Searching for, and landing your next dream job is an extremely exciting prospect. In the beginning, scouring job boards, lingering on LinkedIn, and reformatting your resume are all pleasurable things.
But slowly, as the leads dwindle and your late nights increase, the excitement and romance of looking for a new job fades.
What is going on? Why doesn’t your hard work translate?
The problem is you might be treating your job search, well, like a job.
Falling into the trap of treating your search for a new job like full-time employment is common. The wage-labor economy has us trained to believe that more hours means more reward. Which works when waiting tables, but not when finding your next big break.
Here are four reasons why you shouldn’t treat your job search like a job – and what to do instead.
4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Treat Job Search Like a Job
Your Job Search Shouldn’t Be a Grind
There are lots of administrative tasks related to hunting for a job, often these are the same types of tasks that make people feel ground down in their regular jobs. Don’t let your job search become the job that you already hate.
Job Hunting is Emotionally Taxing
Hunting for a job requires a huge amount of emotional energy. Again and again, you are making yourself vulnerable to complete strangers. Don’t underestimate the toll that this effort can take on you.
Frustrating job search progress may lead to anxiety or depression coming from having self-defeating thoughts of hopelessness and negative expectations (Wanberg, Zhu, Kanfer, & Zhang, 2012). These feelings and mental health state may reduce a person’s chances of finding work by causing low motivation towards their job search or training tasks.
Bulk Effort Doesn’t Equate to a Bulk Return
Sending out 25 resumes a day might trick your mind into thinking you are putting in a lot of effort into your job search, but experts tell us that pumping out generic resumes and cover letters is absolutely ineffective.
For better or worse, many firms are turning to recruitment software that scans resumes and cover letters for keywords to make the first cull of applicants. Don’t get ditched because you couldn’t be bothered to tweak your profile.
Jobs Pay. Job Search Doesn’t
At the bottom line, this isn’t your job and you aren’t getting paid for it. Ask yourself what is being sacrificed at the cost of being able to say you spend 8 hours today looking for a job. Often the answer will be personal relationships, your health and maybe even your sanity. There needs to be a work-life balance in your job search too.
What to Do Instead
Okay, so you’ve identified what mistakes you might be making – but what should you be doing instead?
Be Tactical and Organized
Be tactical about your job hunt and reap the rewards. Set yourself daily time limits for job search-related tasks. This will not only stop you from falling into the ‘job searching like a job’ trap, but it will also make you much more efficient.
Plan your day so that you are at your peak concentration and emotional well being for tackling the hard stuff. Set aside 3-4 hours per day of uninterrupted time for looking for a new job and stick to it. Don’t check job boards on your phone on the bus, or refresh your email at the dinner table. Before you begin each day set some specific tasks and goals.
A list of daily tasks might include:
- Research three exciting companies in my field in your area
- Check two good job boards for new positions.
- Find two positions to apply for
- Read one inspiring LinkedIn article
Keep track of your tasks and be sure to reward yourself for your discipline. A coffee with friends or a session at the gym is going to feel far better after ticking off a checklist than after 8 hours of unfocused administrative panic.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
Recent research suggests that a growth mindset may assist in self-regulation during difficult and frustrating job search tasks (Heslin & Keating, 2016). The construct of fixed and growth mindset is that humans have implicit beliefs about intelligence (Dweck, 1999). Either entity beliefs – that is that intelligence is fixed and cannot be increased, or incremental beliefs, the belief that intelligence is pliable and can be increased through effort. This latter belief is known as the growth mindset. Working on adopting a growth mindset will not only help you deal more resiliently with the grind of job search, but it will also make you a better employee by being more trusting, innovative and entrepreneurial. An analysis of Dweck’s research by Michele Quaid determines that employees in a growth mindset workplace are 47% more likely to say their colleagues are trustworthy than those with a fixed mindset. These same employees are 65% more likely to say that their company takes risks and 49% more likely to say that their organization promotes innovation.
Check out this fantastic blog post or get stuck into the book by the psychologist who started it all.
Lean Into Your Support Networks
Even with the strongest mindset, there is no avoiding that job hunting can be really frustrating and difficult. If possible, find a person in your life that you can turn to for moral and emotional support. Ideally, someone that understands the job-hunting challenges, even better if they know them for your specific industry. Take care of your mental health by prioritizing sleep and making space to share your experiences.
Personalize. Your. Resume. Every. Time.
Yes, it’s rule 101, but it’s still worth mentioning. Ensure you have the best chance of getting through thisfirst selection round by taking the time to personalize your resume and cover letter for every single position.
While this might sound basic, really taking the time to read through every part of the job description is critical. In doing so you might also realize that this job isn’t for you – despite its catchy title. The risk of sending bulk resumes is that you are also watering down your top picks. Applying for 25 jobs that are vaguely in your area of interest may mean you end up with a job more quickly, but is it the job you want?
Instead, be focused on your job search. Applying for two positions you really desire is going to be much more effective, not to mention much more satisfying.
Build Genuine NetworksLook around for the companies you want to work for and get familiar with their HR teams and recruitment strategies. Are they posting open positions, do they want resumes or intro videos? Even if there isn’t a position open there yet, knowing how they advertise will give you an advantage when they do. Set up alerts in your favorite job board to ensure you know exactly when a position is advertised. Bite the bullet and put yourself out there. Diligently making useful, meaningful connections on LinkedIn or other work-related social sites is a better way to spend your time than cold emailing faceless HR teams. While this might not be applicable to every industry having a contact on the inside from whom you can get advice from, or a hot tip, is worth much more than hours and hours of job board scrolling. Best practice for growing your LinkedIn network includes
- Personalizing your connection request
- Follow up
- Set goals. Ie. 15 new genuine and helpful connections a week
- Post content
- Interact with your existing network
- Promote your LinkedIn bio on other platforms.
- Publish original content
Search for Your Job in The Right Place
So should you treat your job search like a job? Definitely not, in our opinion. Taking your job search seriously is critical, but turning your search into a 9–5 routine is not the most effective way to get hired. For a better path to landing your next opportunity, strike a balance between discipline and enjoyment.
Career coaching specialist Paige Webster suggests that thinking big is a good place to reignite your job search passion. Rather than just look for jobs similar to your last position, or one that you are obviously qualified for, research existing positions in your field you may not have considered before or ones that might seem out of reach. Allowing yourself to imagine other possibilities is a great way to remember why you do what you do in the first place.
Finally, give yourself the best chance of securing your dream job by looking in the right place. Choose a job board that offers you more than just a list of jobs. At Lensa.com you can create alerts, search by area, and stay informed about the latest hiring trends. And if the job search process is getting you down, or you feel like you need additional guidance on how to avoid job searching like a job, reach out to us.