OK, I know what you’re thinking—it’s impossible to make the job search process suck less. After all, job searching is not a traditionally “fun” process. In fact, words that more likely come to mind are stressful, tedious, and hard-to-predict.
And I’ll admit that some parts of the job search process are pure torture ( cough , waiting to hear back, cough ). But, there are many ways to balance it out with memorable experiences. In the same way you have learned to make other “unenjoyable” activities like, say, exercise or networking less-dreaded; applying for a new position can also be energizing and impactful.
Here are four ways to make looking for a new job more fun—or, at the very least, less awful.
1. Be Open to Anything
Whether your search is focused on a single dream job or a specific industry, giving yourself space to look around may uncover interesting positions you had never considered. So, instead of brushing that intriguing listing off, take the time to consider it.
Imagine that you were initially focused on jobs at larger corporations because you love benefits and paid holidays, but then you stumbled upon a couple of exciting startups that could support your goals and fit with your qualifications. So, you take the time to explore this route by simply reaching out to someone at the company and learning more about the position.
Worst case scenario: It’s a networking disaster and you don’t even finish your coffee. More likely scenario: You’ve made a new connection, gotten away from your computer screen, learned about a new opportunity, and hopefully made your search less stressful by realizing that there isn’t just one job out there for you.
2. Use Tools You Enjoy
Every person brings unique skills to his or her job search. Maybe you have incredible people skills, or maybe you’re an amazing writer. These talents can help you, but too often people think applying to a job has to be a mind-numbing process.
Think about it this way: When a people person is stuck behind a computer screen punching out resumes and sending emails, she can easily resent the experience. However, if the same person were to get her name out there by attending networking events and local workshops, her interest level would immediately increase. The same goes for the talented designer who loathes mingling but could create a truly unique application .
So, use the tools for job searching that match your strengths and interests. If you enjoy one-on-one conversations, set up informational interviews . If you love tech and innovation, build a personal website that shows off your background. Utilizing skills you enjoy will make the process more fun—and help you make the most of your time.
3. Re-Invent Yourself
Maybe you’ve been taking the approach of doing what you know best, and you haven’t tracked down any new leads. Well, now is the time to shake things up. Re-invention is one of the more exciting parts of any change—career or otherwise.
Just as exercise can transform you physically and mentally, the job search can similarly challenge people to become the best version of themselves. Speaking to strangers, marketing yourself, and writing persuasive emails are all chances to embody a more confident demeanor and communicate at a higher level.
If the job search is starting to discourage you, mix things up by re-inventing yourself. For example, you could change your LinkedIn profile or resume to present your story in a different way. Or, you could watch top speakers and emulate their tone and delivery to become more comfortable at networking events.
When you challenge yourself to master new techniques and capture the boldest and most charismatic parts of your personality, the job search becomes much more than looking for a job. It becomes about personal and professional growth.
4. Treat Yourself
Ultimately, searching for a new position can open the door to new opportunities, friends, and choices. So, accept the highs and lows of the process and focus on progress at each stage, including vulnerabilities you’ve challenged and uncomfortable situations you’ve survived.
Make it more rewarding by treating yourself in small ways for staying on track. For example, take a break after an intensive round of interviews, make time for a hobby after a full day of applying, or see your favorite band at the end of the month. These mini-celebrations will pace the journey and provide things to look forward to when things aren’t going your way.
The ultimate reward, of course, is landing a thrilling job at a company that is equally as excited to have you. When you do, the new opportunity will be well worth the grueling process.
Finding a new job is usually a challenging process, but it can also present opportunities for memorable stories, discovery, and personal and professional growth. And the fun is there, too—if you dig a little deeper.
Photo of woman at cafe courtesy of Shutterstock .
Joy is a music industry professional and career coach. She earned her BA in Economics from UC Berkeley and made a commitment to build a purposeful personal and professional path. She founded Quarterlifejoy Inc. to help millennials architect a career and life that serves their unique goals and strengths. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @quarterlifejoy and book one-on-one coaching sessions with Joy on The Muse's Coach Connect .More from this Author