The 4 Most Painful Parts of the Job Search (That You Always Forget About Until You Do it Again)
You didn’t get the raise you deserved this year. Your boss emailed you at 11 PM for no discernable reason. You woke up yesterday and realized that you’re destined for greatness, and you’ll never get there if you keep filling in spreadsheets all day.
Whatever the case, you decided you’re ready for a new job. After months of going back-and-forth on whether it really makes sense to leave, you’re now 100% committed to finding a position you love. In fact, you’re so committed that you plan on spending this weekend kicking the process off right. You’re going to revise your resume, email your former colleagues, update your LinkedIn profile—you’re on such a high that the mere thought of quantifying your bullet points makes you smile.
But then Saturday rolls around, it’s beautiful outside, and your Instagram reveals that your friends are all hanging out together nearby. You’re struggling to make your cover letter opening interesting, you’re yelling at Microsoft Word because the text won’t align the way you need it to, and you’re missing a key skill that’s required for every listing you see.
And that’s when you remember how much you hate job searching.
Look, I get it, we’ve all been there. If this process was fun, your friends wouldn’t be outside on a beautiful day—they’d be sitting next to you, giddily brainstorming their own transferable skills and begging you to let them proofread your resume.
But, before you give up completely and resign yourself to your current positon, let’s talk about all the horrible parts of the hunt you probably forgot about and how to make each one suck a little bit less. Because, trust me, once you do find that dream job, this whole thing will have been worth it.
1. It’s Work
Looking for your next big opportunity’s exciting. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it takes work—likely on top of your other work. Assuming you’re still putting your all into your full-time position, you’re likely exhausted when you arrive home; also likely nowhere near being in the mood to send out cheery networking emails to your former colleagues.
Make it Suck Less
Take Muse Editor-in-Chief Adrian Granzella Larssen’s advice and stop giving 110% at your current gig: “Maybe instead of giving an A+ effort all the time, give a B+. Leave at 5:30. Take a couple of those personal days that have been sitting in your account to focus on your search. Don’t automatically say yes to that new project or committee. Let those non-urgent emails sit until tomorrow. Get out of the present and spend some time focusing on your future self.” No, you don’t want to take it too far, but one tiny step back from your day job can be the big step you need to back away from burnout in your search.
2. It Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Even if you’d like to leave your company yesterday, the right opportunity for you probably isn’t going to be the first one you come across. (But if so, buy all the lottery tickets.) And that’s frustrating because you’re dedicating your valuable time to this process and seeing very few results in return. Would it kill a hiring manager to at least confirm that he received your materials?
Make it Suck Less
No, your dream job’s not going to be knocking on your door tomorrow morning just because you updated your resume, but rather than despair over that fact, keep it in mind as you plot out your search. Because it’s not going to move at lightening speed, that means you don’t need to get everything done right now. So, give yourself a break and don’t stress about doing all the things this very moment.
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3. It’s Full of Disappointment
Even though you checked off every single item listed in the job description, you never even get called for a phone screen. Or, if you do, you never hear from the hiring manager again. Or, possibly even worse, you get through five rounds of interview, complete a project, meet with the CEO—and then get a generic email telling you that you’re out of the running.
Make it Suck Less
There aren’t enough inspirational quotes in the world to make you feel at peace with constant rejection. (Nor are there enough “Everything happens for a reason” texts from your mom.) However, what’ll reduce seeing those generic emails flooding your inbox is to spend just as much time networking as you do applying. The more connections you make, the higher the chances that you’ll get to bypass the robot-stage of the process and get your resume in the right hands. Not to mention, the more human connections you have, the higher the odds you’ll get real, valuable feedback.
And, if you are finding that you typically get through multiple interviews and don’t seal the deal, then it might be time to consider the possibility that you’re making a few mistakes and might benefit from speaking with an expert career coach.
4. It’s Hard to Lie to Your Boss’ Face
You get to the point in any job search when you struggle to look your boss in the eye, tell her you have yet another emergency dental appointment in the morning, and that your dentist, oddly enough, requires patients to arrive in business casual attire.
Make it Suck Less
There’s no awesome solution to this problem. Even though you won’t be able to avoid last-minute 2 PM interviews, you should do your best to schedule them at the beginning of the day or toward the end. That small change alone will minimize the times you’re forced to Google obscure-but-not-too-gross medical issues that need immediate attention. Oh, and when it comes to lies, avoid telling any that you can’t take back, such as you or your family members being terminally ill.
Finding a new job’s hard. Finding one you’re truly excited about is even harder. But, that doesn’t mean you should give up, or accept the first offer you get, or write passive-aggressive comments on your friend’s Instagram photos when you’re stuck inside. The right position’s out there for you—and once you land it, you’re going to forget this process all over again.
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Jenni Maier is the Managing Editor of The Daily Muse. She wrote her first book at the age of five. While it didn't quite take off, she's continued to write and edit whenever possible. She feels very lucky to have a career that allows her to do just that. Her work's been quoted in several publications, including The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Jezebel, Us Weekly, Slate, Mediaite, People, and more. When she's not Musing and daydreaming about being a dog owner, she's either working through her Netflix queue or baking. Or, ideally, a combination of both. Say hi on Twitter.More from this Author