It feels like you’re going through the same loop over and over. You’re mentally exhausted, and it seems like, no matter how many times you tweak your resume or embellish your cover letter, you’re simply invisible to employers. You picture your application drowning in a sea of thousands of other applications. Your friends are telling you to stay positive, but you wonder how much longer you can go on.
Maybe it’s time to change things up a bit.
Make a List of Companies You Like
Instead of looking for certain types of jobs, seek out companies that you like (for either their products, mission statement, work culture, or something else that attracts you) and look for positions within them. Even if you’re doing work that doesn’t immediately pertain to your field of study, you will already be in, and the company may even offer to cover your future education. There are many cases when a new job title was created specifically for an employee that owned their tasks and wanted to progress within the company. This could be you too! Or, who knows, maybe one of those companies you are drawn to has opened up a position that’s perfect for you, but it just hasn’t been listed yet?
Apply to Jobs You’re Underqualified For
Often, we tell ourselves stories about what we’re capable of, what’s in our reach and define the boundaries of our skill set. These stories can be comforting to us at times since they give us a sense of who we are. More often, however, they limit our possibilities because they stop us from applying to jobs that we’d be more than capable of doing had we tried.
Don’t hold back from applying for positions that require more experience, education or skills than you currently possess. It’s always possible that something on your resume catches the employer’s eye, or that they find you suitable for other similar positions within the company.
Apply to Jobs You’re Overqualified For
By doing work, even something that you think is below your skill set, you may acquire a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. You might not find value in the job title, but perhaps there’s satisfaction in the actual work and dealing with people, such as your customers. You never know who you’ll meet and what you’ll learn in a different context.
It might not be a long-term career, or a calling; perhaps it’s a ‘gig’, but there will be opportunities to learn and explore while you’re making money. Even if you already know exactly what you want, continue to search for opportunities while you’re doing something else.
Ask for Informational Interviews
A good way to bag a dream job is to talk to the people who are currently doing them. You might discover that many people you look up to got to where they are today by networking.
Browse for profiles on LinkedIn, use company websites, or attend networking events. Even if you reach out to someone who can’t help, they could forward your request to someone who can.
Find templates for informational meetings, requests for coffee meetings, phone calls, or even just email exchanges. Setting up informational meetings is also a very useful way to figure out what kind of job you want as it might give you insight on the day-to-day life of a person in a particular profession.
Do Volunteer Work
There’s nothing wrong with doing volunteer work or taking up side gigs while you continue to look for full-time opportunities. If anything, it’s highly encouraged! Often the nature of a lot of voluntary work is humanitarian and gives you insight into how other people live. It might give you perspective, it might give you some new ideas, it might even just make you feel good to contribute to a cause that is meaningful to you.
In any case, don’t shy away from volunteer opportunities, as it’s important for employers to know that you did not spend all your unemployed time on Netflix! And just like with any other work, it allows for meeting new people with interesting and varying perspectives on life. Plus, you’ll gain invaluable skills and experience that will further help your job search.
Give Yourself a Break if You Need One
New graduates are rolling out every year by the thousands, and it seems like, unless you’re always running, the frantic job market will trample you. It might feel like you’re becoming less and less employable every day or that employers will immediately toss out your resume if you’ve been out of the workforce for too long.
The gaps in your resume can easily be filled with “family issues”, “family business,” “travel,” and “volunteerism.” A lot of people take time off after completing their degrees to try new things or tend to personal business. What matters to most employers is that you’re willing to learn, be committed and put in the hard work. So try not to dwell on your current situation, and if you really feel like a break will be good for you, then by all means go ahead and take one.
Action Can be the Cause of Motivation
Lastly, if you find yourself struggling to even turn on your computer, remember that sometimes taking action creates motivation, and not always the other way around. Don’t wait for motivation to find you and guide your hands towards the keyboard. Discipline yourself and set yourself small tasks to accomplish every day. For example, before noon today, you will apply to two jobs. Or today you will simply save fifteen job listings that you apply for over the weekend. Breaking down tasks can make them appear less daunting.
Finishing these smaller tasks will provide you a sense of accomplishment, and will spur further action. Tell yourself you will finish the header of a cover letter, or maybe adjust the font. Once you’re satisfied, maybe you’ll think that you might as well re-read the first paragraph to see if it needs any modification. Sometimes you need to push yourself just enough to get the ball rolling, and the rest becomes easier.
Contrary to popular belief, you aren’t supposed to have it all figured out. We simply can’t predict how our lives are going to unfold, no matter how detailed some plans may be. Stay open to all options, and to the fact that there really are limitless opportunities. Remember, you are so much bigger than your job, your employment status, or circumstances. So just hang in there, and enjoy the ride!