What I Learned from a Year-Long Job Hunt

It’s rough out there, but you’re not the only one going through it.

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Photo by Dillon Shook on Unsplash

When I started out on the job hunt I told myself I’d write a blog about this, but, I didn’t want to write about finding a job until I had actually succeeded.

Right out of the gate I want to make something clear, this blog is directed at people in their 20’s looking for work out of university or even high school. The reason for this disclaimer is I want to recognize this article is written from my perspective, packing a ton of privilege along with it. No matter what happened in my job hunt, I was never fighting to stay off the streets because of my family’s support. Some of the following points reflect this privilege, so I wanted that to be clear.

Be Conscious of Your Mental Health

A little bit about me, I run on the opinion I have relatively healthy mental health and self-awareness about my whole shebang. Saying that, wow, did the job hunt ever do a number on me. Much like struggling with being single, it’s effortless to talk yourself down.

You’re not special; you’ll never get your dream job, look at all your happily employed friends doing employed things like Friday lunch and not paying for the dentist.

This fact, plus the fact you probably don’t have money equals one tough time. There is no getting around this affecting your mental health, but if you’re conscious of it, you’ll be more active in dealing. Quick tips I found super helpful when going through some of the tougher times.

  1. Get a side gig, work at a coffee shop or restaurant. You’ll be able to work full-time hours which will make you employable in those industries so you should be able to find something. Even if it doesn’t pay well, it gives you a reason to get up in the morning, and it is some form of income.
  2. Go to the gym, like a lot. You will have more time on your hands and working out is easily the best thing you can do for your mental health (my experience). I know it sucks paying money for a gym in this “crunch time” of your life, but a lot of gyms offer very cheap memberships, just upgrade later.
  3. Don’t let your sleep schedule get away from you. It’s so easy to sleep for 11 hours when you’re unemployed and have erratic, unhealthy sleep schedules like going to bed at 3:00 am and waking up at 1:00 pm. Cut-that-shit-out. Discipline yourself to get out of bed before 10:00 am every day and turn off all electronics by midnight. It’s one of those, do this now, feel better later habits, but it is a big negative on mental health.

Be Wary of Organizations Lacking in HR.

This second point is a big one regarding finding an actual sustainable career. It is so vital your employer has a dedicated HR department. A big way to measure this is how the hiring process goes. My current job called me week one, interviewed me week two and then hired me that same week.

Boom pow, done. I had a job to survive the relatives for Christmas.

I shit you not, one job I applied for we went through nearly a three-month delayed hiring process. This process is nobody’s direct fault, and I want to emphasize I am not blaming the people who hired me — I was also gung-ho the entire time. I am however blaming the fact the organization had basically one person working overtime running their whole human resources department. I ran into some other rough HR situations with a couple of other hiring experiences as well, and I have never been more dumbfounded at how such asinine decisions were approved on what would feel like a weekly basis. Organizations with this gap will also likely see a considerable amount of turnover because frankly, they aren’t investing in their people. If you join an organization like this, I guarantee you’ll have multiple moments where you sit there shocked that they somehow manage to keep the lights on. I know you don’t want to be picky, and I get that, but for real, if you have any options, go with the organization that appears to have their ducks in a row, because odds are the other place is a potential nightmare.

Avoid Being a Yes-Person.

Another job I had briefly in 2018 was great. Fantastic support, great staff with organized goals and targets. The job, however, involved me making cold-calls at least one to two hours a day.

Holy. Fuck.

Do I ever hate cold-calling

I felt so bad leaving that place, they gave me such an opportunity investing a lot in me, but as soon as I finished my first week of angry old men telling me to get a real job, I noped right out of there. The problem with this was entirely on me. The job description had cold-calling in it, my manager before hiring me LITERALLY warned me this job involved cold-calling, and the training had a section called cold-calling. Through the whole process, I sat there thinking, if there is money involved I’ll cold call my grandmother. This decision was insanely short-sighted of me. Seriously, think about what you are signing up for because it is going be your 9–5. Don’t say yes if something doesn’t fit, you’ll waste everyone’s time.

Don’t Go ALL IN on a Risky Play.

This one is more my experience and relative fuck up, but I wanted to include it regardless. When I graduated, I wanted to move to a big city more than anything. Finding a job in big cities is hard enough, let alone when you have to pitch skype interviews because you’re 2,697 kilometers away. Once I eventually got something though, I did it, I made a move, left everything, accepted minimum wage and moved to the big city. I put my whole life on the line hoping things would work out. Guess what, they didn’t. Picture the polar opposite of things working out, because that is what happened. Now in a normal scenario, this wouldn’t have been so bad. Yes, I lost out on the job experience, but that stuff happens, people lose out on jobs, and they move on. The difference with my situation, I had zero fallbacks, literally zero. Nothing panned out in the short month of reapplying, and I ended up paying $540 for a plane ticket to go home, mission failed. This failure hit me SO HARD because I put everything out there.

Big shocker but I have no one to blame except me for putting myself in that scenario, and it took a shitty experience for me to realize this. You’re new to the job world; you’re vulnerable as fuck, you don’t need to risk it all in your first year, you just don’t.

Don’t Let Yourself Believe You’re Alone in this Experience.

With social media today it is SO EASY to think you are the only unsuccessful person in the world. You’re not. People just aren’t posting instas with the caption being,

“No direction in life help lol”

You are frankly in the majority of university graduates, and that is okay. I was looking for a stable career for literally the entirety of 2018, and average unemployment lasts six months. You’re fine, take a breath, and understand that. If you have, your life figured out by 25 you are going to have a boring ass life.

Writing optimistic unsolicited advice. Sign up for my monthly, unhinged, ramblings → optimisticthom.com/subscribe

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