If there are two unquestionable truths about me it’s 1) I have so much hair now because my body is overcompensating for being so bald as a baby that my mom had to glue my hair bows to my head and 2) I am a beast when it comes to finding and securing a job.
I’ve held 13 jobs since I was 16 years old (not including very short term internships), so I’ve experienced a fair share of the job hunt process. It can eat you alive until you are a little ball of doubt bundled into a two day old, unwashed sweater with Dorito stains, sequestered on the couch hoping your Netflix binge will inspire the job market to see your worth and act right.
Whether you’re in between jobs or hunting for the next thing while working full time, typical job hunting advice can be effective, but also boring. There is a better way to approach this get-me-a-job-now-or-I-will-lose-my-mind situation besides panic and stale cover letters.
Step 1: Treat Yoself
Celebration seems like the last thing you would want to do when tasked with finding a new job, but the discomfort from seeking new work can actually be a good thing in the long run. Studies show we reach maximum performance with small doses of manageable anxiety. A little personal party is a nod to bringing on that optimal anxiety that can trigger good changes in your life.
I was let go from a telemarketing job during my senior year of high school. Although my long-term career aspirations didn’t include hustling Proactiv products to acne prone folks, I was disappointed with leaving the job on those terms. My manager gave me the bad news in the morning, so I decided to treat myself to a midday movie, which helped ease the upset and marked the change better than going home and creating a rant rap about the injustice I had just endured (although that would have been fun too).
I’m not advocating blowing your savings on a week long cruise, but celebrating this change will center the process and reveal the positive sides that come from being pushed outside of your comfort zone.
Step 2: Do origami (or something else new)
If you have been fired, you are going to have a lot free time on your hands. You could watch as much Real Housewives of Atlanta as you please, but you can only get so far before your screen starts feeling like one of those Dementors from Harry Potter, slowly sucking your soul from your body.
Seize this opportunity to pursue things you are curious about, but have not had the time to try. Brush up on your writing. Watch YouTube videos on design. Read up on the Ashanti people. Learn origami and fold a pretty swan. You will tap into overlooked passions that could give clarity on the types of jobs you should be pursuing while sharpening your skills. It could even be, dare I say it, fun!
Step 3: Ask off the cuff questions
The iconic scene of Castaway, where Tom Hanks loses his one and only friend (a volleyball) to an aggressive ocean wave, symbolizes how it feels to be on the job hunt. The volleyball is the job you just lost, so near and dear to you that your eyes well up with tears as it floats away, even though it can’t even hug you back.
Connecting with other people while you scour the job market keeps you from going insane while gaining insight into new jobs and industries. The most effective route to a new job is through the people you know, as they may have information on positions that may not even be listed out on the market yet.
Find five people in your “secondary network” (typically friends of friends) in jobs and industries you are interested in. Invite each of them to a short tea/coffee/lunch to learn more about what they do. Ask them the following questions:
What do you find most exciting about Mondays?
If you could have a superpower to use on the job, what would it be and why?
What was one of the biggest hurdles you have had to overcome in your career journey?
These questions will make your conversation memorable, while giving you clarity on whether the field they are in is a fit for what you are looking for in your next job move.
Step 4: Wear a Wig While You Role Play
Once you have gained information on the market and start applying to jobs, the next crucial step is preparing for interviews that may come in. Practicing your interview skills with friends can be really awkward, but why not crank the awkwardness up a notch by going all out and dressing up as interviewer and interviewee?
Find a list of the most common interview questions online. Ask a close friend who is open to being silly with you to cop a cheap $5 wig and suit tie while they ask you, “What are your biggest weaknesses?” and other routine interview questions. This hilarity will help you become more natural in your answers, which will ultimately benefit you during the real interview. This also guarantees at least two good selfies you can look back on and chuckle at.
Finding a new job is a job within itself, but if you’re going on the journey, make it as fun as possible. You don’t have anything to lose.