How to Stop Worrying: Jobseeker Edition

If you are out of work, or underemployed, then it feels like there is a lot to worry about. Looking for work is hard. Growing your network is hard. Supporting a family is hard. It is easy to let worry take over. But if you let it, worry can also defeat you.

I can’t take all the stress away from the process of job searching, but I can tell you that these are 3 common worries that you can let go of.

Worry one: How will I find a recruiter?
This is an easy one, you won’t. Not really. It is a common job searcher myth that if you can find a recruiter then they will find you a job and all your problems are over. However, this isn’t how it works today. Recruiters do not work for job seekers. They work for companies that hire them to fill specific positions, and they only get paid if the position is filled. So all of their time is spent searching for a very specific kind of candidate. If that’s you, great, but more often than not the recruiter will simply take your info and disappear. So stop worrying about finding the perfect recruiter; he doesn’t exist.

Do this instead: Spend the time you wanted to devote to finding a recruiter to instead research 3-4 target companies you want to work for. Try to connect via social media with someone with hiring power. Interact. Make a positive impression. Then when you apply for something in one of those companies you are not a completely unknown entity.

Worry two: Why isn’t anyone responding to my job board applications? What am I doing wrong?
You are not doing anything wrong. This is simply the way the game is played now. For a variety of reasons- too many for the scope of this article- HR departments are flooded with applications nowadays, more than they can realistically handle in many cases. With hundreds upon hundreds of resumes sent in for every opening many HR departments have turned to ATS programs to scan the resumes first looking for preprogrammed keywords. If a resume has these keywords then the system triggers it for review. This way probably better than 70% of resumes are weeded out never having been seen by a human being.

This is why job seekers rarely hear back. But don’t waste time worrying about it. No one is being rude or ignoring you. They are either so swamped with applications that they can not realistically respond to every one, or a machine has read your resume.

Do this instead: Network you way into the company and get your resume in front of someone with the power to move it up the chain. Circumvent the ATS by not relying on the job boards which can often be a black hole.

Worry three: It has been a month now. How long will I be out of work?
This worry is harder to dismiss, because of course everyone’s situation is different. Someone who planned well and has six months of reserve funds set aside can weather this storm much better than someone who was living pretty much paycheck to paycheck before losing their job. The time it takes to land a new job also varies by job type, with some taking weeks and others months. However, worrying about this one does not get you hired any faster.

Do this instead: Put your head down and do the work, that is the only way to make this worry go away. Know that the job search is going to take as long as it takes. If you are growing your network, tailoring your resume to each application and moving forward every day then know you are doing all you can. Don’t be afraid to make a lateral move or even a step down to get a regular paycheck coming in. There is nothing that says you can’t continue your search, and this way you’ll be searching from a position of strength. Another benefit of searching while employed, even if it is a step down, is that you can now take the time to build your network to get even better opportunities.

I’ve been reading up a lot on Stoic philosophy lately so I’ll leave you with two quote if taken together can do a lot towards putting worry in the right perspective.

“He suffers more than necessary, who suffers before it is necessary” – Seneca

“Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens” – Epictetus