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Tips for Surviving the Job Hunt


So, you’ve either transitioned into civilian life, or maybe you’re under-employed and seeking to improve your career prospects. Either way, you’re faced with the daunting and seemingly no-hope-in-sight job hunt.

There are a couple key tips for keeping your sanity during this period. As an interviewer, I’ve had countless applicants, particularly Veterans, that are so discouraged from the job hunt experience that they sink themselves even before the interview. No matter how polished your interview answers are, an expression of lost hope does not elevate you to the top of my list of candidates.

First, treat the job hunt like it’s your 9 to 5 job. Literally, 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. That’s it. There’s nothing that can’t be adequately covered in those hours and more likely, less time. Put very defined limits to the hours you work on your job hunt or you will burn out quickly, struggle in the relationship with your family and your mental health will suffer. Designate a location to be at every day and keep your job hunt limited to that spot and within the hours you set for yourself. You may feel like you owe it to keep working into the late hours of the night, but your own mental exhaustion will limit your success. That spot may be at your home office, but never your couch. Don’t use your dining room table as your office, then you won’t be able to disconnect yourself from the job search while you’re eating. Libraries are a wonderful thing. It’s quiet, but with enough people to not feel isolated and lonely. Your mind will change “on your way to work” and you will be mentally prepared and sharp for your job search.

Second, hit the gym. You’ve done PT every day of your military career, why stop now? It helps with your routine, and physical exertion is good for your mind and body. Every single day you will have accomplished something, and your mental health will thank you for it and lift your morale. Exhaust your body and you will lose your restlessness while sitting at the computer. You’ll be able to focus more. While everything else in your life is changing, keeping pieces of your routine, like daily PT, will keep you grounded.

Next, keep your extracurricular activities and friend groups active. Any regular group activity keeps you energized, and your mind challenged. If you’ve moved, join a group or club, or anything. You are not committing to anything for the rest of your life, but having avenues to leave the house and interact with others keeps you from feeling isolated. That sense of lost and alone will go away and drastically improve your interview with current things to talk about. Go out on date night, invest in family time, invest in yourself. Make sure all those relationships continue to feel just as important as your job search and they will reciprocate to your own self esteem and worth and it will show during that interview.

Last tip, seek out self-improvement and professional groups to join. This goes hand in hand with tip 2 and 3, but you need to exercise your mind in a professional capacity. Watching game shows does not count. Continue to practice your professional skills so that in interviews you’re sharp and always on a path to growth and learning. Volunteer! Churches, non-profits, and other orgs may be in desperate need of your talents. Make it clear what your long-term goals are, but you may be able to practice your skillset in a meaningful way or develop new ones. Note, these are great ways to build your network, but do not focus solely on finding a job. Your network understands your situation but will feel like they are being used if that’s the only thing you talk about. This is about your own worth and self-improvement.

Keep these simple but meaningful tactics in mind while you are job hunting to keep yourself fully invested in the job search, but more importantly that when you’re across from me at that interview table, I know that you’re the right candidate for the role. I won’t take someone that has given up on themselves, but confidence and self-worth will always stand out.

Good luck!

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