Catalina is a media and journalism graduate from the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and an avid write...
Coping with the pitfalls of a lengthy job search27 November 2012, by Catalina Barzescu
Every time I attend a job fair for internationals, I am stunned by the large numbers of visitors these events attract. As unemployment continues to rise, it appears there are also many internationals searching for work right now, among them recent graduates, or newly relocated spouses, or those simply looking for new opportunities.
My job, for a while now, has basically been looking for a job. And it’s not a smooth search. As a matter of fact, it can be quite tough, and it does at times wear me out, because finding a job in the Netherlands is taking longer than I had hoped.
Receiving rejections is discouraging, of course, but receiving no response at all to an application is even worse, not uncommon when some recruitment agencies or companies, who at times receive hundreds of applications for a position, only reply to shortlisted candidates.
Meanwhile, I have been trying to put together ways to cope with the downfalls of looking for a job. If you find yourself in a similar situation, they might prove helpful.
› Don’t take it personally
I actually hear this from my loved ones when my self confidence is at a low point after a failed application. The times are not the best right now, economically speaking, and the competition is high on the labour market.
Not getting the job you wanted and applied for is often a result of your profile not matching the job profile completely or in its most important points, and not an outcome of your lacking personal qualities or motivation.
Not to make excuses, though. It’s important to realistically understand what happened, learn from it, and maintain optimism.
› Take a break and think it through
Constantly looking for openings and chances to network can be exhausting, just like any overly intense work can. At times you just need to step out of the search and take some time to think about the bigger picture.
Maybe it would be of use to acquire some new skills, or look a bit outside your qualifications zone or salary expectations. Maybe you can get some more ideas from other expats who are going or have been through something similar. Basically relax and refresh from time to time, instead of allowing the stress to build up.
› Maintain a routine
I personally dislike the word, but yes, make a routine, a flexible schedule, in order to avoid becoming undisciplined with the time on your hands and wasting it.
I don’t advocate waking up early in the morning if not necessary, but I do see the benefits of organising the hours you spend on the different aspects of your job hunt.
Plan some phone calls in the morning, check out the new openings in the afternoon, and take a coffee break in between. Whatever best suits your personal rhythm.
› Enjoy your hobbies
Not having a full-time job leaves you with some time you can spend doing things you like, or discovering what those things are. Hobbies are a good way to relax and feel good about yourself.
For example, noticing all the exotic spices and other ingredients that can be found in multicultural Rotterdam, I began to experiment with various recipes. There’s some stress relief to be had while marinating a chicken.
Volunteering is also worthwhile, can help you gain some more experience or insight in a certain field, or at least make you feel good about how you spend your time. I wrote an article about this previously, have a look.
› Let people in and emotions out
Retreating into your own world is not a good idea. Trust me, I’ve been there. Keep your loved ones close, talk about what you experience with them, and, if things become too much, ask a coach, or another professional, for some guidance.
Allow yourself to grieve or be angry when that needs to come out, because those are natural feelings when your job search hits a dead end.
› Keep healthy
Do not underestimate the importance of a healthy body and clear mind. Get enough sleep, eat well, meet friends, go out for a walk...
Simply avoid dwelling into negative, unhealthy states, which I believe to be the biggest threat when dealing with downfalls during job hunting.