By Jack Kelly
The unrelenting, brutal Covid-19 job market has pushed millions of people out of work—many of whom have been unemployed for months. Some found themselves in between jobs for over six months. There are lots of long-term unemployed people who’ve been searching for over a year.
They lost their job over the holidays in 2019, expecting the usual cycle of hiring would take place in mid-January and everything would be fine. Lo and behold, it wasn’t. We ran smack into the pandemic and everything went on hold. Before you realized it, three to six months had passed. There was always some reason why companies were pushing off hiring.
For the unemployed, it’s been rough. That’s probably the understatement of 2021. It’s been miserable. When you’re constantly looking for a new job to no avail, it’s natural that your self-esteem and confidence get crushed. You doubt your decisions. When you get the rare chance to interview, you inadvertently come across a little bitter, surly and frustrated at the situation that you’ve been thrusted into. You say something slightly negative about your last boss and some colleagues and immediately regret it, knowing that you just ruined the interview.
There were emails from human resources inviting you for an interview—a glimmer of hope and promise. At the last minute, an hour before the call was scheduled and confirmed, the Zoom-based meeting was canceled. This pattern was repeated a few more times. After four months of patiently interviewing for a job that’s beneath what you previously held—but desperately need something, anything—you got ghosted. It doesn’t matter to the company that you’ve met with seven people and jumped through all the hoops on command, like a trained dog. Dutifully, you made sure to send “thank you” emails and connected with them on LinkedIn. It didn’t matter, as they blew you off without any regard for your feelings or mental health.
It’s not surprising that after months of banging your head against the wall, hitting into dead ends, leaping over every hurdle put in front of you, nothing has changed. You’re feeling like a hamster on the wheel, going round and round in circles. For what it’s worth, you’re not alone. This is happening to millions of people all over the world. You are going through job search fatigue—yes, it’s a thing. It’s that depressing, futile feeling that nothing you do matters. You tell some friends, “Why bother anymore? No matter what I do, nothing works out.”
It’s not just you. This is happening to people of all walks of life. I’m not going to pretend that there is an easy answer. However, here are some things to do to get your head together and gather the mental strength to forge forward.
Block out the past. Don’t dwell on what has already happened. Slam the door shut on all of the indignities, rudeness and inconsideration you have faced. Forget that it happened or at least compartmentalize it. Wipe the slate clean and tell yourself, “Today is the start of my job search.” View everything as a reboot.
Although you’re feeling defeated, you must come across as a winner. It’s not easy to do, but you have to do it. When a company is hiring, they want someone who can get the job done and has a “go-getter” attitude. If you come across as tired, beaten down or sad, they’ll quickly pass on your candidacy. There’s little or no sympathy or empathy. Don’t bother trying to make them feel bad for you, thinking that will get you the job. It doesn’t work that way. The boss wants someone who is going to do whatever it takes to succeed, run through brick walls and make them look good to their bosses. In a difficult economy and job market, no smart hiring manager would take the risk of offering a job to someone who is a sad sack and performs at a subpar level. They know they’ll get the blame if their hire turns out to be a dud, so it’s not worth the career risk for the manager.
The key is to come across as a winner. Everything you do should showcase yourself in a bright light. You want to emanate positivity, assertiveness, intelligence, motivation and enthusiasm. This means the lighting, camera angle, internet connection and settings for your video interviews need to be top-of-the-line. Look into the eyes of the interviewer through the camera lens. Speak in a strong, clear, concise and confident tone. Your voice is a musical instrument. Use it to your advantage. Remember to smile, pull your shoulders back, keep your head held high and avoid fidgeting and squirming in your seat or allowing your eyes to nervously dart around.
Offer yourself some grace. You can’t keep beating yourself up. Stop the self-criticism over perceived mistakes, such as “I should’ve taken that offer even though the title was less than I wanted. What’s wrong with me?” Whatever happened, happened and you can’t change it. Dredging up the past will only make you feel more miserable. Focus on the present and what’s within your power to succeed.
Carve out some time every once in a while. Go for a walk outside to clear your head. Drive or bike ride to a beach or park and enjoy the scenery. I know you’ve been reluctant to call family and old friends because they’d ask about your employment situation and you don’t want to get into it. Pick up the phone and call them. You need people on your side to either help with the search, offer some compassion or just a friendly ear to vent to.
Originally posted on Forbes