There’s really no way around it: The job search is an emotional roller coaster. You can go from feeling confident to overwhelmed to completely down in the space of a single day, which makes the whole process extremely draining. But does it have to be?
According to Dev Aujla, author of 50 Ways To Get A Job, there actually is a way to take some of the stress out of the hunt. Rather than blindly chasing LinkedIn listings, it’s more effective to tap your existing network for leads—and to do it on the reg.
Reaching out to friends on a weekly basis is a great way to begin the process, Aujla explains. “Start small. Send out a casual email to five close friends just telling them you’re in the market for a job,” he says. While emailing certain people in your circle may sound pointless—like, how could your artist pal hook you up with a marketing job?—Aujla says the idea is to get connected to your friends’ friends. You never know who you’ll be linked up to in the process.
The trick is, you don’t actually ask for a job in your emails, which is great news if the forthright approach gives you anxiety. “The idea isn’t to say, ‘Hey, we’re friends so give me a job.’ It’s to help spread the word [that you’re looking to make a career change] and gain information and advice,” Aujla says. Try to set up as many phone or in-person conversations with your contacts as you can—Aujla’s book includes lots of brilliant conversation starters, like asking someone with a seemingly linear career trajectory to share where things got tricky for them. “You’ll be surprised at how much more comfortable you’ll feel about your own career path after,” he says.
That said, even among friends and close acquaintances, networking can take a lot out of you—particularly if you start getting a lot of conflicting advice. If this happens, says Aujla, try not to get overwhelmed. “Remember, you’re allowed to listen to someone, hear them, be friends with them, and not do what they say. Make connections, but ultimately do what is best for you.”
And if you’re not feeling good about reaching out one week, focus on another aspect of your search. “There is actually a lot of other work involved that doesn’t require you to put yourself out there, like researching companies or figuring out more about yourself and your needs,” Aujla says.
The most important thing to keep in mind is is that searching for a job is a process. Aujla doesn’t recommend putting a timeframe on your search, because according to him, it really never ends. “We should always be trying to learn more about ourselves to further our careers,” he says. Plus, if you keep up with this ritual, just think about how many new friends you’ll have by the end of the year—making it worth sticking to even after you score your dream gig.
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