This blog post is a companion piece to our podcast, Figuring Things Out, found on Spotify and Castbox!
At the start of September of last year, I was employed full-time, making more money than I ever have, supporting my husband and my daughter, and working at a company doing work I didn’t mind doing. By the middle of the month, everything came crashing down when the company I was working for underwent an entire restructuring and got rid of my entire team.
Even though they were gracious enough to provide a decent severance package and we had a good-sized emergency fund to support us, I was terrified of suddenly being jobless at a time when job searching was starting to get really, really bad.
I was laid off on Friday morning around 9 AM. By 9:30 I was logged into LinkedIn, editing my resume, and letting my network know that I was open to work. That weekend alone I must have sent over 200 applications. Since that time last year, the job search has gotten even worse. At a time when so many major companies are undergoing mass layoffs, more employers are pushing for a return to office, and job seekers are being run through the wringer of job interviews, low salary expectations, and crazy work hours, the job search has quickly become a time of overwhelm and emotional exhaustion for many.
I sat down with recruiter, Melissa Green, to learn why the job search seems harder than ever and also to discuss some of the ways to mitigate the stress. Here were the 3 takeaways that Melissa left me with.
Takeaway #1: Understand that number of applications DOES NOT equal the number of people competing for the job
One of the biggest causes of stress, when I was sending out applications, was LinkedIn telling me how many other people were applying for the same job.
I was looking at job postings with over 800 applicants. For many (myself included), the first thought that comes through is “There is no way I can compete with that many applicants,” and so they don’t apply.
Melissa tells us that even though that number seems REALLY intimidating, apply anyway if you have the qualifications. The algorithms and screening processes that most recruiters and hiring managers use, disqualify the majority of those applicants long before their resume gets viewed by a real person.
Of those 800, Melissa says only the top 20% are going to get a phone call for an initial screening. If you meet the qualifications for a job, you’re application is going to pass those initial screening tools and push you onto the next step in the process.
A bonus tip from Melissa: If there are screening questions on the site you are applying for, make sure you answer them! Not answering them will most likely result in an automatic disqualification.
Takeaway #2: Tailor your resume/ send out less applications
Remember when I mentioned earlier that on the first weekend of being laid off, I sent out hundreds of applications? Well, that wasn’t just a one-time thing. Every week I was sending out hundreds upon hundreds of applications to anything that sounded remotely close to what I was looking for (and even some very random things). I wasn’t prioritizing specific titles, salaries, locations, benefits, etc. I was just applying in hopes of anything landing me an interview.
Any guesses on what that did to my mental health? If you guessed that it lead down a one-way path to burnout city, you guessed correctly. By the end of one full week of searching, I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed beyond belief.
Melissa’s advice? Send fewer resumes. This might sound like a scary suggestion but hear her out. “Tailor your resume…send out 5 applications a week”, says Melissa, who was also struggling with the job searching process late last year. Instead of creating a generic resume for various titles and industries, tailor your resume to 5 different job postings a week. Not only is this much more manageable but it prevents job searching from becoming your full-time job and allows you to take a (much-needed) break!
This leads us to the next takeaway.
Takeaway #3: Prioritize Self Care
Whether you are job searching because you got laid off, reentering the workforce, or just looking to grow your career, the act of job searching can be draining. Having to constantly be networking, getting rejection emails, sharing for the fifth time that month what your strengths and weaknesses are, etc. can take a toll on your mental health.
Melissa recommends spending time doing what you love! Take a yoga class, walk your dog, or binge-watch your favorite Netflix drama. Be gentle with yourself during this time.
“Things do get better,” Melissa says as we round out our conversation. Times are incredibly challenging right now for a number of reasons but eventually, you will land that job!
For all of those in the midst of the job search, I wish you nothing but prosperity and success (and a very quick interview process).
To learn more about how to navigate the job search, please check out our podcast episode with Melissa! The episode can be found on Spotify and Castbox! To learn more about Melissa, feel free to follow her on LinkedIn!