How Many Jobs Should You Apply To Per Day?


The short answer is a nice big fuzzy, “it depends.”

Now of course the logical question you’re framing in your mind is what does it depend on? Am I correct? While setting goals for yourself is commendable and strongly encouraged, it’s not always the best strategy to set a number of jobs to apply to each day when you’re out of work. That may come as a surprise to some of my readers given that I’m an Employment Counsellor.

An effective job search is about more than just filling out applications and firing off resumes to organizations online or via email. In fact, a healthy job search allocates time to a number of activities which will keep you busy and productive.

Now while you may be driven to actually apply for employment, it’s not always the case that the person who applies for the most number of jobs is ultimately the first one hired. Nor is it the case that the one who applies for the most number of jobs is the one who lands in the right job; and that can lead to many job changes when the positions don’t last long.

Sure you should look for jobs daily. By all means set aside some time in the morning to see what new postings may have come out in the last 24 hours. You don’t want to miss an opportunity that you’ve otherwise kept your eye on and find it has some extremely short deadline to apply and then miss it. How unfortunate that would be! If you also look into postings once during the afternoon, you’re already doing a good job of staying on top of what’s available.

There are other things you should be paying attention to however; and it’s these other things that will keep you productively engaged in your job search and give you enough variety so you avoid discouragement. Here’s a list:

  1. References. Now is the best time to put together a list of the people you know who will vouch for your work performance. Current or former employers, supervisors and/or co-workers are excellent choices. You’ll need a minimum of 3 of these, including the correct spelling of their names, titles, company names, phone numbers and emails. By the way, send them a current resume to have on hand as well as a note of appreciation for their ongoing support.
  2. Social Media Profile. When applying for a position, many employers will turn to the internet and dig around to find what they can about you. If you started a LinkedIn profile but never really developed it much, now is a great time to devote some attention to developing and fleshing out your profile. Put in a little effort now and you won’t feel embarrassed about your profile later.
  3. Exercise. Job searching is stressful for almost everybody and it manifests itself in physical ways. Getting out for a walk, bicycle ride, the elliptical gathering cobwebs in the basement or a trip to the gym will not only improve your physical fitness but ward off aches and pains.
  4. Enjoy A Pastime. If you need permission to spend some time doing things you enjoy, here it is. Get out in the garden, work those knitting needles, pound those keyboards, pick up that paintbrush. Setting aside some time to do things which bring you happiness and keep up your sense of normal day-to-day living is strongly encouraged. Job searching need not be all-consuming.
  5. Practice Interviewing. I know, I know, I know. This is likely something you don’t enjoy and only want to do when absolutely necessary. Still, without practice and more practice, you’re not going to be at your best just winging it on the day of the big interview. You’ll feel mounting anxiety if you put off practicing and end up sitting in some Reception area wishing you had dusted off your interview skills earlier.
  6. Work Your Network. Networking is essential; engaging with other people, taping into their resources, gaining support and advice, drawing on their expertise and experience. Be it phone calls, face-to-face, over the net, etc., devote some time to reaching out. All those friends on FB and connections on LI you’ve been building are a good place to start.
  7. Diet. By diet I do not mean lose weight. What I do mean is pay attention to both the quantity of food you consume and the quality. When you’re off work, the proximity to your pantry and fridge is considerably reduced, and your trips to both may be much more frequent. If you don’t bring junk into the house in the first place it won’t be there for you to over-indulge in during those weak moments when you crave comfort food.

There’s more you could be doing for sure, but these 7 are a good start. Setting yourself an arbitrary goal of say, 8 job applications a day will either set you up to fail or have you applying at jobs you don’t really want at all just to meet this quota.

If you’re only applying to a single job every week or less you’ve got to step things up my friend. What I’m saying is balance is the key; apply for jobs that you’re truly qualified to do and motivated to do – absolutely. It’s equally important however to get out from in front of a monitor and keep living.

 

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Get Out Of The House


If you are out of work, you might be one of those folks who by nature retreats to where you live as your sanctuary; the place you feel safe and secure in. Be wary my friend, your decision could come to backfire on you and one day you wake up to realize you’ve imprisoned yourself through voluntary exile.

That sanctuary of yours; the one place you could relax in and just be comfortable with yourself after a lacklustre day at work has changed. Now that you spend all your day inside, your relaxation there is replaced with too much time to think, the chairs that once brought you peace now seem unusually uncomfortable. Pacing the floorboards is little better for you move around the house yet feel nonetheless like you’re stuck.

My advice to you? Get out of the house; you’re in serious danger! Sounds dramatic I understand but it’s true and for a few reasons. First and foremost you want the one place you live and return to each day to be a place where you can unwind, feel comfortable and at rest. If you seldom leave your residence, you can hardly return to it and feel that aura of safety and familiarity surround you.

While it’s understandable you might wish to limit your exposure to friends where you’ll have to address the issue of your unemployment and provide job search updates, shutting out these people can have unintended consequences. When you fail to communicate with others, you’re going to start imagining what these conversations and interactions are going to go down like. How you picture them is going to be affected by the mood you are in; and the mood you are in is…well…not so great. So how you think things will go is often worse than the reality.

Now when we are stressed – and unemployment ranks right up there as a big stressor – our minds don’t often shut down or move from one topic to another unless you’re suffering from multiple worries. Then it’s great at shifting from one bad thing to another! But alone in our house without the distractions that come from what we see, smell, hear, touch and feel, we can become consumed with those thoughts. Then what follows is often prolonged sadness, low self-esteem, self-criticism and questioning followed by anxiety and full-blown depression.

When you walk out the door and interact with your world, you take in fresh air for a start and just by moving, you get some much-needed exercise. Your brain will start receiving new information; everything from the colour of the sky and the sound of moving traffic to that small rabbit that just darted across the path ahead you’re walking on.

As you move around and your brain starts receiving all this sensory data around you, you may find that it is these little things that for a moment here and there replace your constant thoughts regarding your job loss. Building on one or two of these, you may find your attitude improves slightly; your perspective improves as well. When your thoughts return to your present situation it may occur to you that just for a few minutes you had other thoughts and how nice that was.

Getting out to see a movie for example often has the same impact. You escape for an hour or two into another world, forget your problems and find you are enjoying doing something akin to your normal routine. And from those around you, you realize you are doing something normal that others are doing too. In short, you are fitting in; and fitting in is what you haven’t been feeling with the lack of employment.

Here’s another benefit of leaving your house: you may find that when you again turn your thoughts to looking for work, you might actually have some possible solution to a problem seemingly pop up out of nowhere. Either this or the problem has actually diminished in size (perspective). “Why didn’t I think of that before?” you might ask yourself. “Of course! I could try this or that.” Try as you might you’ll never be able to figure out what it was that prompted that solution to come to you, but had you remained inside brooding about things, it wouldn’t have come.

When you get out of the house you might also notice a rise in your energy level and a lighter mood to go with it. This is not a panacea for all your troubles make no mistake, but getting out is healthy both for body and for mind. If all a person’s problems in life were solved by getting out the door and going for a walk the world would be filled with people who walked and some would never stop. It’s not a cure-all and not meant to be an over-simplification of the real issues you’re dealing with or attempting to resolve.

By the way if you do get out, here’s an interesting thing to check on. Are you walking with your head up or not? Seriously. When you are walking in what you believe to be an upright position, lean your head back slightly, and spread your shoulders. If I’m correct, you may have changed what you perceive as your normal stance to a slightly hunched forward and downward gazing one. Stand up straighter, look ahead and breathe deeply filling your entire chest cavity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When It Ends How Long Do You Wait?


The job is over and apparently it didn’t end well. How long you wait before launching a new job search largely depends on two key factors: what else is going on in your life and what state of mind are you in at the moment.

Simply put, you can be self-motivated to find a new job but find that the distractions going on around you in your life make giving the job search the focus it requires an impossibility. You could also be conflicted in wanting to work; needing to work, but so mentally fragile due to how a job ended that you’d be better off taking some time to process and resolve things first.

For many people, losing their job has a similar impact as losing a loved one. You could be in shock when it happens, angry, might even go so far as to try to plead your case to have the termination undone or pray to God to have it back. Then eventually you come to terms with things and move on. Just as different people grieve the loss of people in varying amounts of time, the same is true of mourning the loss of employment.

Now of course it doesn’t always end with a termination for a job to end badly. No, you could quit a job due to harassment or where the working conditions were so toxic and your physical and/or mental health were being so negatively impacted that you quit to preserve your safety and sanity. In such a case you made the decision yourself to leave and that decision put the control in your hands, but the fact you are unemployed and the stress that brings are still taxing.

Remember though some people have to have some things end before they can turn their attention to new and better things. So while yes many people would look for another job while employed and make a seamless transition between the two, for others the one must end before they can invest energy in finding a new one. There are after all just so many hours in a day and your hours of work may preclude a real job search if you’re sleeping when the Hiring Managers of the world are working.

We are all different though aren’t we? In so many glorious ways we differ from those around us. Were we to sit down in a room of people in the same relative situation we found ourselves in, we’d find varying opinions on how long is right to wait between ending one job and starting another.

Some people would like a week or two; seeing the time as a holiday of sorts. Sufficient time to relax a little, decompress and even spend a little money on fun things or extravagances knowing that secure income is guaranteed in the near future. These folks find the 2 weeks healthy and see it as a transition period, washing away the anguish of a bad experience and living in anticipation of a better one.

Ah but then there are others for whom the trauma is so intense it is as if they are paralyzed. These people are fragile, unstable, finding it difficult to cope with the simplest of daily tasks. Their self-esteem is leveled, their confidence shattered and they question their decisions on everything from what to eat to what to wear. For these folks, the pressure of launching a full-time job search is unthinkable. The problem is that to look at them from the outside, they may be doing an adequate job of masking all this; they look, “normal”.

Creditors, landlords, banks and other people to whom they have obligations don’t generally sympathize to the point where they are willing to forgo payments however so the pressure is on to get a job and do it quick. The outcome then is people looking for work who are not marketing themselves as they would otherwise; they are damaged, broken, wounded and reeling – but all of this internally.

Of course there are those who even when a job ends terribly have the self-confidence intact and the fortitude to pick themselves up and get out there immediately. These are the realists I suppose; life sent them a lemon but rather than making lemonade, they opt for something entirely new altogether and no job is going to land at their doorstep unless they get out there, so out they go!

On the other end of the scale however are those for whom the trauma is extreme. They may go not just weeks or months without really even looking for work but perhaps a year or more. They wouldn’t wish it so, but they are entirely incapable of moving forward in this one area of their life. The danger of course is that this one area impacts all the others; income, housing, finance, debts and assets, social integration, recreation and discretionary activities, family and friends dynamics etc.

“Just deal with it and move on” is often what people hear when a job ends badly. In a way that flippant (and often annoying) advice is the best advice in the broadest sense. “Dealing with it” however, well that’s where those who give the advice are often the ones who can accelerate the transitional grieving period faster themselves.

Got someone going through this you know? Be patient and supportive, help as you’re able and wait.

Grieving At Christmas


Are you grieving at this time of year more than usual and feeling out of sorts as a result? You know, there’s merriment joy all around you whether it’s songs on the radio, Christmas cards that arrive in the post, the humourous social media posts that land on your homepage; and somehow you just don’t feel in sync with all that carefree joy all about you.

You find yourself on this pendulum swinging between moments when you get caught up in those happy moments yourself and then feel pangs of guilt as you recall the loss of someone special in your own life. Your laughter and broad smile disappear from your face replaced with stress lines on your forehead and a sombre look of remembrance. One moment you feel happy, then you’re sad, and then you’re guilty again about bringing everyone around you down in spirit. Oh if you could just get back to feeling, ‘normal’; the normal you used to feel in years past!

Welcome to your new normal. The emotions and feelings you’re experiencing are valid, very real and yours to deal with and process to the extent you are able. While normally in control in most areas of your life, it seems like you haven’t yet mastered this specific one; dealing with the loss of someone significant in your life. Try as you might, you haven’t found a way to – as they say – get over it; deal with it; move on.

The fact that Christmas brings along with it words of good cheer from everyone from family and best friends to work colleagues and strangers is well-meaning but only seems to punctuate the feeling that things aren’t usual. “Usual” means that for the other 11 months of the year people aren’t wishing you happy holidays or merry anything.

Think of that pendulum metaphor again. Your balance point looking back seemed to be when the one you’re grieving now was still around. When they departed, you experienced a shift where sorrow, longing and heartache have moved the pendulum. Then at Christmas we see, hear, smell, taste and feel the good; it’s families gathering around singing carols, over indulging in rich foods, their gifts, bright lights in the night, decorations and traditions deeply steeped in family history brought out and on exhibit 24/7 until Christmas is over. All of this swings the pendulum in the other extreme; where you’d normally be happy to go and make merry of your own accord.

But whatever side that pendulum is on at a given moment, you’re private thoughts can’t seem to be a peace with. You’re feeling guilty when privately grieving and feeling remorseful when you catch yourself humming a Christmas song in your head let alone out loud. So yes, you’re feeling out of sorts all the time. Why can’t everyone around you understand this and give you your own space so you can get the pendulum back to the center?

Of course to others, they see mood swings and may feel they are walking around on eggshells trying not to set you off. They want desperately to be of help and support; they worry don’t they? And you of course are wondering why they themselves are seemingly handling things much better than you are. Don’t they miss the departed? Don’t they care as much as you do?

Everybody experiences loss and everyone processes the feelings that go with loss in a very personal way. The thing is there is no set timeline for doing so. People who experience long grieving periods might worry those who don’t, and those that don’t worry those who do because they may come across as unfeeling, callous, cold and detached.

It’s healthy to accept that we all process loss and figure out how to move ahead on our own at our own pace. We know intellectually that death is inevitable where there is life; the day we get a puppy we know a day at some point will come when the pet will pass away. Does this make it easier? Maybe for some but not for all. And things get magnified for many when the loss isn’t a family pet but a family member such as a mother or father; daughter or son.

So here it comes…Time is the answer. How much time? Who is to say? You can no better predict how long you’ll take to deal with your personal loss than you could predict how long you’ll live yourself.

Now this grieving process of dealing with the loss of someone special is identical to the process of grieving over a family pet for some and yes grieving over the loss of employment. That may seem trivializing your loss of a family member but to some people, the shock, anger, denial, bargaining and eventual acceptance which makes up the grieving process is just as real when losing a job and shouldn’t be dismissed as not just as real.

Give yourself permission to have your moments of pain and don’t apologize for your tears of remembrance. These are your own very personal moments and your thoughts are not to be taken as a weakness of character. You should never expect nor hope I imagine to entirely forget the person gone, the pet gone or the job lost.

You will eventually get to where you will give yourself permission to be happy without feeling conflicted or guilty. Your good mental health will return. Do accept wishes for a merry Christmas as they are intended; with only the best of intentions.

Your Damaged Psyche And Mental Fitness


That prolonged job search you are in right now might be doing serious damage to your psychological process; how you view the world, your self-ego and overall mental fitness. Of this you may already be aware, but I suspect no matter how much you think you have the whole picture, there is much more going on you are unaware of.

Just as a wonderful end result often has many small steps and one thing builds on another until you ultimately reach the prize at the end, so too is the slide that can result in full-blown depression, serious mental illness and social anxiety. My hope is that you recognize enough in yourself where things aren’t healthy and you will seek out professional help.

Everyone generally concedes that looking for work can be stressful. If you have a job, there is security in knowing you have a source of income while you look for another position, but you have the internal conflict of continuing to physically work with a company that you’ve mentally already left. When you make the decision to look for a job somewhere else or sometimes even another position with the same employer, you can’t help but contract some of your full-blown enthusiasm for the job you have at the moment. You’re just not 100% invested in any long-term objectives the way you would if you were in for the long haul.

So it’s no wonder that your energy is divided now between your current job responsibilities and all the things associated with finding new employment. Scouring websites, writing cover letters, modifying resumes, sending emails, making phone calls, setting up meetings: are you doing these on company time with your employers permission, on company time without their knowledge or consent, or maybe trying to do all of this outside of work on your lunch and after hours? Energy divided when you only have the same amount of energy to begin with means your work is not at its high level of excellence.

Of course, if you are entirely unemployed you don’t have the problem of dividing your energy between a job you have and looking for a new one. However, without discipline you have the stress of being easily distracted from the ‘work’ of looking for a job and the relative pleasure of reading a book, lazing on a beach or lounging around the house. Your available energy is also finite and if you allow your focus to drift in other areas, your psyche can be damaged through guilt because you aren’t looking intently on top of your unemployment.

Even the best of us who should know better can find ourselves side-tracked into doing other activities when we know we should be job searching; we justify it at the time using some perverted logic and then later feel the guilt of knowingly having put off what we needed to be doing if our situation is going to change.

One feeling you might be having is that the world is continuing to turn, the clock still ticks with every single second, the world in fact seems to be functioning very nicely whether you are part of it or not (with respect to having work and contributing). All of a sudden, you might feel displaced, invisible, not needed or even missed.

If you are lucky, you’ll realize that only you are 100% invested in your eventual future employment, and only you can really do all the things you need to change your unemployed status and so you shake things off and find both the motivation and energy to get down to work. If you are less fortunate, this isolation and lack of seemingly even being missed can trick you into possible self-pity, hopelessness, isolating yourself and justifying it saying things like, “Nobody misses me anyhow.”

This latter response is dangerous to your psyche; how you see the world can become so distorted you might rationalize in an unbalanced state that the world wouldn’t miss you if you physically checked out in addition to having socially checked out – and thoughts of ending it all start becoming more common.

Unfortunately mental fitness isn’t as easily detected as physical fitness. We can look and see someone who is obese, sneezing, sluggish, frequently missing time due to physical illness etc. Less obvious are the signs of mental illness, especially in the early stages where someone might be going out of their way to appear upbeat, ‘normal’ etc. So where someone might downplay a cold or a headache, someone else might smile more to compensate for mild anxiety or stress.

Getting help from a Mental Health professional (and I’m not one of them so no self-promoting here) is not only a good idea, it’s downright critical. You might as I said earlier not even be entirely aware yourself that you aren’t your normal self. The extent to which your normal balance is off due to your stressors, might have you thinking that your 10 degree shift on the old balance meter is actually your ‘normal’ setting – but it isn’t.

Getting in touch with a Mental Health agency can be a boost to your self-image and self-esteem. You’re taking a step to get a mental health check-up if nothing else. If there is a problem, you’re on the way to addressing it before it gains momentum and becomes a bigger problem. That’s not a weakness my friend, that’s wisdom.

 

 

Anticipating Letdowns


On Friday of last week, I concluded an intense two-week job finding workshop with a group of job seekers. My goodness these people were so open to new ideas and more than willing to apply the concepts I shared! And by the final day, they were extremely pleased with themselves and how much they had learned. So why then did I, in the midst of their happiness and positive energy, get serious for a moment and give them a warning about this week?

The warning you see was about this morning; the Monday following the workshop where they’d wake up and have nowhere to go. There would be no get together with the others with whom they bonded so tightly after the two weeks. No one to commiserate with, share the good fortune of getting an interview, having had a great interview, or even getting a job offer. Well kind of; they did exchange contact numbers and emails on their own, so I hope it continues.

You see what I was doing last Friday was giving the group one last gift during our time together and that was foresight based on past experience. So imagine you’re unemployed and frustrated. Now multiply your anxiety of being out of work times the number of weeks, months and years in some cases. Now to combat that frustration you get some hope in the form of a workshop to re-energize your job search in a small group. One of the unexpected bonuses you experience is the support you get from fellow participants

And then, on the Monday morning following the two weeks, you wake up full of optimism, only to realize that this morning, you have nowhere to go, nothing to be taught, no inspiration to derive from learning something new, and no smiles to greet you. The thoughts may start to creep back in that mutter, “We told you so didn’t we? Yes, still unemployed and right back where you were. We warned you didn’t we? Let’s go back to bed and just feel sorry for ourselves”.

And hence the warning. You see with some tip-off of what may come this morning, it is hoped that should those thoughts creep in, a participant can say, “Aha! I was warned about thinking this way! Well, I HAVE more job searching skills than a few weeks ago, and I AM making progress, and I DO have to CONTINUE to use these new-found skills and the results WILL be different!”

The mind is such a powerful entity. When focused, engaged and determined, it can be a force that allows one to combat and overcome odds. It can also sustain a person through rough times. On the other hand, I’ve seen the sad state of too many whom the mind has hindered and it’s tragic.

So how then to combat the negative and continue to be optimistic? The secret really is to keep momentum going. In the case of the folks I’ve been working with the last couple of weeks, I’m meeting with each one of them this week for an hour. During that time, I’ll not only give them personal feedback, but I’ll check and see that they continue the momentum we established by continuing to use the tools provided while together. And then in two weeks time, those that wish will reassemble for an hour and a half to sit together and catch up. There will be no facilitation, but rather a meeting of equals just to sit around and talk about how things are progressing, share our news etc.

If you are a participant yourself in a workshop, it’s good advice to look just beyond the workshop and ask yourself how you will sustain the momentum and use the skills learned on your own. Sometimes it’s good to get the name and contact information of someone you meet in the group, who would be willing to meet at a café, or just accept a phone call from you from time to time. No doubt that like you, there will be others who crave inclusion rather than isolation and would benefit from contact post group work.

If you facilitate workshops, you might want to do as I have done and alert your participants to the danger of complacency following the time together and the probability of negative thoughts that can kill momentum. For momentum is really what workshops provide. The technical knowledge changes from workshop to workshop, but every workshop in my opinion that brings people together seems to really be about imparting ideas and building momentum.

It was gratifying on the last day of the workshop to have one fellow announce he’d been offered and accepted a job. Several others by the last day also had been to interviews, or have interviews yet to come. The positive energy in the group was very real, and a few cried and shook hands or hugged on the last day overcome and surprised at their own emotional outpouring. Why? Emotional engagement and sincere appreciation for what they learned and how much they had invested themselves in the anticipation of ultimately gaining work and financial independence.

When you anticipate a letdown, it can help steel yourself against falling back into past habits brought on by reverting to a crippling mindset. Be positive, remind yourself of what you’ve learned, and continue to do on your own what you began in groups you attended – this is vital.