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Quora Column

How to stay sane while hunting for work

Meditation can help fend off the job-hunting blues (Thinkstock)

Meditation can help fend off the job-hunting blues (Thinkstock)

A prolonged job hunt can prove to be a dispiriting period in anyone’s life. But it can be turned to your advantage.

While the jobs market is bouncing back worldwide, long periods of unemployment have become increasingly common for workers in a number of sectors since the financial crisis.

Whether you’re an over-qualified graduate or an older person job-hunting after redundancy it’s a battle to stay motivated and sell yourself as a great hire.

We went to Quora’s online forum for some advice where users had answered a question many of us have: What can I do to stop myself from going crazy while I look for employment? Here’s what some of them had to say.

Finding a rudder

After relocating to Hong Kong with his wife, Dave Cheng wrote about his experience of daily job-hunting while being a house-husband in a new city. He suggested developing a routine and sticking to it. After a couple of weeks of feeling “rudderless”

Cheng realized he needed to come up with a schedule and a few goals for each day. He wrote: “This helped tremendously. It also helped me land interviews.”

“By allocating specific chunks of time towards LinkedIn searches, emailing acquaintances, networking, spending time on job search sites, and other related activities, I was able to plan and execute better,” he wrote. “Most importantly, I felt like I was accomplishing something each day and not just waiting for headhunters and recruiters to call me back.”

Beware of the screen

Makiko Itoh however, warned it can be easy to become completely overwhelmed by the search. He wrote: “Some of these may sound insulting to even suggest, but I've been unemployed in the past and know how depressing it can be, and how low your spirits can sink sometimes. I've had to make myself do a lot of the things… to keep my sanity.”  

“Try not to mindlessly hang around in front of a screen too much, whether it's a computer screen a TV, or a phone,” Itoh wrote. “Just use your computer as little as you need to do for your job search, or for acquiring skills, etc. Don't sit around surfing, or checking Facebook.”

Get social — and mind your health

Charles Johnson, an aerospace engineer had a practical suggestion many people might not think of straight away.

“If you live in a major metro area… join a few productivity/professional type meetup groups via meetup.com,” he wrote. “In Denver there was actually a meetup group of unemployed people who pooled their resources to help each other find a job.”

Johnson wrote: “You could also join groups where they host seminars or information sessions on particular subjects pertaining to your field.  It is a very good way to network with people who are in the field as well. A vast majority of the time, the events are free to attend.”

Craig Inskip agreed and wrote: “In particular you must keep your mind and body healthy. Meditate and exercise would be an essential for me. Also maintain a healthy diet. With lots of thinking time, the mind can be the devils playground so be sure to keep it in check.”

Barbara Carleton added:Spend some time keeping 'on top of things' in your chosen field.
When you land that dream job you don't want to find that it has left you in the dust. Read, research, network with others in the field, etc.”

Expand your outlook

Ellen Vrana was more upbeat and took a different tack. She suggested job hunters use the opportunity of ‘no-ties’ to really broaden their horizons.

She wrote: Unemployed, eh?  So in other words, you are free! Go do something you would never do, get outside your comfort zone. Do it now.”

Don’t limit yourself. “Think of something crazy, outrageous, that you've always wanted to do in the back of your mind. And then go for it,” Vrana wrote. “Volunteer at a charity in Africa, go on a bus trip around South America — very cheap.”

Give of your time

Several Quora readers suggested using your extra time to get involved in volunteering.

Laura Parker wrote:Volunteer: It made me feel a lot better about my situation to put things into perspective when I was unemployed. I remember crying to my mom about how bad I felt and how awful things were and how I faced rejection multiple times a week, but I went and helped some people with their resumes that were really in dire straits — had lost homes, had families to support, were in homeless shelters, talked about times when they lived out of their cars or ate out of garbage cans.”

While Martijn Sjoorda, a therapist, wrote: “Consider doing volunteer work for one or two days a week. It's fullfilling and keeps you connected to the real world. You never know who you might bump in to [who] can help you on your path.”  

Quora respondents are required to use their true names under the site’s Real Names policy. To help ensure legitimacy and quality, Quora asks some individuals, such as doctors and lawyers, to confirm their expertise.

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