Job Search Tips

Take the Dread out of Finding a Job

Written by Miranda Pennington

Over at Careerealism, Ilona Vanderwoude has advice for those of you who hate job searching so much you wind up self-sabotaging with procrastination or moping from one networking activity to the next. She compares her job search with exercising–it’s a productive pastime, it’s essential to her well being, but when she forces herself to work out by going to the gym, she hates it! Very relatable–particularly for those of us who hate making cold calls, talking to strangers, talking about ourselves, or undertaking any of the thousand and one small and large tasks that make up a modern job seeker’s day.

Vanderwoude’s solution to her workout problem was taking Zumba classes–something she likes, dancing, mixed with something she wants, a boost of cardio! She has some suggestions to help you convert what drags you down into what builds you up, and hopes it helps you find your dream job along the way.

1. Find Something You Like About Your Job Search

Whether you like research, proofreading, imagining yourself in a totally new field, or schmoozing at happy hour, find ways to incorporate the fun stuff into the job hunting process.

2. Start Your Job Transition With This Activity You Enjoy

In Vanderwoude’s words, “Forget saving the best for last”! Figure out what the “dessert” part of your job search is and do that first, every day you spend looking. Treat yourself to an editing session on your resume and cover letters before making those excruciating phone calls. Schedule an informational interview over lunch so you have fresh intel at your fingertips before you start making those networking calls.

3. Cherry Pick What Works For You

Don’t feel like there’s only one way to search for your next job. Online networking is great, but if you’re not up for LinkedIn, visit, or your alma mater’s career resource center. Spread the message that you’re looking among friends and family and let word of mouth do some of the work.

4. Lighten Up! Network With The People You Like

In a tough job climate it’s easy to believe beggars can’t be choosers, but that doesn’t mean you have to subject yourself to unpleasant or uncomfortable contacts just to land a job, any job. If you let yourself gravitate to the people you like personally, you’ll put your best foot forward and make a dynamite first impression (instead of one that says an “I’m just here for the free cheese please don’t talk to me”).

5. Outsource Or Get Help With The Stuff You Hate

We talk a lot about running buddies at Real Match, but this is where they are crucial. If you hate proofreading but your best friend hates researching open positions on job sites, trade roles! Give her your resume to look through, and in exchange type in her keywords for her! Consider also looking into professional job coaches or head hunters.

Remember to break insurmountable tasks into smaller, more doable versions. Each baby step gets you closer to the job you want–and without making you dread every moment.

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.