How to Stay Balanced During a Long Job Search

It’s easy to let the job search consume you- especially if you’ve been out of school for several months and looking for a job has become your full-time job. Parental, societal, and self-inflicted pressures can mount, making you feel overwhelmed and inadequate. You’re worried about not having health insurance; you’re getting in fights with your parents; you’re sick of hearing about your friends who are getting jobs. You start to devote all of your waking hours to the job search, and all your normal thinking and good habits fall by the wayside.

My advice to you is to make sure that you’re not letting your life get out of balance. Paying attention to exercise, healthy eating, and sleeping patterns is incredibly important during this time. We have to be honest — appearances matter in the job search (and, more broadly, in life). You don’t want to walk into an interview as a slovenly, sleep-deprived zombie. 

Running at the fitness clubHere are some tips for getting through a prolonged job search in a healthy, balanced way:

Designate time to work on your job search – and time to have fun.

As much as you may love sending out networking e-mails and applying to jobs online, try to confine these activities to certain hours — for instance, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. When that time period is over, shut off your laptop, go outside and do something fun. Go talk to friends about something you love, and do not use the time to discuss your unemployment. If you don’t set limits, all of a sudden your job search will become a 24/7 plague over your life. Employers want to hear from energized, happy candidates; don’t let the job search drain you of your ability to be fun and personable.

Hit the gym every day.

Build time for workouts into your schedule every day – even if it’s just a 30-minute jog around your neighborhood. You’d be amazed by how much a short walk or run can elevate your mood and get your mind into a more productive place. Furthermore, a regular exercise routine will keep you looking your best as you get ready to go on interviews and enter the professional workplace.


Sleep 8-10 hours per night.

Instead of staying up until 3 a.m. to re-watch the entire season of Entourage on HBO Demand, try creating a sleep schedule similar to the one you will need to adopt when you become employed. Get to sleep by 11 p.m. and wake up before 8 a.m. This way, you are preparing your body in advance so that it adjusts well as soon as you start working. If you have difficulty getting to sleep due to stress, try making a to-do list before bedtime, just to get the thoughts out of your mind and onto a piece of paper to review in the morning. If you find yourself sleeping in until noon everyday, perhaps set an alarm to ensure that you get out of bed early and attack the day’s important tasks.


Eat right!

sb290If you’re still living at home with parents who are willing to cook you well-balanced meals, consider yourself lucky. A forward-thinking approach might be to ask your parents if they’ll teach you how to cook healthy meals for yourself. This way, you’re exerting your independence, learning an important life skill, and keeping well-fed as you go through the very energy-intensive process of looking for a job. Don’t discount the importance of nutrition on your energy levels and appearance.

Many outstanding, qualified college graduates still find themselves unemployed or under-employed this season. This is not a reflection on you, but rather on the particularly harsh economic climate. By keeping this in perspective and not allowing your job search to overwhelm your life, you wind up feeling better- and potential employers may be more inclined to offer you a position when they sense your more balanced, happy self.


Dan Klamm is the Outreach & Marketing Coordinator for Syracuse University Career Services. Connect with him on Twitter @DanKlamm and read his Career Blog for College Students.

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