I’ve received some great advice about looking for jobs and being unemployed. I’ve also received some ridiculous and misguided advice, but mostly it has been very helpful. I’ve compiled some of the best advice people have given me, either through personal conversations or things I’ve read on the Internet. The single most important thing I’ve learned from looking for a job is to be open to what other people have to say. Not necessarily if they are telling me to do something I know I will never like or blaming me for being unemployed, but most people have something to teach you if you’re willing to listen.
Smart motivated people will find jobs
Someone I was networking with told me this and even though I think it should be amended (smart, motivated, educated, privileged people socialized to be assertive, outgoing, and confidant will find jobs) it has been a good mantra.
Only work 3 hours a day on job searching
I probably don’t follow this advice most days, but I definitely should. If you work on finding a job every second of the day, it is likely that you will be miserable and frustrated. Working intensively for 3 hours on networking or applications is much better than 6 hours spend searching for job openings that you may not even apply for and have little chance of getting.
Talk to EVERYONE
I’m a serious introvert, so pushing myself to talk to strangers, acquaintances or intimidating people is hard for me, but I’ve been told multiple times to talk to anyone and everyone who could be helpful in finding a job. I’ve talked with family members, family friends, my friend’s parents or relatives, alumni from my college, people from former internships, and literally everyone else that I can possibly think of. Not everyone has hooked me up with a job opportunity (but many have referred me to something), but it’s just helpful to meet people in my field so I can get a better idea of exactly what I want to do. Also, people are usually very open to talking about their jobs and how they got there so networking is not actually as scary and I made it out to be.
Get out of the house
Any excuse to leave the house is a good one. It can get super boring and kind of depressing sitting around at home all day.
Get a monthly pass for the subway
This vastly improves the changes that you will leave the house, but it really only applies if you depend on public transit. Getting a monthly pass has been great for me. It means that I don’t stress about spending $4 round trip any time I want to go somewhere.
Prepare for Plan B
My college’s career center was mostly useless, as it is primarily aimed at people pursuing corporate jobs, but it did provide one piece of wisdom. The website has a guide for preparing a plan B, or “What do I do if I’m not hired right out of college?” I’ve been more of less following the 6-month get a job plan, broken up into 2 month increments that include getting ready (working on resume, starting to network), remote job searching (looking for opportunities, applying), and on the ground searching (actually meeting with people, networking like crazy, interviewing).
Don’t blame yourself
It’s really easy for me to start wondering what I did wrong and why I don’t have a job, which just isn’t constructive for me. This article, Open Letter from a Millennial: Quit Telling Us We’re Not Special, completely breaks apart the idea that our generation is lazy and entitled and traces our economic hardships back to the expectations and mistakes of our parents’ generation.
We are not the generation that finds itself in creative abandon. We are not the generation that goes off in search of personal fulfillment and the satisfaction of a job well done, only to come back millionaires. We are the generation that takes whatever work we can get, that knows no matter how hard we try we might not succeed. We know our lot, and it’s not nearly as bright as yours.
Being broke is not the same as being being poor
Many young people like myself with little or no money complain about how poor they are in their period/state of unemployment. I totally get this; not having money is awful and frustrating and scary. But there is a big difference between being a privileged person who currently has no money but will eventually live a financially stable life and being a person who has been systematically without money their entire lives and has little hope of getting out of poverty. This test from Jezebel is a good way to tell whether you are poor or broke.
If you got arrested, do you have someone that could bail you out of jail? If the answer is yes, then you are broke and not poor. “Poor” is not a game. You are “broke.”
Live the broke as f*ck lifestyle
But since I actually am broke, Autostraddle’s Broke as F*ck: The Lifestyle Guide has provided lots of important advice. She suggests cutting back on everything, being on top of your shit, and finding a way to be happy and take care of yourself despite the lack of funds. There’s no need to glorify or glamorize being young and broke, but there is always something to be learned from a tough situation:
Do what you can, and live like you must, and give up what you should – but keep what you love. Being broke is something you will hopefully grow out of, so get something out of it while you can. Learn something about yourself and the little fire inside that never goes out.