Finding the Fun In Your Job Search

June 23, 2010 | Career,career change,job searching,online job search | Written by: admin

Job searching. Not your favorite pastime, I’m sure. For many, it consists of “unfun” and even dreaded action steps such as getting your resume together and networking and doing research and interviewing.

So let’s make it easier on yourself.

I have a – related – personal example for you.

When it comes to exercising, I refuse to go to a gym and work out.

I despise it. Won’t happen.

I want to do something I either enjoy (such as dancing, rollerblading, ice skating, skiing, martial arts) that gives me a good workout in the process. Or I’ll do something that lets me kill two birds with one stone such as biking to and fro and getting my cardio that way.

I repeat: I will not exercise at a gym.

I’ve tried it several times and found that I hate the machines, can’t stand aerobics classes, and I’m bored the second I pick up a dumbbell. (No offense to anyone who loves this. In fact; more power to you if you do – pun intended!)

But now – for the first time – I’ve found a compromise! Last night, I Zumba’d for the very first time and loved it! (It’s a hybrid between aerobics/fitness and Latin American dance such as salsa, samba, meringue, etc. Brilliant.) Whereas dance classes can have you standing around figuring out the new steps or waiting for the rest to catch up, Zumba is one hour of high energy/high sweat/high fun workout.

The moral of this story?

You don’t have to go to the “gym” (insert your biggest job search dislike) and do what most people are doing.

Realize that, yes, certain steps simply have to be taken and some also need to be done in order. (In my example: put on exercise clothes and work up a sweat.) But other than that, you can do it your way!

Maybe you are so afraid of doing something wrong that you’ve latched on to whatever job search advice you have gotten and are following it rigidly and religiously.

This may be great if it happens to be solid advice and you feel comfortable doing it. But if you’re struggling to make your way through the job transition maze, here are some ways to weave in some fun:

–          First of all, find something you do like about your job search. There is bound to be an aspect that gets you going. (If not: call me!)

Maybe doing research is just your thing. Well, great! A fantastic place to start a job or career transition anyway!

Or perhaps you are the consummate “people person.” Guess what – networking is still the most successful way of landing your next job.

–          Whenever possible, start your job transition with this activity you enjoy. Or, if changing jobs is just an exercise in ghastliness to you, find the least excruciating action step.

The idea here is to get moving. Forget “saving the best for last.” If you’re stuck in inertia, you need to know that things will become much more manageable once you get moving and start getting results from your efforts. So start with the “easy” stuff.

For example, if you just lost your job and you feel like commiserating with friends; call them up! And join a job search support group. This could be your first step. Next, you’ll focus on more diverse networking groups and efforts, but a support group could be just the ticket to start making some new connections and get you in the right frame of mind.

–          Cherry pick what works for you.

For example: if you’ve heard that online networking is the hottest thing since sliced bread (which it is) but you only just mastered email…start with in-person networking. The real world is not dead yet! The local chamber of commerce is a great place. may offer get-togethers that are applicable to you, and industry associations are usually a great way to meet people in person. And don’t forget plain old barbeques and family parties. The best connections resulting in leads and job offers often originate there!

And don’t forget reunions and alumni events!

–          Lighten up! Network with the people you like!

Sure, sometimes a really strategic contact is someone you’d never hang out with on a personal level. But here’s the thing about those contacts: if they are uncomfortable to you; chances are they and their company may not be a good match for you anyway. Of course there’s more to an organization than one employee. And, if you end up working there, you might never again have to deal with this person.

However, there’s something else to consider: when you’re talking with someone you like, you’re at your best. You shine and show your true colors. This puts you in the best possible light for referrals and other invites. So if you have the option to network with the hot shots or build a true relationship with a few great people; I’d opt for the latter. In the end; networking is truly about relationships.

–          Outsource or get help with the aspects you like least.

Get a coach or resume writer on board for those steps you just can’t wrap your head around or just can’t motivate yourself to do. You’ll be amazed how much easier things become when you’re guided!

Final words of advice: remember that many small steps make a big effort so identify what makes you feel best and start there. Don’t try to be perfect as this will only lead to inertia and analysis paralysis. Be easy on yourself, look back on everything you’ve already accomplished and know that your next opportunity is around the corner. Even if it takes several months – which is not at all unusual these days. Don’t give up in the eleventh hour!

What other ways have you found that make job searching more fun for you? Or at least more bearable? Share them with the CareerBranches community at large, will you? Your thoughts are appreciated here! Your comments too, for that matter.   :   )


  1. [Maybe doing research is just your thing. Well, great! A fantastic place to start a job or career transition anyway!]

    yep! that’s me! Occasionally, I’ve even been paid to do it. Bring on the next one!

    [Or perhaps you are the consummate “people person.”…]

    not really, but I’ve learned from the more attractive half of the population; sometimes, you just have to “fake it” …

    [Don’t try to be perfect …]

    “Nature abhors perfection; cats abhor a vacuum” is one of my signature sayings.

    [Even if it takes several months – which is not at all unusual these days. Don’t give up in the eleventh hour!]

    I was just breaking the bad news to someone else that in Australia, two years is about average (that’s the official government estimate).

    [What other ways have you found that make job searching more fun for you? Or at least more bearable?]

    Well, I’ve found a 101 ways to subsist on rice; I can maintain my self-esteem by doing what I can to help neighbours who need it; and I can remind myself that, no matter how bad things seem, someone else is having an even tougher time … and perhaps I can do something about that.

    Good things to you,

    Comment by Cran Herlihy — June 24, 2010 @ 12:18 am

  2. Yes! Fake it until you make it.

    I know (re official government job search numbers). In the U.S. it’s actually 6-12 months.

    Great perspective – helping others can also be a great mood booster, as I’m sure you’ve experienced.

    Any rice recipes you care to share?

    ; )

    Comment by Ilona — June 27, 2010 @ 6:22 pm

  3. Occasionally, I daydream about writing the Indiana Jones* Cookbook (or, How to Survive in the West on a Third World Budget), because every now and then someone asks me for a recipe, and all I can give them is a blank stare.

    *”I don’t know; I’m making it up as I go …”

    To make anything palatable day after day, the only secret I can share is to play with flavours – let’s face it, boiled or steamed rice is bland.

    Unless you really need bland rice for your meal, at least break up a stock cube and add it to the rice – after that, add any spices that take your fancy (I’m a sucker for cardamom and cumin, coriander, garlic, and a pinch of peri peri for fire), and don’t be mean with them, really lay it on. Just the aroma of the spices during cooking makes it worthwhile.

    I only use as much water as you want** in the final dish so that you don’t have to drain off the good stuff (or if you do, save it for a cup of soup – did you know that a quarter cup of tomato sauce or ketchup, plus one chicken stock cube and some seasoning dissolved in 3/4 cup of boiling water and stirred together looks and tastes exactly like the tomato soup you can buy in a can?).

    ** the minimum amount of water then is just enough for the absorption method; be careful, a little bit of rice can soak up a lot of water and expand accordingly. If you’re not good at guessing, break up the cooking time into quarters or thirds, check and stir the rice, and add more water if required. My microwave cooks rice in about 15 minutes.

    I generally only have frozen vegetables, and cook them with the rice (if I’m not being lazy, I’ll cook the rice one third before adding the vegetables).

    If I’m fantastically lucky, and have some meat, I’ll prepare that separately (on the cooktop**), using most of the spices then with the meat.

    **if I have to use the microwave (eg; if I’ve run out of gas), strips of fresh meat is best done in short hot bursts, turning or stirring in between; and your microwave container will have a short operating life due to the extreme compatibility of oil and plastic.

    You know the saying, “oil and water don’t mix”? Well, they do if you use a milk product – why? because milk is a natural mix of oil and water –
    so, a dash of milk, cream, or if it’s too hot(spicy)then add plain yoghurt, in the final minute or two of cooking, stir it through, and presto! instant sauce.

    Comment by Cran Herlihy — June 27, 2010 @ 10:48 pm

  4. Damn! can’t edit after the fact – the par 4 perspective shift was not intended.

    Comment by Cran Herlihy — June 27, 2010 @ 10:51 pm

  5. Looking for a job or a new assignment is a lot like dating … appearing desperate never works! I agree; keep it light and SMILE. Just saw a segment on my local news w/local job-seekers pitching themselves & everyone just looked so nervous & serious :-(

    Hope all is well Ilona.

    Warmest regards.

    Comment by Dena A. Lorenzi — June 29, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

  6. Hey Dena – nice seeing you here! Yes, it is a lot like dating. I often tell people the same thing. Good point! : )

    Comment by careerbranches — June 30, 2010 @ 5:07 am

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