how much time should you spend on your job search?

How much time should you spend on your job search? You’ll get a range of answers depending on who you ask, but one popular answer that you’re likely to hear repeated is that a job search should be a full-time job itself.

If you’re like a lot of job-searchers, you’ve probably heard that with bewilderment and concern – and wondered if you’re doing yourself a disservice because you’re not spending 40 hours a week applying to jobs.

The reality is, though, that job-searching isn’t really going to be a full-time job for most people, so there’s no need to feel guilty for not racking up the hours.

The amount of time that your job search will take is something that varies dramatically from field to field, and from person to person. If you’re fairly junior in your career and are applying to a wide range of jobs, it’s possible that networking, writing cover letters, tailoring your resume, and wrestling with convoluted online application systems could take up a significant portion of your time. Even then, though, it probably doesn’t need to be anything approaching 40 hours a week. On the other hand, if you’re more senior or specialized, or if you’re simply in a field where there aren’t a ton of openings, it’s more likely to be impossible – or at least impractical – to spend that much time on your search.

And because of this wide variation, telling people that their search should be a full-time job, without regard for their situation, is a bad move, one that’s guaranteed to make people feel like they’re not doing enough and to get them anxious about what else they should be doing, when in fact they might already be doing exactly what they should be doing. It’s not useful advice, and we as a society should collectively resolve to stop repeating it.

If you are actually spending 40 hours a week on a job search, it’s worth taking a step back to regroup. If that time is paying off for you – if you’re getting interviews and getting close to jobs offers – then great. Carry on!  But if you’re not getting many interviews despite the time you’re putting in, take another look at how you’re spending the time. While it might sound counterintuitive, the problem might actually be that you’re applying for too many jobs. If you’re taking a scattershot approach and applying for everything that you seem remotely qualified for, your chances of getting interviews goes down – because employer can usually spot the candidates who are resume-bombing rather than targeting their search.

Instead, go for quality over quantity. Focus in on the essentials: applying only for jobs that are truly a strong match, writing compelling cover letters that are customized for each opening, having a resume that focuses on your achievements rather than just responsibilities, and making sure you’re tapping into your network.

Additionally, aside from direct job search activities, there are other things you can be doing with the rest of your time that will help with your search in a broader sense:

  • Volunteering will expand your network and give you something to talk about when interviewers ask what you’ve been doing with your time. But more importantly, job searching – and unemployment in particular – can be emotionally draining, and seeing an organization value you and your work can be restorative. Plus, it comes with the added bonus of doing good in the world.
  • Reconnecting with former coworkers, old bosses, and other networking contacts, as well as friends who you’ve fallen out of touch with. This is a good thing to do in general, because having a strong network puts you in a better position to hear about job leads, get strong recommendations, and be able to find people connected to the places you’re interviewing or would like to interview.
  • Becoming active in professional organizations in your fieldJoin industry associations or other professional affiliation groups in your city (such a young professionals group or an organization for local alumni of your college), and show up at their events. Consider taking on a leadership role, too, which will help you build your network, get interesting experience to either put on your resume or talk about in interviews, and potentially build your skills as well.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 69 comments… read them below }

  1. Kelly L.

    Yes! I feel like the “job searching is a full-time job” saying was meant for the people outside the job search, so they would look at their job-searching loved one and realize they were working hard at finding a job, not just taking a “vacation.”

    And instead it’s become internalized by the job searchers themselves, so they feel like it should literally be 40 hours a week or they feel guilty, and there’s just not enough quality job searching activity to fill all those hours.

    1. seesawyer

      I agree—as a job searcher, I definitely don’t spend 40 hrs a week on it, but I definitely appreciate that adage being out there to keep my parents off my back. I generally interpret it as, job-searching can be emotionally exhausting, especially if you aren’t very salesy and hate talking yourself up, and does require a very real, if not so large, time commitment, so be nice to yourself around it. “Job searching is a part-time job in a field you hate” might be more accurate, but just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        Yeah, job searching takes as much out of you, physically and emotionally, as a full time job.

      2. Anx

        You know, that’s so good because even if it’s not a full-time job, it usually comes with an unpredictable schedule that’s difficult to work around.

        At least in my experience.

  2. Adam

    When I hear people say job searching is full time job, I frequently find that they are people who have the perspective that if you don’t have a job you should pretty much take the first one you can get.

    I understand the perspective, as at the times in my life I was feverishly job hunting my goal often was to just get the first decent job I could. Bills to pay and all that.

    But as Allison predicted the results weren’t great, particularly when combined with a really crappy job market and me being a fairly recent grad, so one interview every couple of months seemed like a miracle.

    In addition to the lack of success, my major problem was burnout. After a certain point just looking at a job search board drained the life out of me. I saw it as a daily exercise routine of pounding my head against the wall.

    So if you are deep in the job hunt and you see yourself losing steam, I’d say give yourself permission to take one day away from the mess. One day away likely isn’t going to effect your overall search, and regrouping like Alison advised could do wonders for raising your spirit.

    1. OhNo

      +1

      Even if job searching really was a full-time job, you would still get the occasional vacation day or holiday. Taking a day, or even a few hours, off of job-hunting and all the stress that entails can work wonders for your well-being.

    2. Ruffingit

      I would take whole weekends off when I was searching. There were times I just needed to stop – stop looking at the job boards, stop trying to craft cover letters, stop feeling anxiety…just stop. Sometimes taking those two whole days away got me re-grouped and energized to go at it again on Monday.

  3. Rat Racer

    A friend’s husband is insisting that they keep their baby in daycare full time so that he can “job hunt” 8 hours a day. (Not that there is anything wrong having a baby in daycare, but that’s such a terrible decision financially it blows my mind)

    1. Who are you??

      Actually, depending on how long he’s been out of work, keeping the baby in daycare is a good idea. If he’s actively looking, not having to find childcare as interviews pop up means he’s going to flexible for prospective employers, it means not having to shush a crying a child or leave a room to take a call. I agree that childcare is expensive but if it means struggling for a short time while he actively looks for a position then it might be worth it in the long run.

      1. fposte

        Additionally, with a lot of daycare situations you can’t just pop kids back in after you’ve taken them out, so if the family would need daycare when he does have a job it might well make more sense to leave the kid there rather than risking losing the spot

      2. MandyBabs

        I’d say there’s a fair compromise of maybe 2-3 days a week of child care. That way there is not only a higher chance of the kid already being covered if the spouse is called for an interview, but the allotted breaks in a job search are also there to prevent burnout.

        1. The Bookworm

          This is for MandyBabs –

          Where I live, daycares don’t have an option for 2-3 days a week for a baby.

          But maybe they couple could find a babysitter or an in home daycare that would have a 2-3 days a week option.

          1. MJH

            Where I live, you are required to keep your child in a daycare for 2-3 days per week to save her spot.

            Daycare costs $1,000 or so per month, so it does seem ridiculous to be paying for 40 hours per week of daycare when dad can watch the child for a few days a week and job hunt on the other days.

      3. Allison

        Agreed. Getting a kid into daycare can be a pain from what I hear; a lot of the good places fill up and have waiting lists, so if you take your kid out of daycare you might have a tough time getting them back in when you need it again, and finding temporary childcare might be difficult depending on where you live.

      4. Rat Racer

        Yes, but this guy has been out of work for 6 months. Part time daycare, maybe, but full time? That’s a very expensive job search. I’m being judgmental, and I know it. I just can’t fathom how anyone needs 8 hours a day every day to job hunt.

        1. Elysian

          Different strokes for different folks – it might not be a decision I would make, but some people need the quiet time, flexibility, etc. Their financials are their decision.

          In the same vein, I know someone who is a stay-at-home mom (whose kids are in college, out of the house mind you) who puts her dog into doggy day care every day so that she can get things done around the house. So, for some people that uninterrupted time could be a high priority, I guess.

        2. Anonsie

          I’d bet he’s saying it’s so he can job hunt all day but it’s also largely so he can have some time off where he’s not watching the baby. If he’s been home six months with an infant all day every day, I can see how he’d be getting worn out.

        3. Meg Murry

          Its also possible that the daycare has scholarships for parents like your friends. Or the family qualifies for childcare subsidies to help unemployed workers pay for childcare. Or the grandparents are offering to pay.
          Unless one of the people paying for it is complaining directly about it to you – stop judging and MYOB

          1. Kelly O

            Yup. And there are also programs you can qualify for through some states that subsidize childcare, so it may not be the outrageous expense you might imagine.

          2. Kelly O

            (I have an itchy enter finger today, sorry.)

            Also, depending on how old the child is, having that child at home may not be the best choice. I don’t want to plop my daughter down in front of Disney Junior all day while I try to make calls and concentrate. It’s one of those “would be workable sometimes” things, but not on a regular basis.

            You can’t always guarantee your interviews can be scheduled Monday/Wednesday/Friday either (or Tuesday/Thursday, or whatever your part-time daycare arrangement might be.)

            Basically it’s just one of those things that can be affected by so many different variables, it’s hard to determine what’s right for your own family, much less what might be right for someone else’s.

  4. Allison

    My last job hunt felt like a “full time job” in that I actually got a few irons in the fire quickly, but then I felt like I had to be ready to answer the phone or respond to e-mails during the workday. I had a few non-work things I wanted to catch up on, errands I wanted to run while I had the time, but I knew that if I missed a call from a hiring manager it might take a while before I could connect with them again, which would slow down the process.

    It didn’t help that my cell phone battery was on the fritz. Bulging battery, for those who’ve heard the term. Basically my phone would die less than a minute into a phone call, so I could only make and receive calls when my cell was plugged in.

    1. GrumpyBoss

      That happened to me on my last job search. I was interviewing with a very well known company who is notorious for not bringing in a lot of outside people for senior roles – they almost always promote from within. So just the phone screen seemed like a major coup. 25 minutes into the interview, my cell died. I tried everything and finally shrugged it off. Wrote it off as an interview that went poorly so I won’t hear back. I crafted my thank you/apology email and set about recovering the phone. When it came back online, I had 5 messages from the interviewer. They were worried they scared me off and I wasn’t interested in the role.

      So I won that round, evil cell phone.

    2. danr

      If your cell has a removable battery, get a spare with a charger, and keep it charged. It has been invaluable more than once. iphone folks are out of luck, I think.

      1. Allison

        I’ll be doing that going forward. I have a portable charger which can jumstart a phone that’s died from a faulty battery, and I’ll be sure to have a spare battery ready to go by the time my phone’s about 1.5 years old.

        Also, I’ve heard that Motorola phones also don’t have removable batteries, so I’ll pretty much never get a phone from that brand.

        1. De (Germany)

          External battery packs are great. Charge them overnight and your phone can stay connected to it all day. I play a battery intensive game on my smartphone and between my husband and me we have three of those :-)

          1. James M

            I have a couple external batteries (5v 2.6 amp-hours). I charge them from a 5.5v solar panel in my car, then use them to charge my phone. I like the geek factor of it, even if it’s not totally efficient.

        2. NotMyRealName

          Where did you hear that? I’ve owned a lot of phones and I’ve never had one (including Motorolas) that didn’t have removable batteries. I’d just make sure to have the salesperson demonstrate how to remove the battery before you buy!

          1. Kelly O

            Some newer phones have a built-in battery that can’t be removed. I have a Motorola Atrix HD, and the battery is not removable. My husband has a Samsung Galaxy S something or other, and his does not have the removable battery.

            It seems to be less and less common. Although an external power supply might be a good idea.

  5. Coelura

    I tend to recommend setting a goal of a certain number of quality job applications per week or per day. In other words, the jobs need to be 80% or better match and be a job they’d be willing to take (company, location, etc). For general IT positions, I usually recommend 10 applications per week. That’s about 2.5-3 hours per day. That’s more than enough stress & leaves time for volunteer work & networking.

    1. AmyNYC

      This is how I did my job search – set aside a few hours two or three nights after work and apply to 2, 3, 4 however many jobs you make your goal each “work period”

  6. Dani

    In the past when I’ve done job-searching (3 times over the past 7 yrs – so I’m not exactly an expert), I usually aim to complete one resume and cover letter a night for a different posting 4 nights a week, and leave the 5th work night for job research and note-taking (I’m a grown-up Hermione), networking, etc. I try to enjoy the weekends and get out of the work/job-search headspace, because it can really stress me out.

    It’s worked really well for me and helped me to move up in my career. Whenever I’ve done the apply-for-a-job-a-day rout, I’ve had the fortune of going through 3-4 interview processes at the same time, and getting to mull over offers and choose the one that’s best for me.

    That said, I’ve only lived in big cities, and have only job-searched when I was currently employed. My skills are communication & marketing – based, so it’s not terribly difficult for me to whip up a custom cover letter and sell the heck out of myself, so I know I’m a lucky duck.

  7. Cautionary tail

    A job search is situation dependent. if you are working then it can’t be a full-time job, but if you are laid off with no severance, unemployment is running out, savings are exhausted, and others are counting on you to support them, then you had better already be working on finding a job as a full-time occupation. Certainly some more senior position will have fewer postings, however you then need to expand the geography of your search. When I was laid off and exhausted all contacts and all local options I expanded from my little corner of the USA to the entire country and ultimately to all English speaking countries in the world and I did get an interview via Skype with Australia.

    In the US, until recently, no job meant no healthcare and with sick people in the family slacking off on the job search can be a life or death situation and most certainly was in my case. Using COBRA was a choice between eating and having healthcare so it was time to redouble the job search efforts.

    Since some online job applications can take over an hour to fill out applying to five or six related jobs a day is full-time. As you get better at the forms and can cut-n-paste then-edit from Word documents where you saved prior answers your efficiency will increase. You also learn to not get frustrated at the stupid questions that are on forms like “what exact day did you start/leave this position 30 years ago” and just put January 1 in for all requested dates and get them done faster.

    You also have to sift through all the cr*p that comes in from online job search sites/recruiters because so many of them either create fake listings, continue to push positions that were filled months ago, or that find a position that a company puts on their website and push that, even though the company has no intention of paying a recruiter. I was even contacted by a recruiter that wanted me to create my own company (thus making me ineligible for unemployment) and working with their local recruiting office that would have people hire my services. I went to one company for them (without forming my own company) and they wouldn’t even let me in the door. I drove four hours and waited three hours. I later found out the recruiter did have a local office in my city and others around the US (actually PO boxes) but was really an outbound call center in India that was just trying to get people like me to get gigs and then give them something like 50%.

    1. Dan

      That stuff about forming your own company us weird. You’d have the same net effect by being a 1099 contract employee. A lot less paperwork that way.

      1. Cautionary tail

        Yes. That was why I wouldn’t do it until I had something lined up. I was long-term unemployed/depressed and it was the only response I had gotten in a while so I was gullible. I still had enough self-worth that I was cautious and the more I learned about them the more skeptical I got. The one time I went out for them to that company, it was a company that mine old one had worked with regularly and it seemed like it was legitimate…but it wasn’t. I’ve been employed for a few years now and last week I just got a call from them trying to “place” me in the company I’m already working in and due to my inside knowledge I knew there was no such open position and they just wanted me to cold-call my own company.

    2. Colette

      I understand and agree that if you need a job to pay the bills, you have to be making a serious effort to find one – but that may not be 8 hours a day. You still need to be thoughtful about what you’re applying for – whether it’s a job that works for your long term career plans or it’s a survival job so you can pay the bills, you need to be able to explain why you are interested in the job and think about what your life will look like if you take it. (Job is an hour away? How will that affect your life and transportation options? You have to move? Will you be able to sell your house/find a new place/pay for movers?)

      It may take 8 hours a day to do what you need to do, but if it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean you not taking the job hunt seriously.

      1. Cautionary tail

        Although I understand your point of view and am not trying to be antagonistic, try explaining to your spouse who needs an operation that you are taking your job search seriously, when you aren’t continually working on it.

        1. Colette

          If you owned a business that had steady traffic between 11 am and 2 pm, but nothing the other 21 hours of the day, could you increase your profits by staying open from 7 am – 11 pm?

          It’s the same situation here – you should devote whatever hours necessary to increase your chances of getting a job – whether you’re applying for jobs, networking, or taking a course to gain qualifications that apply in your industry. Continuing past the point of being productive won’t help, and it may hurt as it just increases your desperation and frustration.

          1. Koko

            Yes. Nearly everything has a point of diminishing returns, and often a point of counterproductivity (e.g. you’re so burned out/stressed/sleep-deprived from scouring job boards and filling out applications and tweaking your resume that your perform poorly in an interview).

            1. Creig an Tuire

              I was lucky enough to hunt (and find) while still employed and had a goal of “Every day send one application or write one follow-up or something else constructive, and fine one new job posting to deal with later.”

              Even on that schedule, there were nights where it took me a while to find anything suitable. If I were job hunting eight hours a day every day, I’d quickly run out of things to apply for. And that’s when the depression would kick in…

  8. Hedgehog

    Interesting. Does anyone have thoughts on how this changes if you’re in a field where the work is usually short-term? I’m thinking specifically of organizing work, where there are often 3, 6, or 9 month contracts and then everyone is laid off at the end of the campaign.

    It’s really frustrating to have to repeat the job-searching process every few months!

    1. CTO

      I would imagine that in organizing work, there’s even more emphasis on personal networking to land your next position. Most of the organizers I know seem to move amongst orgs/campaigns/politicians who know and work with each other. It’s not necessarily more or less time spent on the job search, but it’s certainly done a little differently than in some fields.

  9. Anx

    This topic gives me a lot of anxiety.

    I have huge gaps in my resume and I really just don’t know how to explain them. I wasn’t taking care of family (except for a short period of going home after a natural disaster). I wasn’t in school but for 4 months of it or part time here and there. The honest truth is that I was trying to find a job and couldn’t. That sometimes I tried EVERYTHING and other weeks I didn’t try at all because a 4 year job search takes a lot out of you.

    Sometimes it’s tempting to just say “I’m still trying, isn’t that something?”

    Yes, I would have been better off starting my own project or something (not a business, because I have no capital and no experience). But every day I think about starting that skills/experience building exercise, I stop myself because it feels irresponsible. As fruitless as a jobsearch may be, it feels like the right thing to do when you have rent due.

    I do think, though, that people don’t realize just how hard it is to find a job. I hear older people suggest McDonald’s and I have tried there many times! I can’t pass a personality test to save my life, but I can’t be honest about that because that’s a big red flag.

    1. Colette

      What if you devoted 2 hours a day to the project you’re thinking of?

      Job hunting is really frustrating, and hard, and demoralizing – it might help to have something else to focus on.

      The other thing I’d suggest is networking – not to ask for a job, but to get advice on how you could improve your skills/make yourself more marketable. It helps, because (especially if you’re talking with people you have worked with) it reminds you that you are capable and useful. If you are just out of school, you may not have many work contacts, but you may have some direct contacts or indirect contacts you could talk to to get info and a different perspective.

      1. Anx

        I’m about 5 years out of school but still a new grad in that I haven’t broken through to the other side yet.

        Yes, 2 hours a day sounds like a great idea. Maybe 3 hours a week. For a while I was doing really well at devoting some time to myself, but once my few-hours-a-week job became a no-hours-a-week job, it all fell apart.

        The second issue is that it’s hard to stay committed to these projects when I’m not sure I can stay local (if I don’t find something soon, I’ll have to split from my partner and move home).

        I think what I really need to do is let go of being efficient and productive and being focused on results. I need to just do it regardless of whether or not it’s a ‘waste’ of time. Because devoting my time to trying to get a job just isn’t working.

        I’m taking a course in hopes that it expands my network a bit right now. One thing I’m having a difficult time with is that in the fields I’m currently applying to (food service, retail) there really isn’t a lot of advice on how to set up informational interviews. No one reads your cover letters and some places don’t even accept resumes. They unfortunately have a reputation as being a low-skill field and there doesn’t seem to be a path to get started. I will try to network more in that way.

        1. Colette

          Hmm. What about a business owners association for networking? I don’t know how publicly accessible they are, but they might be able to point you in the right direction.

          About the project – can you change your definition of success to be progress rather than completion? Define the stages, break them down into tasks, and celebrate the completion of a task rather than waiting until the entire thing is done.

          When I was last unemployed, I made an anti-procrastination list (of things that needed doing around the house -e.g. Organize the drawer of plastic containers) and did one thing a day. It was helpful as an alternate focus to job hunting.

          1. Anx

            My problem is that it’s so tempting to focus on those other things because you can see results.

            When I make a list though I can limit myself just to that list so I don’t put off job searching tasks too much.

            1. Colette

              Could you make (& stick to) a rule that you can only work on your project once you’ve checked the job boards/reached out to someone for a networking discussion/applied for a job?

              I found things like that were a major motivator for me – i.e. “I have to apply for this job before I can do X”.

    2. James M

      I’m curious about what field you’re interests are in. I’ve found that with software projects, it’s important to plan development in such a way that I can regularly test components (alone and together) just so I can be encouraged by the little successes en route to the Big Success (other systemic benefits of modular design notwithstanding).

      1. Anx

        Not in software! Or computers at all.

        Healthcare, customer service, public health, biology, and education are where I have the most experience and interest.

    3. Mimmy

      Hi, are you me? I probably could’ve written almost that exact post. I still peruse a small number of sites with job listings, but I’ve pretty much burned out and have been trying to regroup and rethink my options. Not having much luck though :( I always find reasons to shoot down any ideas that come to mind.

      The one thing that HAS been really helpful for me is volunteering, which is discussed in Alison’s article. I’ve been volunteering with several groups on-and-off for ~3 years, and while none have generated any job leads, I’ve made a lot of great connections with people who have come to know my skills, interests, and personality. So if you haven’t tried volunteering, I would consider this as another avenue.

      1. Anx

        I have definitely burned out a few times. The hardest part is when someone I know wants to do something fun but “I don’t have time.” Unemployment changes the rules of time. It’s hard to imagine taking off a day or a week or even an hour or two because there’s such urgency to find something. Then before you know it you have a glaring resume gap and not much to show for your time.

        This year I discovered that I’m a perfectionist. The biggest thing I’ve accomplished is letting go of some of that and putting myself out there and starting where things are, and not where I think I should be. It’s helpful. Extremely helpful. And it’s helped in my job, too! Unfortunately, therapy isn’t exactly something you can put on your resume, even when it’s a major accomplishment.

        I do volunteer. Actually, I’m about to quit volunteering I think. I’ve been with my org for 2 years and I don’t feel like I’m learning much more. It’s not just a charity org so I don’t feel like I’m just doing it to give back (especially when I’m in a vulnerable place myself right now). I’m thinking of going on hiatus there and trying a smaller org where I can actually apply my own strengths.

  10. HR Pro

    I was job searching while employed and it was hard. I’d get home from work after 7 pm, then eat dinner, and then have to start searching the job boards. If I found one that interested me, maybe it would be 9 pm when I could start tailoring a cover letter. But by then, I’d often be brain dead and it would be hard to do the cover letter. So then I’d continue it the next night and submit it then.

    Combine that with some of the normal evening activities that have to happen from time to time (food shopping, a phone call from dad, dinner out with friends, late night at work, etc.), and I couldn’t get much job searching done each week. The weekends were helpful, though. But in that sense it did feel like my full time job was interfering with my job search.

  11. NylaW

    I can’t imagine the stress of job hunting while unemployed. I’ve seen several good friends and my brother-in-law go through it and it stressed me out to watch them.

    I think you can put too much effort into job searching so much so that you get burnt out on the search. At which point, what kind of employee will you be if you’re already at that point? It’s good to step back and let yourself breathe and do other things.

    1. Peep!

      “put too much effort into job searching so much so that you get burnt out on the search”

      I feel like a whiner when I say it, but I totally agree! :( Then of course I get the flack from my parents who have the “full time job search!!!” mentality.

      I’ve been job hunting more or less continually since early 2009 because of graduating school/short term jobs (with the exception of about a year when I had a longer-term contract), so I’m just SO tired of the whole process.

      I feel like I’m being as efficient as possible, but even just -reading- through the job postings feels like an uphill battle… when I finally read a job description for a position I could see myself applying for, I realize I’m completely tired before I’ve even written a cover letter, which bums me out.

      It’s been six months since my last job contract ended, and I know I’ve passed out of the acceptable no-job window, and I’m afraid nobody will ever take a chance on me. I should have started volunteering again. Blargh.

  12. Anonsie

    For me job hunting while unemployed was more like a 24 hours a day job. I would spend a few minutes a day looking for new listings, a few hours here and there in the week applying, and the rest of my time wallowing in a sense of deep existential horror while starring blankly around the room, trying to come up with something to make my brain or body do other than sleep and coming up empty handed every time.

    If I had time left over, I’d try to create one of those mythical “projects” people always tell you to start, while keeping to my $0/month income. It did not work out well.

    1. Anx

      This made me feel better. Job searches are, for me at least, mostly emotionally labor.

      You can ‘do nothing’ but it’s not the same as reading a book or laying on your bed staring at the sun rays coming in or petting your cat or trying to draw that cat when you really can’t draw or watching tv or going for a walk or watching the ants on your porch. It’s mental paralysis.

      In college I took 18 credits/semester and worked a part time job and was in a handful of clubs and I still had time and energy for a full social life. It was so much easier than unemployment!

      My favorite is trying to be an entrepreneur. When you haven’t even found a steady entry level job, there is just no risking even a dollar on something that’s likely not going to work out. I can’t even afford printer ink how am I going to start a business with no experience? Sometimes I feel really guilty for not doing this, but my main field of study isn’t really freelance friendly.

      1. Ruffingit

        My favorite is trying to be an entrepreneur. When you haven’t even found a steady entry level job, there is just no risking even a dollar on something that’s likely not going to work out. I can’t even afford printer ink how am I going to start a business with no experience?

        YES. I would get that nonsense too when I was unemployed and desperately trying to find something. “Why don’t you just start your own business?” Seriously?? Most people have no clue what that takes. The phrase it takes money to make money is really true. Also, being an entrepreneur takes a particular type of person and not everyone is that type. It’s just irritating when people suggest you start your own business as though it’s THE answer and a super easy thing to do to boot.

        1. Sharon

          Yes, I complete agree and relate! I’m in my early 50s and was hit hard by the Great Recession after mass layoffs in my company left me unemployed in 2008. I went through an existential crisis (on TOP of mid-life crisis), and ended up going back to grad school. I’ll be graduating next year.

          Despite doing short-term consulting, interning, getting paid student assistantships, and keeping busy with projects and volunteering, I still haven’t gotten hired for any permanent employment. I’ve hardly even gotten any interviews. Unless I’ve found a job through networking and can email a person directly, I have to submit time consuming online applications. Sometimes I can whip out 5 cover letters/resumes/applications in a week. Other times, I’m lucky if I have the energy to do 1-2. I had a successful career up until the layoff. I had tons of energy and self-motivation. Now I’m in career transition, and sometimes it’s so demoralizing all I want to do is sleep. I’ve found taking longs walks, doing yoga, exercising, and managing the stress helps a lot.

          People keep telling me to start my own business. With what money as investment? My savings are wiped out. I’m living on student loans and food stamps. It’s so frustrating.

          It’s important not to let yourself get burned out. Take one day at a time and do your best. The economy is improving, so hopefully the job search process won’t be so grueling for those of us in the long-term unemployed group. I sometimes worry I’ll never get a full-time job again. But worrying over things we can’t control is a waste of time.

          1. Anx

            I know that it’s a risk for everyone to start their own business, but it’s riskier for some more than others.

            I have never heard back from an online application. I’ve heard back when there’s been the email your resume/cover letter or if I had an insider try to help me get a job, but otherwise I’ve had no success with online applications. I just hope that my area doesn’t completely become chains because chains all rely on those.

            I hope things pick up when you graduate.

        2. Anx

          I am not that person. In the past I’ve been very happy and successful in spearheading individual projects, but it’s much different when you’re totally solo (even having a role and a supportive infrastructure makes a huge difference even when you work alone or with a small team)

          I studied life science and public health. It’s simply not responsible to go rogue. Especially when my experience and education are limited.

          1. Anonsie

            Oh word, I’m in public health as well. Bottom really fell out of that one during the recession– really fell out.

            1. Anx

              My trainers at the health department would ask me almost every week if I found something yet when I was volunteering. It was so awkward to be like “well, um, no you aren’t hiring are you.” Everyone wanted their trainees to find something, but in someone else’s county.

              Of course as you know you aren’t allowed to commute heavily for some of those jobs in case there’s an emergency or a disaster, so there was no way to apply to the few counties that did post openings.

              Also, they say my license is still good but the rules were written that it expires after two years if you aren’t working in the field. Which today is completely involuntarily.

              Are you MPH? I’m REHS.

  13. Vicki

    The California EDD (the people who administer Unemployment Insurance benefits) consider the job search to essentially be a “full time job”. That is, the UI benefits are paying you to search for work. You get UI so that you can concentrate on your job search instead of concentrating on a minimum wage job (if you can find one).

    To that end, in order to keep getting UI benefits, you must:
    * apply for at least 3 jobs per week
    * be able to prove you applied for at least 3 jobs
    * be available for interviews at any time
    * not go out of town or on vacation during the week

  14. too specialized?

    I wish I saw 3 jobs a week that I could apply for. Maybe I’m too specialized; does anyone else have this issue? I want to apply for more jobs but I don’t see many that are a good fit. And yes, I’m totally open to shifting geography, and looking at transferable skills.

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