I’ve never been on an emotional roller coaster quite like unemployment. Searching for a job can be a lonely, frustrating and often lengthy process filled with uncertainty and possibility. I was met head on with questions about my ability and worth during a recent phase of unemployment, and it led to more self-doubt than I’d experienced since those awful middle school years.


Through the season of tackling my job search, I picked up a few helpful strategies to secure a position that I wanted, while clinging on to my sense of self in the process.

What everyone says about networking is true. Though I certainly know people who have come into their occupations by applying online, it’s the minority. Forbes estimates that about 40 percent of jobs are found through networking, while other news outlets estimate that percentage to be closer to 80. Networking allows you to get a better idea of whether you would be a good fit for various companies, and it enables you to discuss opportunities with an actual employee. Though we live in a tech-centric world, the personal approach is still the key.

Find advocates. Once you’ve built up a decent network of professionals in your desired work field, it’s time to find some advocates. Look for people in your social sphere who are open to discussing opportunities in their company. Ask if they would be willing to recommend you for any openings or notify you of new positions that you might be qualified for. Though it can sometimes feel uncomfortable asking others for favors like this, many people are happy to help out job-seekers and present worthy candidates for open positions.

Focus in. Beginning the job hunt by looking into a wide array of opportunities is wise, but there comes a time to focus your efforts on a few of the most promising leads. Choose companies that are both interesting to you and have your strongest connections to potential advocates. If you can, set up informational interviews with some of your advocates’ colleagues to build a bigger network and learn about different facets of the company. Learn as much as you can and set yourself apart from other applicants through your enthusiastic interest and personal connections.

Learn as much as you can and set yourself apart from other applicants through your enthusiastic interest and personal connections.

Pursue outside goals and interests. When you’re jobless, it’s easy to think about your search 24/7. Set aside time in your day or week to invest in side projects such as volunteering, learning a new language, or developing a skill you’d like to master. Set goals for yourself, not only to complete projects and feel the satisfaction of accomplishment, but also to have more content for discussion in interviews. Interviewers love to hear that you are capable of being a self-starter and that you are motivated enough to take initiative and pursue goals on your own. It makes you both a well-rounded candidate and a memorable one!

Take proper care of yourself. Unemployment can be discouraging and leave us hopeless at times. We live in a society that loves to define people by what they do, not necessarily who they are, and being in a jobless state makes it all too easy to suffer an identity crisis. Spend time in community with those who can support and encourage you through this phase, and always remember that it is just a phase. Celebrate accomplishments and progress along the way, and continually check in with yourself on how you’re handling the search emotionally. Remember that the process of finding a job takes time, and the length of that time has nothing to do with your self-worth or potential to succeed. Unemployment is a season experienced and fought through by millions, but it’s also one that can lead to many of our brightest opportunities.

Image via Jamie Beck for A Cup of Jo


  1. I love your quote on peace! God bless you and you did the right thing – seek Christ first! He holds you in the palm of His hand …Btw, I received your card. You were so thoughtful to send it! I will treasure it2&#I8.17;m glad we’re blogging buddies!

  2. This hit me right to my core. It truly is a daily battle. It was encouraging to read the tip about doing things for myself. I find, with more time, I do even less reading, writing, and exercising: three of my favorite things to do! This article motivated me to make a goal to journal more often and begin a new novel.

  3. I’m schizophrenic (it’s a label, meaningless really) and in the U.K. I have a 2% chance of being employed compared to the national average, and I’ll probably die 20 years younger.

    It’s a toughie alright. So I became a wild visionary artist and a few years later am looking forward to making my first sale of an oil painting tomorrow! Well done me!

    My advice is :

    “blaze right through it like you’re crackers and you’ll get there”




  4. I have bipolar disorder 1 and when I was laid off recently the stress of unemployment, limited funds, and the numerous rejections I received at first spun me into a serious clinical depression. I won’t cop out like Sergey Brin’s new girlfriend and say I am neither proud nor ashamed of my condition (would someone ever say something like that about breast cancer?), because I am not well-connected and I’m not a part of the wealthy club of the fabulous. Instead, I’ll own up to it and say that I’m literally scared to death by my current circumstances.

    This article constitutes a sufficient guide for neurotypicals but for those with mental disorders the experience of unemployment can become a special kind of waking nightmare. I’ve had to sideline my job search and seek medical attention to get back to a functional level for the search.

    Unfortunately through two manic episodes in the last 20 years I’ve lost almost all of my network contacts. (They curiously remove themselves from your life.) So I’m more or less on my own. There isn’t a normative solution for my situation although your advice does ring true for me on some levels. The last thing I’ll ever do is reveal my life-long illness to anyone without using an anonymous cloak. Stigma and shunning are alive and well in this valley of click-through silicon.

  5. Darling, how did you know I needed this little boost today? After landing a full time gig after months of searching, I thought I was set. Then suddenly at the end of the three month probational period, I was notified that they were going in a different direction and I was being let go. The primary cause of this was one of my bosses needed someone who could just step in and handle his load without having to walk that person through it. So he let me go and later hired his wife for the role. Needless to say it was discouraging. And as I am searching for work and getting ramped up for interviews, it’s hard to not let self doubt plague you. It’s a daily battle and fatigue is sometimes overwhelming. Thanks for reminding me that it is just a phase. It will end soon enough. I needed that so much today. You have no idea.

  6. Really nice article and useful to me. I am at that searching job phase now. Everything makes me so depress whenever I think about getting a job. Reading this article really helps me a lot. Thanks Darling…

  7. This is a great article and I think a lot of people are probably needing it right now (myself included) – not only the unemployed, but also the part-time or self-employed. Without a consistent flow of cash, we can easily feel like we’re failing as we see our bank accounts dropping. Keeping a strong sense of self worth is paramount during tumultuous or transitional states. Thanks for the awesome advice!

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