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Why I Hate This Job Search Advice

“Treat your job search like your job.” This conventional job search advice makes me cringe.

No. Please don’t. Here’s why.

That advice disregards the mental, emotional and physical impact that comes with conducting a job search. We forget, or overlook, how much courage and vulnerability it requires.

As humans, we depend on emotional connection. It’s baked into our DNA. So is a desire to get approval. A job search is fraught with rejection of varying degrees. Early in a job search, the searcher typically puts forth a great deal of energy, but often without getting any connection in return. It can be pretty isolating. Updating resumes and LinkedIn profile, asking people to review them, reaching out to people to network, not to mention filling out job applications—all of that requires a tremendous amount of energy and often, courage. And just as often, what a job searcher gets in return is … crickets.

Resumes disappear into a black hole, aka, an applicant tracking system. People you’ve reached out to don’t respond right away, or at all. And you have to keep drumming up the energy and courage to continue reaching out, continue researching and customizing your resume, taking time to apply.

A job search is an emotional process. It’s a continual output of energy, and making yourself vulnerable. The reason updating a resume or LinkedIn profile is “hard” is because of the constant chatter in your running like a runaway train in your brain:

Should I include this A, B, C … X, Y, Z experience?

What should I put in the header?

I don’t really want to do this anymore, but what else am I supposed to do?

How do I talk about myself using the right key words without sounding like everyone else and not bragging?

What do I say if they notice this employment gap?

What if they ask me about that one job/project/boss/coworker I hated?

Spending any amount of time going through a thought process similar to the one above is just plain exhausting. Thinking you should spend 40 hours a week just plugging away like a job search machine … well, it’s demoralizing, and I would argue, demotivating. Doing that every day for eight hours a day?

Um. No. Not productive.

I believe in many cases it can even be counter productive. People believe they ought to be spending a lot of time on something that can be rather unpleasant, and so they avoid working on their resume or reaching out to people, and then they feel guilty because they didn’t “treat their job search like a job.”

No doubt, sometimes a job search is exhilarating, but usually not as often as it’s tiring. And that roller coaster is hard to ride.

I say you need to figure out a schedule that suits you and capitalizes on when you are most productive, work for a couple hours, and then figure out how to fill your well. Do things that make you feel good and give you energy.

The second reason I think this is bad advice is … If you didn’t like your previous job, why would you want to make that the template for how to look for your next job? Most of the people I talk to are burned out by the demands of their job, and what they need most is a break. A respite to recharge. If your previous job made your life a grind, take this opportunity to explore what kind of schedule does work for you.

An Alternate Approach

A more human(e) way to approach your job search is to think about it like an experiment. Here are some alternate ways to approach your job search and really, alternate ways to start your day.

How can I make this fun?

Who can I help today?

Today could be the day I find the job of my dreams.

Who would you love to catch up with that you haven’t spoken to in awhile?

What can you learn today about yourself through this process?

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