9 Things We All Can’t Stand About the Job Search — And How to Calmly Respond

woman moping in front of laptop in cafe

Adobe Stock / khosrork

Leslie W. Price
Leslie W. Price10
Theatre director, writer, and arts educator.
  • Job searching sucks because the systems in place to source candidates, follow-up with applicants and accept or reject applications are outdated.
  • Rejections are the toughest part of the job search, followed by the time it takes to fill out applications and the vulnerability that needs to be displayed in each cover letter/interview.
  • Financial stress, job discrimination and waiting to hear back from employers are three more frustrating parts of the job search, many of which are beyond our control.

Ready to take control of your job search? Make a FGB professional profile.

We’ve all been there. Spending hours scouring job postings for something that might be a decent  fit. Applying for jobs that are “kind of OK” while hoping and praying for that dream job to come across your path. It’s no secret that job searching sucks, so in solidarity, here’s a bit of validation about this challenging time and a reminder that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

1. Rejection.

This might be the toughest part of any job search, but it's especially challenging if your job search drags on for a while. Rejections are somewhat easier to deal with at the beginning of the search when you're still feeling hopeful about the prospect of a new start. Over time, all of the rejections can make you start to question your skills and self-worth. 

As difficult as it is to keep your spirits up when you are struggling to get hired, it's important to have a bit of perspective. Remember that your goal is to (hopefully) end up in a position where you'll be valued. If a potential job doesn't work out, there's a good chance it wouldn't have been the best fit for you anyway.

2. It’s tedious.

Sending emails, writing cover letters and tailoring your resume to showcase your skills perfectly for each job opportunity takes a lot of time. All of that carefully crafted writing and proofreading can be exhausting, and it's no wonder you might feel drained throughout the process. Give yourself permission to limit the amount of time you're spending on applying for work and dedicate part of your day to other pursuits. 
Whether you step away from your computer to take a hike and recharge or you dive into a skill-building course to help you with those job prospects, you'll return to your search with a little bit more energy and enthusiasm.

3. Financial stress.

Job searching is especially difficult when you need a new position because your life circumstances have changed. This could be because you've been laid off, your relationship status has changed, or you need to make more money to support a loved one during a financially stressful time. 
There's not much you can do to alleviate the financial stress from a situation that's out of your control, but it's important to recognize that you aren't alone. Lots of folks go through financial difficulties, and there are resources to help you navigate it all. You might also start thinking creatively about how you can pick up some smaller gigs to tide you over until you land the perfect job.

4. Vulnerability.

Putting yourself into the job market can make even the strongest person feel really vulnerable. People who you don't know are judging your worth, and that doesn't always feel great. Some folks are able to embrace their vulnerability and use it to help them connect with potential employers. 
This is especially true for careers where empathy is an important factor to success — social services, education, the arts and health care. If feeling vulnerable is uncomfortable for you, that's OK, too. Take a moment to honor the way you're feeling and know that it won't last forever.

5. Waiting.

As classic rocker Tom Petty reminded us, the waiting is the hardest part. After you send off your application, you have to wait to hear whether you got an interview. After the interview, you have to wait to see if you make it to the final round of interviews. On and on it goes, and meanwhile you're wondering if the waiting game will ever end. It most definitely will, but figuring out what to do with yourself while you're on pins and needles can be tricky. 
For one thing, you can keep up your job search. You might not get the job you're waiting on, and you might decide the position isn't right for you anyway. Make sure to take time for self-care — distract yourself with your favorite hobbies and your favorite people. You'll have your answer about that job eventually, and you need to focus on the other good things in your life, too! 

6. Job discrimination.

As much as we'd all like to believe that job discrimination isn't a "thing" anymore, it definitely still is. People are discriminated against for all sorts of reasons — gender, age, disability, weight, race and appearance to name a few. Sometimes it's obvious that you're being discriminated against, in which case you have to decide if you want to pursue legal action. 
Sometimes, it's hard to be sure if that's what's going on or not. Employers often don't even recognize their own prejudices. Dealing with discrimination on top of the stress if job searching in general is super frustrating, and it's a good idea to reach out for support if you feel this is something you're encountering. 

7. Career changes.

Asking employers to consider you for a role that's very different from what you've done in the past can make your job search doubly challenging. If you're trying to make a career change, invest some time in working with a coach or career service to retool your resume and cover letter so they showcase skills that will transfer from the work you've done in the past to the work you'll do in the future. As you go through your search, take the time to reevaluate your application materials and consider asking potential employers for feedback when it seems appropriate. 

8. Settling.

Let's face it — there are times when you are in a position when you need to take the job you're offered even if it isn't what you'd hoped for.  If you're in a situation where you're prepared to settle for a position that's "only OK," don't feel bad about it. Taking a job that you're overqualified for or that you don't love isn't a sign that you aren't talented or deserving of more. It's just where you are right now.
Once you've taken that job, allow yourself to rest the part of your brain that was trying to sell yourself during your job search. Enjoy a bit of stability for a while. You've earned it! If you know that job isn't where you want to be long term, start thinking about how you can use it to build up your skills to help you when you're ready to jump back into your search. 

9. Guesswork.

Job searching can feel like being a mind reader. Job postings give you a good idea of what employers are looking for, but it's hard to know how to tailor your application and interview for a specific office environment or  other nuances that will help you fit in with the culture. It's always best to be yourself and remember that you need the job to fit you as much as they need you to fit the job. You've got this!

Leslie W. Price is a theatre artist, educator, and writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Find her on LinkedIn or visit her portfolio