5 Tips For Surviving Your Job Search: How to Stay Calm While Waiting For a Job Offer

The physical part of the job search, like setting up interviews, responding to job listings and updating your resume, is relatively easy to control. But the mental part of the job search – staying positive when you don’t know when a job offer will actually come through – is much tougher.

This is especially hard once summer hits, and you lose the structure and familiarity that school offers.

I’ve asked some of my former job seekers who now have jobs what they did to get through the uncertainty of graduating or still looking for a summer job. Here are some of some tips from them, and from me:

Don’t Feel Guilty About Taking Time Off

Rather than conducting your job search 24/7, designate specific hours each day for sending out resumes and setting up networking meetings. When you have completed your tasks for the day, take time off.

See friends, go to the gym, visit your family, or watch reality TV – whatever works for you! Don’t feel guilty about it. Sooner or later you will be up early for a new job, where you’ll most likely be working long hours. Plus, the more you socialize, the more likely it is that you will talk to someone who knows someone who can help you with your job search.

A recent grad I worked with last year eventually landed the job of his dreams. He told me that his biggest regret was not enjoying his free time while he still had it.

Designate a Specific Space for your Job Search

Pick a spot for conducting your job search, whether it’s a desk in your apartment, your kitchen table, the library or your local Starbucks. Wherever it is, try to stick to a location and a schedule for conducting job search activities. I recommend not surfing job listings on your laptop at 3 a.m. – it will just keep you up and derail your job search for the next day. If you like to study in the library at school, that atmosphere might work best for your job search. If you prefer studying at home, then try that. Whatever atmosphere worked best for you for when studying will most likely work for your job search.

Surround Yourself With Positive People 

Sometimes hanging around with other job seekers helps, and sometimes it doesn’t. If you find that you are all very anxious about finding jobs, you may not be able to support each other. Hang out with those who have a positive outlook, and really know you well. It only takes one or two people who really have your back to make a tense situation seem much better. If telling people you have an interview causes them to follow up and ask you if you got the job, then don’t tell them about the interview. That way you won’t feel as pressured.

Go To Plan B 

I’ve met many people who know they want to be entertainment lawyers or sports lawyers. I’ve also met many who want to work for a very large corporate law firm. Those are all much coveted jobs – but often tough to land. While I would never tell someone to give up on their dream job, you may want to have a Plan B in place if you are getting frustrated waiting for that entertainment firm to call. What other type of job would prepare you for your dream job? Perhaps look for a smaller firm that does mainly litigation, but does some entertainment law? Whatever it is, sometimes it makes sense to take another job that will be easier to land for now, and that will prepare you for that dream job later. Even a “temp” position may help in the short term if you are getting very anxious about your job search and feel that a routine may help you until a permanent offer comes along.

Realize That This is A Short Term Problem 

Although being unemployed is stressful, it’s not forever.  Try to keep a sense of perspective, and push through the uncertainty. Often I’ve found that after sending out resumes for months, job seekers will suddenly get several offers in a row. So go check the new job listings and send out a few more applications. This might be your lucky day.


Hillary Mantis consults with law students, pre-law students and lawyers. She is a Director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University and author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers. You can contact Hillary at altcareer@aol.com