As graduation season approaches and college seniors everywhere trade jeans and t-shirts for caps and gowns, the pressure to find a job is on. It’s not a good feeling; believe me, I’ve been there.
My senior year job search was two years ago, but I felt that same anxiety when I began training for the Broad Street Run, a 10-mile race down Philadelphia’s iconic Broad Street in January. The task felt completely daunting.
Yet when you’re training for a long-distance race – whether it’s a 10-miler or a marathon – all the time, effort, sweat and tears eventually lead to successs. And that applies to the search for your dream job, too.
After training for the past four months (and completing my own marathon job search), I came up with six lessons that apply to finding a job out of college:
1. Have a plan
Just like you wouldn’t wake up one day and decide to run 10 miles, it would be foolish to begin a job search or go on an interview without doing the proper research and prep-work. By now, you should likely have your resume in order and a portfolio of your work ready to go for your next interview opportunity – so you’re prepared when it arises.
Consider creating an Excel spreadsheet or Google Doc to keep track of the status of job applications, contacts and interviews.
2. Be flexible and adapt quickly when that plan inevitably changes
Contrary to point number one, this is life, and it doesn’t always go our way. Imagine my Type-A horror when I woke up one Sunday morning, ready for my long run of the week, only to find it pouring outside. My neat, perfect Excel sheet, mapping out the next 12 weeks of training was seemingly ruined.
But I took a deep breath, and adapted. During the job search, too, attitude is everything, and the ability to roll with the punches will serve you well.
3. Embrace the highs and lows
Understand that there will be good days and there will be (very) bad days. Despite sticking to a rigorous training schedule, not every run is perfect; in fact, some feel downright impossible.
During the job search, there will be moments when you feel like you’re on Cloud 9, and there will be moments of disappointment and loss. Embrace both those feelings; the highs will get you through the lows, and the lows will teach you more about yourself and what you want in a job to get you to that next high.
4. Find support
You know that “network” everyone is always talking about finding and nurturing? Now is the time to lean on them. In terms of the job search, your network (both in real life and online) can help you perfect your resume, introduce you to others in your field, offer advice and sometimes even help you land a job.
Your network can also give you the motivation and inspiration you need to keep moving forward – literally. My running network on the website DailyMile keeps me accountable and constantly pushes me to keep reaching my goals.
5. Celebrate mini-wins
While the feeling of achieving a goal is certainly sweet, it’s also important to recognize mini-wins along the way. Throughout my training, every new personal distance record I achieved felt like a reason to celebrate; five miles, six miles, seven miles! Of course, they weren’t the full 10 miles I’m striving for, but each run was a step in the right direction.
While you’re job searching, pat yourself on the back for those mini-wins. Whether it’s hearing back from a potential employer or being invited back for a second interview, every step of the journey deserves its own recognition.
6. Relish in accomplishment – and then create an even bigger goal
Once you cross that finish line or receive that job offer, it’s rightfully your time to celebrate. After all, you did just accomplish the unthinkable!
But then it’s time to set your sights on something bigger, professionally or personally. For me, that something bigger is the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November.
What’s your “something bigger?”