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How to cope when you can't find a job

As you may have read in some of my recent blog posts, this year has been a particularly difficult one so far.  As I approach my 24th birthday I feel my childhood slipping away (pathetic, I know.)  One of the things that has led to my recent feelings of intense adulthood has been a job search that has now gone on for nearly five months.

I do currently have a job working part-time as an AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) tutor.  But it’s not really paying the bills.  The only reason my spouse and I are getting by is because we got a stellar tax return (thank the powers that be for tax credits for students!)  Needless to say, I’ve been pretty stressed out about the whole employment thing.

However, in these past months I have learned a few important things that I think could be helpful to you.  Also, if you employ these techniques I have a feeling that your significant other will be grateful.

1)      Realize that you are not a worthless lump. In my case, I have often felt that because nobody seems to want to hire me on a full time basis I must be a useless human being.  I am not a useless human being and neither are you!  It may be small steps, but try to congratulate yourself for small things. “I got the dishes done today.  Go me!”

2)      Use this free time to your benefit. I may not be an exemplary example of this (about half a dozen books on rape culture are next to me taunting me, “Rachel, read us!”) but you can use this time to be a spectacular student.  This goes back to the first point.  If you’re an awesome student you’re definitely not a worthless lump.

3)      Pursue a hobby. You can only do homework for so long before you start to lose your mind.  And maybe that hobby will turn into your job.  For example, I recently wrote a book and I am now working with an editor (hired through the writing center at my college) to polish it off so that people will actually buy it.  Do you like doing crafts?  Maybe you can sell them on Etsy. Interested in photography? You may be able to start a small business out of your apartment or dorm.  Tough economic times call for creative thinking!  And if you’re trying to be creative in some way you are not a worthless lump.

4)      Take care of yourself.  Yes, this goes back to that first point again (that’s really the main one, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now.)  If you’re taking care of yourself (you know, showering, getting out of your P.J’s once in a while, eating fruit) then you’ll have an easier time convincing yourself that you are not worthless.  You’ll be able to be successful in school and work on your hobbies.

In conclusion I will simply say, good luck!  I have a feeling that we’re all going to need it.


jvstanley's picture

You are my sunshine

I have been trying to find a job since December to no avail.  I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the economy up here isn't exactly the greatest.  I've felt useless myself and have tried to remain optimistic but fail miserably.  I'm a single mother of two and despite my fiance's efforts to help me, I want to do this on my own and don't want to rely on someone to simply just take care of me.   I've gotten discouraged and there are times when all I feel is lumpish going through the same routines and feeling like I should be doing more.  it seems like time is not exactly on my side, either between the responsibilities of being a parent, a student, a fiance with her man being overseas-trying to be supportive and patient with all of his quirks and trying to maintain some sort of social life outside of social networks.  

What makes me feel odd is the fact that I'm told that I need to relax, because i'm so uptight when relaxation is the last thing I feel I need to do because I have so much worry on my mind that I can't seem to concentrate on relaxing.  I love your ideas, though and I have a high love of art myself.  I'm thinking that it may be in my best interest to start honing in my abilities rather than think about what I'm not qualified for and wallowing in self-pity because I'm under-qualified for the positions that are currently available in the job market.  

Thank you for this post, I think I really needed this kind of boost to keep from feeling like the end of the world is near.  

Clare Regina's picture

I can really

                I can really relate to this blog post. I have been searching for a full-time position since I graduated with my Master’s in early 2009. I am even willing to take a full-time job outside of my field, just to have the security of full-time work and benefits. Right now I am working two part-time, per diem jobs. Although I feel lucky to have my jobs and like what I do, I understand the disheartening feeling that the reason you cannot work is because you are worthless.
                I have coped by becoming more involved in my community. Though many people tell me I would be more likely to find a job if I left the area I live in, the truth is that I love this community and I am willing to “stick it out” until I find something permanent here. In the mean time, I participate in the local community chorus and volunteer at the local animal shelter. I am taking a Spanish class to refresh what I have learned in high school, and hope to continue taking Spanish classes until I know the language well enough to become certified to teach it. Of course, I give 100 percent at my part-time jobs as well. It is important to me to be proud of my work and what I do.
rachelsholiday's picture

Thank you!

I'm glad you found this post to be helpful.  It was certainly very therapeutic for me to write it, haha.  I’m originally from the northeastern part of Minnesota and the economy is pretty dicey up there as well.  I thought it would be better in the “big city” but that is not really the case.

I can definitely relate to what you’re talking about with not wanting someone to support you.  My husband has been really supportive (and luckily we got a good tax return, otherwise we’d be lost) but I feel so helpless when I’m not contributing financially to our family.  I also feel very strongly that both men and women should be able to support themselves separately.  Even if you’re in a family you never know when something may happen to your partner (like what is happening with you and I right now.)

Just hang in there; I’m sure we’ll both find something amazing soon!  I honestly think that this is the time to be creative and entrepreneurial.  When you’ve got nothing to lose it’s a lot easier to try things that you’ve been thinking about.  Especially if you’ve got a supportive partner that will help you out through thick and thin.

Jay Pineda's picture

a great post indeed

After college most(if not all) of us assumes that our problems are already over. But apparently we are wrong. Many remains jobless a few months after graduation. Seems like finding a job is really difficult nowadays and to be able to get a job, one should be really persistent and competitive. With thousands of graduates produced every year,  The competition is really tough.

I am very glad you came up with a blogpost like this which gives suggestions on how we can utilize our time while we are crossing our fingers and waiting for a call from the employers. This is actually a great time for yourself, because we all know that once you get hired, you have already some time for yourself for salary. Your suggestions are really a great way to kill time, and I am sure this will also cut down the nervousness we feel whenever we are waiting for a response from an employer. I would also like to add another suggestion to the list, which is attending seminars or certificate courses which may make you more competitive in your chosen field. By having this, I believe that you will get higher chances of getting hired the next time you send out job applications. This does not only make you stand out among all the applicants, but also makes you learn more.

newkid on the block's picture

Keep the hope alive!

A very great post indeed! The times are so tough that it makes everyone a bit down when it comes to Jobs!

What I did was and still try doing to cope up is (I do have a job now but I am still looking for my dream job):

1. When I feel bad, I talk to my spouse (in a nice way – not complaining or nagging) who is always ready to lift my spirit up and tell me how good I am and then we lightheartedly flirt with each other ending up with laughter and more positive attitude. If one does not have a spouse/partner, a good friend to joke and laugh will also help a lot!

2. I go through the town bulletin regularly, and offer to do voluntary work. It definitely makes one feel great to be helpful to others and it is a good way of networking too. Who knows, that somebody that you helped may know someone who knows someone that can help you in future to get your dream job.

3. I am in research field, so when I moved to a new city to be with my husband and needed job, I wrote to all the labs and asked them whether I can come and present my work when they have some time. I did visit few labs and gave a talk and had discussion about possible projects. Like that, I felt good to be in touch with the research work and community, while the possible employers got to see my skills and enthusiasm and will definitely remember me when the opportunity arises.

4. Also, I kept on reading on my subject (research papers, articles and the latest discoveries etc) to keep myself updated on what's going on in my field.

5. As for hobbies, I did things that I loved very much and that relaxes me a lot. I started a small vegetable garden and it was fun. And it was also fun to cook creative gourmet food (it need not be expensive and hard to make) and surprise my husband every evening when he came home from his hard day of work.

6. At times when nothing worked, the only thing that kept me going is my dreams. I have dreams and goals for my future carrier wise and also as a couple we have mutual goals – like the dream house that we want to build. When I think of those things, the energy surges back into me and I say to myself “Bring it on! I am ready to fight to fulfill my dreams and reach my goals!”

7. I do also everyday say 'thanks' to God for what I have in life. Esp. with all the natural disasters over the last two years and people losing everything that they have in life, I look at myself and find myself grateful for the life I have so far!

I wish every one the best.... Everything will be okay sooner or later! As my husband always says: Keep the hope alive!

kevspow's picture

I just started my own business when I couldn't find a job

I saw an ad that said "Make More Than Your Professors Do"

It all went from there.  I had always wanted to start my own business, so I jumped right in.

I am happy I did this because I think i am earning much more than I would have if I went on my career path.


rachelsholiday's picture

I am working as a writer, but

I am working as a writer, but it’s unfortunately not paying the bills quite yet L.  I think that’s awesome that you were able to start your own business successfully! 

As I said, it’s definitely important to do what you’re passionate about.  You may not get rich off of it but you will definitely be happy.  It’s certainly better to be happy and poor, rather than rich and miserable.   That said, your bills also need to get paid and starting your own business can be really time consuming.  So, if you find something that requires a small up-front investment and gives you enough freedom to do your classes then that’s awesome.  But if not, you may need to try and work part time or something while your business grows. If you don’t have time for your classes, you may have to hold back.

Also, “make more than your professors”?  Horrible though it may seem, they’re certainly not lying in the lap of luxury most of the time.  That is, unless they have their own side venture.

Again, congratulations on successfully starting your own business.  I know it takes a lot of work and I’m pleased that it’s working out for you.  I sincerely wish you luck in all your endeavors.

java602's picture

It has always been difficult

It has always been difficult for a fresh college graduate to find a job shortly after he or she leaves college behind, and due to the unfortunate downturn in the economy, it is more difficult than ever.  However, this obstacle does not provide a decent excuse for one to just sit around on his or her couch all day watching sitcom television and eating junk food.  Many recent college graduates that cannot find employment turn to internships, which is a wonderful idea.  Internships allow you to “use your time wisely” and build up your resume, which will make you more qualified and appear more attractive to employers which will give someone a huge advantage when applying for jobs in the future.  Some available internships may even come paired with attractive wages.  A friend of mine was hired as a summer intern at a well-know company and was paid twelve dollars an hour for it.  But, even an unpaid internship is valuable because the main purpose of participating in and working as an intern to gain the experience from it.  So, my suggestion is if you are unable to find legitimate employment, take the opportunity to gain experience working as an intern. 

Ashlynn Hall's picture


The reason that I had originally begun posting on the forums and the blogs of this site were because I needed money to pay my credit card and phone bills. I began to freelance through,  taking up various different products to get some extra cash. That helped me to cope until I was able to find a real job and make some decent cash. I'm still quite fond of freelancing, and I'm sure I'll do a lot more of it with my graphic design degree. There are so many easy ways to make money on the jnternet :)

simona-ioana's picture

I was in that position so

I was in that position so many times I stopped keeping track. Everybody told me I did not have any experience, that my language skills were all I had. Nobody had a job for me. I started by doing volunteer work just to feel useful. After three summers of volunteering, I got a job as an assistant. The problem was my boss was old and grumpy and had a thing for young girls so I ended up signing my resignation letter after one month.
After several months and thousands of applications I found a job where I had to go on the field, knock on every single door and ask the owners questions about certain products. Guess what? They failed to pay me, so II basically worked for free. After that I found a job at an IT company, where the bosses told me that if I don’t get them 50 contracts in the next week I would be fired. It was not easy for me to sign resignations or to go to my mom for help every time, but I knew that first of all I would have to finish colleague and after that I would surely have a job. And so it was. Now I am a teacher and I enjoy it.