Looking for a job can be draining. I have been there. As a queer woman who has gone through two major job searches, I was additionally concerned about my LGBTQIA+ identity throughout the process. As LGBTQIA+ people, we have to take additional steps to determine whether or not an organization will affirm our identity, and that can be exhausting.
I want to help you prevent burnout and maintain resilience throughout your job search, so I have put together a list of self-care strategies you can utilize. These include creating a routine, dedicating time to rest, and setting boundaries with friends and family.
1. Dedicate a physical space to your job search. Do not hunt for jobs from spaces you typically utilize to rest, such as your bed. Utilize a desk, the kitchen table, a local café, or another space where you can be productive.
2. Create a routine or schedule. Decide which days of the week you want to hunt for jobs. I don’t recommend spending greater than 5 days per week. Commit to short blocks of time, maybe 2-3 hours, then take breaks. Prioritizing rest and taking breaks can prevent burnout.
3. Take a break from screens once a week. If you are constantly surrounded by open tabs, emails, and notifications related to your job search, your nervous system will become overwhelmed. If you have downloaded apps to your phone such as LinkedIn, I recommend turning off notifications. Set aside a block of time once per week where you close your laptop, turn off your phone, and do something you enjoy that doesn’t involve a screen.
4. Regulate your nervous system. Constantly searching for a job can heighten your anxiety and overwhelm your nervous system. The most immediate way to regulate your nervous system is to drink water. Additionally, there are plenty of exercises that can help you bring your body down to a regulated state. Two helpful practices are Bee’s Breath and Constructed Rest.
5. Prioritize doing activities you enjoy. You may feel like every minute of your day should be dedicated to your job hunt, but that will exhaust you and negatively impact your performance when writing cover letters, reaching out to your network, and interviewing. Remember that you are a human being who deserves to feel joy. Make a list of things that bring you joy, whether it is connecting with a friend, watching your favorite show, or cooking a meal you love, then refer back to the list once a week.
6. Journal. Journaling can be a helpful tool to track your progress throughout the job search. Set simple and actionable goals, and note when you have achieved them. Journaling can also provide a space to record your frustrations.
7. Develop affirmations. Being unemployed or seeking a job can bring up insecurities and feelings of doubting our self worth. This is extremely common, and in order to remain resilient throughout the process, we must maintain a grounded mindset. Write down some mantras or affirmations that energize and uplift you when you are feeling discouraged. You may choose to use a journal, add sticky notes to your bathroom mirror, or keep a note in your phone.
8. Set a non-work personal goal. Since a job search can become frustrating, doing this can help give you a sense of accomplishment and remind you that you are capable. You might choose to read a book, learn a piece of music, or research a topic you are interested in. Make sure the goal is achievable and not too lofty.
9. Find part-time work or learning opportunities. Sign up for a webinar, training, or online course. Read material online related to your chosen career path. This will help you stay or become articulate in relevant topics. Take on a part-time job as a dog-walker, or volunteer at the local food pantry. Remaining active will stimulate you and also impress potential employers.
10. Be prepared to talk about yourself. I recommend writing a brief bio that you can refer back to this when writing a cover letter or preparing talking points for an interview. Another way to think about this is like an elevator speech. How would you describe yourself to someone if you had a limited amount of time with them?
You may have experienced a gap in employment at some point. Many LGBTQIA+ folks I have worked with took time off from school or their career to focus on their mental health or transition. It can be daunting to address this with potential employers. Knowing what you are going to say ahead of time can help.
11. Lastly, set boundaries with family and friends. Dealing with expectations and input from others can be extremely challenging. They may not understand why you have chosen a certain career path. They may discourage you from discussing your LGBTQIA+ identity. Remember that you alone have full autonomy over your career and your identity. You are allowed to decline a phone call, change the subject, and keep certain details of your job search private as you see necessary for your mental health.