“I need a vacation!” This is a cry made often in the workplace when projects mount, deadlines loom, and pressure builds. You know what? The people saying it are right on the money; as the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
You know what else? The same thing applies to a job search. The pressure is totally different, but it is pressure none the less. And very few people can operate under constant pressure without suffering a decline in productivity or in work quality.
Here’s where you have to beware advice from friends and family, though. Some would have you believe a job search is not stressful, that every day is a day off if you don’t have a job. If you’re truly working the job market, they couldn’t be farther off base. Writing, editing, and customizing resumes and cover letters takes time and effort (or they should, if you’re doing it right). So does working your contacts, or going to job fairs, or going on interviews. And getting little or no feedback is as bad or worse than getting negative feedback. Why? Because you have absolutely no clue if you are on target with your efforts and are failing in your job search due to outside factors, or if indeed there are concerns over your approach that need addressing. Does that cause pressure? Yes, you might say it does.
Meanwhile, there’s the other potentially bad advice you may get; advice that goes completely in the opposite direction. Whereas some may think being unemployed is an endless vacation, others in your immediate circle may tend to foster or enable within you a sense of entitlement – after all, you worked all those years; you deserve some down time! That sentiment, as well meaning as it is, is not going to get you out of your current situation. Worse, if you allow yourself to fall into this trap, the longer you stay in its grasp the harder it is to escape.
Still, it is indeed important to give yourself a break now and then. Granted, your individual situation does come in to play, because how much of a break you can take and what you can do with it depends heavily on your finances. But a day at the beach, or a long weekend somewhere, or even a week camping in the woods – all can work wonders in recharging your batteries and refreshing your outlook.
When you get back you can come back and hit the ground running. If you allow yourself to enjoy your time off, you’ll have renewed energy, a fresh sense of hope, and a positive attitude. Your resume edits will be crisper, your cover letters more effective, and it will show in your voice when making those phone calls to your network. Little things all, but when it comes to a job search, little things can makes a huge difference.
Of course, all of this is assuming you don’t allow yourself to linger in break mode; that you do indeed hit the ground running when you get back. Getting back at it is important; otherwise, your little break may cause a big break – to your bank account.