Why Patience Is the Job Search Superpower You Need

Patience can help you make it through the long months it takes to find not just any job, but a good job.

Written by Cheryl Hyatt
Published on Aug. 04, 2023
Why Patience Is the Job Search Superpower You Need
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An individual must draw on many characteristics to successfully navigate a job search. You will need to tap your reserves of organization, articulation, decisiveness and perseverance. Most of all, you will need patience.

How Patience Helps a Job Search

  • It gets you through the six months or more that a job search can take.
  • It helps you prevent needless errors, such as typos in cover letters.
  • It helps you focus your efforts on finding a good job, not just any job.
  • It helps create empathy for the people on the other end of the job search. 

A job search takes time. Expect to spend about six months searching before you land the position you want, if not longer. To maintain the energy, morale and diligence you need to obtain a new position, you must have patience. 

The current state of the labor market can fuel impatience. Given the low unemployment rate, job seekers assume that a dream job will be easy to come by. Such wishful thinking feeds unrealistic expectations, disappointments and ill-advised hires. 

Dream jobs are a myth, though nightmare jobs certainly exist. Well-suited positions with quality employers on supportive teams take time to identify, apply and interview for and negotiate. There are more and less effective strategies, but no shortcuts. 

Patience provides a vital foundation for the work you must do throughout your time obtaining a new position. Patience guides a job search in five key ways.

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Patience Aligns Your Expectations

Well-meaning and gainfully employed friends and colleagues regularly assure job seekers,“You’ll find a job — it will happen just when you least expect it.”

This is the romantic-comedy approach to obtaining a new position. It banks on serendipity and circumstances rather than investing the requisite work. Patience allows you to be clear-eyed about how long a job search usually takes and plan accordingly. Patience does not feel rushed. While acknowledging a six-month search can feel overwhelming at the beginning, accurate expectations will decrease your stress over the long term. 


Patience Sustains Your Pace

Job searches can come with wild swings of activity, from days of procrastination to long hours of panicked applying. Patience allows you to settle into the season of looking with measured, strategic efforts toward your goal. 

Create a plan with specific actions and realistic numerical targets. For example, you could spend Monday mornings researching positions; Tuesday mornings connecting with colleagues in your network; Wednesday mornings revising and tailoring your resume; Thursday mornings writing cover letters; Friday mornings tying up loose ends and making a plan for the following week. Engaged time researching employers, applying to positions and connecting with your network is rewarded with rest in the midst of a stressful time. 


Patience Avoids Errors

Formatting resumes and customizing cover letters requires careful thought and attention. It can be a tedious process. You might be tempted to rush a batch out the door with sloppy results. A glaring and easily avoided error, such as a typo in your cover letter, could disqualify you from a callback. Patience slows down and does things properly. Employers will recognize and appreciate the caliber of work you put in when you spend the time to do it well. 


Patience Focuses Your Efforts

As a job search drags on, you may be tempted to think any job will do. You need patience to stay cognizant of what is important to you in a position that will be a good fit over the course of your career. While a job search may feel like an eternity, being stuck in a bad job for years feels even worse. Patience maintains perspective, enabling you to be successful.


Patience Creates People Skills

One other trait can fuel your patience: empathy. Impatience often springs up when our perspective centers on ourselves, our goals and our frustrated timeline. 

When you remember that each application must be read by an individual, often a person with a heavy workload in an understaffed department, it provides you with a more honest timeline and a more understanding approach to those you are dealing with. These people skills will not only serve you in a job search, but in the next position you obtain. 

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Recognize the Value of Patience

Patience is a virtue often eschewed in our instant-gratification society. The internet is replete with life hacks that promise failsafe ways to get superior results while skipping the work. Patience is essential for success not only in a job search, but for the projects you will work on once you obtain your next position. 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau noted that “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” A healthy appreciation for and employment of patience will make you a better professional who grows and thrives, even through a job search. 

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