About Job Search and Quicksand

Quicksand: A bed of loose sand mixed with water forming a soft shifting mass that yields easily to pressure and tends to engulf any object resting on its surface. (www.thefreedictionary.com)

Job Search: The act of looking for employment, due to unemployment or discontent with a current position. The immediate goal of job seeking is usually to obtain a job interview with an employer which may lead to getting hired. (http://en.wikipedia.org)

I had this image of a poor college senior being actively sucked down into quicksand...ahem, the job search process. And I tried to think of the ways that the Career Center could save him. But as I read about how quicksand actually works...(You probably won't be shocked to learn that the movie depictions of people getting sucked into quicksand, as if it's alive, aren't accurate.) and that it's generally only a few feet deep...a new image formed, and I want to share with you how to both escape quicksand AND navigate the job search: 

1. Don't fret or panic. Stay calm.
  • Much like you can float on water, you can float on quicksand. 
  • And similarly, if you're running around without a plan for your job search, it will feel like you're drowning. Stop. Float. Develop a plan.
2. Make slow diligent movements.
  • Thrashing about with your arms and legs might dig you down further into the quicksand, and it's heavy (think wet concrete) so you might not be able to float. Make slow movements to get your body parallel to the ground.
  • Sadly, students think they are conducting a job search when they develop one resume and one cover letter and then paste it onto every job search engine they can find. (This act is as productive as thrashing about in quicksand.) Your job search must be diligent. Purposeful. Each resume and each cover letter must be tailored to a particular job. You want to rise to the top of the pile of applicants, not be buried underneath all of the other generic applicants. 
3. Increase your surface area.
  • Lean over on your back and spread your arms and legs wide to increase your surface area and better enable yourself to combat the vacuum effect that can be created in quicksand.
  • In your job search, spread yourself wide via your network. Networking is the best way to find a job. If you hold your career goals close, you are shaped like a missile, easily sinking into the sand...alone. Reaching out to parents, friends' parents, professors, former and current supervisors, advisors, mentors, etc. allows the load to be lightened and you are no longer sinking...you're floating...and you are heading to safe ground...a full-time job.
So...be careful of quicksand. Avoid it. But you can't avoid the job search. Face it. Just use these strategies to get started. For more tips on how to navigate the job search, check out these Tip Sheets from the Auburn University Career Center. 

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