I am a big proponent of venting during your job search process. Venting is when you talk with someone trusted about all the obstacles, problems, fears, anxieties, anger, and frustration you feel and encounter every day and week. Venting is vital when you are under pressure – and a job search is definitely pressure-filled. Pressures are varied:

  • Maybe you are worried about being able to pay your bills, keep your home, care for your children, replace worn shoes.
  • Or maybe you’re tired of the cycle of networking – seeing so many people yet no one has a job for you.
  • And maybe you simply are out of hope for the moment.

I believe venting is very different than complaining. To me, complaining is blaming someone or something else for my situation. Venting is simply acknowledging that a job search is difficult work, stuff happens, I don’t always like it, and I need to get it out of my head and body in order to move on.

Think about a pressure cooker: when a pressure cooker vents, it doesn’t explode. Similarly, people in stressful situations need to vent in order to stay healthy.

There are many ways to vent the unpleasantness: talking, crying, whacking your pillows with a plastic bat, or writing. Seek out and use whatever mechanism is most jelpful and least harmful to you.

I observe that it is most helpful to people to vent to a sympathetic person who listens and doesn’t try to fix it. When I listen, I do a lot of validation: “that does sound awful!” and “I am so sorry you are going through this.” My approach stems from having gone through many down and depressed times in job searches; it never helped to have someone try to “fix me.” What helped most was someone being kind when I was crying from frustration or hurt. Recent studies actually do show that crying with a sympathetic person is the most healing of all tears.

Usually the person talks him or herself out of the down state of mind; I rarely need to encourage them to focus on the positive. I can always tell that someone has vented sufficiently when they start looking at the bright side of things and begin to notice positive things.

@valueintowords, a job search coach on Twitter put it this way: “‘venting’ helps you to emerge from a cloud of negativity and regain optimism; this is important for job-search success.

She’s right, as potential employers expect applicants and interviewees to be positive, forward-thinking, enthusiastic, and energetic. I’ve always thought it the supreme irony that we are expected to present our best self when we feel worst about our abilities. I think: “I’m unhappy where I work or I got fired or laid off – and you expect me to be up, up, up?” Well, yes, yes they do.

Venting is the best way I know to move through and past fear and depression into hopefulness and excitement about the future. So find someone who can listen to you sympathetically and objectively.

CAVEAT: Significant others rarely can play this role simply because they are so worried about you and have a vested interest in you being fully functional. Instead of putting further pressure on your SO, find a job or career coach who has worked with lots of people. S/he often is the best person to understand and help you process your venting.