It’s Okay to Take a Break

In the months leading up to October, I was moving at full throttle. I attended job fairs. I executed some pretty fast and complex projects. I interviewed with all of my energy. I got to the final round of a job where their work culture made it a dream. I prepped. I did my absolute best. I knocked out their power a couple of times.

It wasn’t enough.

I didn’t get the job even after they called me again for ‘just one more’ which at that point had been about a half-dozen interviews. I was too much of a Full Stack Engineer, even though I was interviewing for a Full Stack Position.

That’s fine. If I had gotten the job, I would have had to make a lot of concessions in my life to accommodate that, including working in a notoriously unsafe neighborhood and extending an already long commute which means who knows when I would see my kids.

Logically speaking, I knew that. That only softened the blow that still managed to take the wind out of my sails. I had found a place with a staff I enjoyed in an environment where I could grow. It made what I wanted real then it vanished.

Worse was the timing. This happened mid-October. That meant we were coming up to the EOY, End of Year. Companies in this industry are going through their year’s production and buried under paperwork trying to close things up. Their staffing budget has been spent. They’re still finalizing the budget for next year. Jobs just dry up.

I could have fought more, but my energy was gone. No one I applied for in November would have me at my best. And if I don’t have the energy to convince you that I applied to your company on purpose? You’re not going to call me back, and I’m just going to get more depressed.

So it is okay to take a break. If you know for a fact nothing’s coming, and you can survive the amount of time it’s going to take you to regroup, do it.

When you take a blow like this, shut down for a week. Answer incoming e-mails, certainly, but don’t send out new applications. Don’t push your learning. Bury yourself in your job or whatever it takes to fill up your day. Do what you need to in order to avoid burnout.

And, unless you run into the EOY slump, don’t take more than a couple weeks before getting out there. Remember, you’re still in the race, you just took your foot off the gas. You can trust your competition to have caught up. Personally, I waited until January. It was too long, and I knew it. But I wasn’t making great decisions at the time. Besides, I needed to restrategize. Obviously, my parameters weren’t working, and I needed to find out why.

Take a break. Remember who you are and why you do what you do. Then get back out there.

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