Staying motivated is important
Job seekers often speak of multiple highs and lows as their journey progresses. This is normal. It is important to understand not only the emotional challenges but also the important opportunities this ‘transition’ period affords. Being open to seeking help and support from family, friends, counselors, and as necessary, faith and medical professionals is important.
Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do if you are having trouble staying positive in a job search, which will not only improve your mood while you search but very probably shorten your search. Many of these practices dovetail with what career coaches already recommend to succeed in your job search.
If you are really struggling with depression during your job search, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help! You are not alone. Looking for a job is tough and can be demoralizing, and everyone needs help sometimes.
Below are some suggestions to help. The first five suggestions related to staying positive in a job search are inspired by Laurie Santos, a professor at Yale who hosts a free course called The Science of Well Being. Her advice about how to be happier in life has additional resonance for job seekers.
One very strong finding from the happiness research is that happier people are more social. There are implications here for job seekers.
Activate your network for greatly increased chances of success
You may have heard that you need “connections” to find a job. You benefit greatly from a broad network of people who can provide some type of support. That could be interview tips, inside knowledge about a hidden job at their company, or an actual referral for a job which makes you much more likely to land an interview.
There is even research that shows that your weak connections (i.e., people you don’t actually know, but they know someone your know) might be the most effective part of your network.
Use your network to stay connected and for moral support
If you don’t know others who are trying to stay positive during a long job search, you may feel like you are the only person who is having such a tough go of it. It’s human nature to retreat when we are feeling blue, but the sad irony is that when we most need the support is when we are least likely to seek it out.
The new landscape of social distancing and remote work have made it even harder to connect with others. But there are a few things you can try to make those networking and social connections:
Get help and stay connected using social networks
Rather than comparing yourself to others who seem more successful, you can harness one positive aspect of social media – connectivity. There are people out there who want to support you and lift you up.
Job seeker groups on Facebook (go to Groups and search “Job Search” or other relevant terms) and Reddit (search for subreddits which are groups with similar interests who are generous with their time to answer questions) can be a good source of referrals, advice, and support.
LinkedIn is filled with people who are in the same boat as you, and also with people who can help you. To get the most out of LinkedIn, be proactive: Follow people, companies, and groups that really resonate with you.
LinkedIn also offers other groups you may find helpful: LinkedIn Groups for Job Searchers.
And don't forget to join our private LinkedIn group Lake Grove Job Seekers Connect Group. It's just for people in our organization.
Research shows that making a habit of writing down three to five things every day that you are grateful for can improve your happiness in a little as two weeks.
You may want to add to your list aspects of your professional life that you are grateful for. Have there been people in your network who have stepped up for you? Did you interact with one recruiter who treated you with respect like a valuable human being, even if you didn’t get the job? Are you currently employed, even if it’s a job you don’t love?
Feel the feelings, then let them go
You may be aware of mindfulness as a recommended practice for improved happiness and better mental health. One way to practice mindfulness is to set aside a specific time every day to practice meditation, which can be as simple as being in a quiet place, breathing in and out slowly, and paying attention to your breath and the thoughts that come and go. The goal is not to pretend that you aren’t experiencing anxiety and frustration in your search. Rather, the goal is to let those thoughts and feelings flow through you. Recognize them and let them go (as much as possible).
Rest and move
This is a two-part recommendation. First, make sure you get enough sleep. Second, during your waking hours, be sure to do something active (which will – bonus! – help you sleep better). Both are proven mood-boosters.
While deep into a job search, it is easy to just focus on yourself and your own challenges. However, there are SO many other people who are going through the same thing. Think of our Monday meetings - all those job seekers need help too! Boost those endorphins and help a fellow job seeker (or someone else) out.
Here is a an article from LinkedIn about how to help other job seekers during your job search.
This next recommendation stems from Positive Psychology, which encourages us to focus on all the strengths we have to offer, not on perceived deficits.
Focus on your strengths
Staying positive in a job search is tough, especially if you lose sight of your strengths.
It’s so easy to lose confidence while searching for a job, and that can spiral: the less confidence you have, the less able you will be to convince hiring managers that you are the best choice to fill their open job. One way you can combat this is to take an assessment that will help you to identify your strengths and give you the language to talk about them to recruiters and hiring managers.
Two popular strengths assessments may help. The Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment focuses on your talents (a combination of skills and personal strengths) as they relate to the workplace. It’s widely used in organizations and knowing your Clifton Strengths may be helpful if you are interviewing with a company that uses the assessment in organizational development. The VIA Character Strengths Assessment is another popular assessment that focuses on character strengths that apply more holistically. Each is available to do on your own, with various levels of reports available for a small fee.
Finally, practical changes can help to motivate you as well.
Create structure for yourself
Set up a regular schedule for your job search, perhaps applications in the morning and networking efforts in the afternoon.
Pencil in time for all the other things that are important to you such as socializing, family, exercise, hobbies, and spiritual practices.
Try to get out of the house regularly. A job search can be very isolating, and having a regular coffee date with a friend or time at the gym can help.
Get a new haircut or outfit to boost your mood AND help with your job search. If your budget is tight, beauty schools offer deeply discounted haircuts, and there are many consignment stores and thrift stores that have great bargains.
Schedule a quick getaway to someplace new (even for the day); it can be the jolt you need to get re-energized.
Take advantage of your flexibility if you are not currently working: go to movie matinee or have a long lunch with a friend.
Find additional content on our website
Use the categories or enter a search term to find more information on motivation.
Also check out the Extras page for more helpful information:
- Impact of Attitude and Beliefs
- Strategies to Help You Succeed
- Dealing with Age Bias