A job search takes time, effort, and patience.
Until you land the job you want, it often includes some measure of disappointment. Maintaining a positive attitude throughout the process isn’t always easy, but is helpful. Here are seven ideas to help build confidence and stay positive during the job search.
1. Stick to a Schedule
Setting a schedule is important whether you recently lost your job, you’ve just finished school and are searching for a position, or are currently employed but looking for your next opportunity. You may feel like you have no motivation to get up early, get dressed, or even get to bed at a decent time. It is important to discipline yourself to set your alarm for a reasonable hour, put on real clothes that trick your brain into thinking it’s time to get to business (no pajamas or sweats allowed!), and avoid the distractions of TV or social media.
If you are currently employed, it may be harder to stick to a schedule. You may need to get creative about when you can conduct your job search. Setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier than normal can provide you with an opportunity to follow-up with emails, send resumes, or search job openings. Scheduling time on your calendar after work is also helpful; it sets the expectation that your search will be active instead of passive.
2. Develop an Action Plan
As you set your schedule, decide on an appropriate start and stop time for the day and
make a list of the activities you need to complete during the day. Your daily list can include goals such as, “follow-up with companies I applied to last week,” “send resume to 3 new companies,” or “read 3 industry-related articles.” Having a to-do list that you stick to each day will help you feel like you are making progress and stay motivated to continue the search.
Establishing a routine with goals and priorities will help you stay focused. You can cross off each to-do item with a feeling of accomplishment. It’s just one way of providing a visual representation of how you are working toward your end goal—that new position!
3. Stay Up-to-Date in Your Industry
It’s useful to have a company-, industry-, or position-specific target for your job search. This will make it easier to customize your resume and for people in your network to offer the best assistance.
If you are not sure what kind of company, industry, or position you want, try setting up some informational interviews. This will help you narrow your focus. In addition, you can follow industry experts on social media, subscribe to online trade journals, or consider taking an online course to continue to grow your skills.
Any steps you take to stay informed and build a working knowledge of your industry will show that you are a motivated job candidate. What’s more, your newfound industry knowledge will give you confidence to make a winning impression in the interview.
It’s helpful to use several search strategies at once. Networking is a valid way to grow your network, be seen and known in your industry, and enlist advocates that may go to bat for you when they hear of opportunities that fit your niche. Networking can be done by attending conferences, industry events, and training sessions. There is also a networking component for those that conduct informational interviews.
You can also network online through forums and discussion boards, which are full of tailored information around specific topics and industries. Take the time to sift through the various topics to find some that pique your interest, and contribute your own thoughts while discussing other’s in order to be seen as a valid participant in your industry. In addition, have regular meetings with a mentor or friend in your industry who can help you make further connections.
In-person networking will also help get you out of the house (or out from behind your desk). It’s a way to keep your motivation alive by sharing experiences or getting a bit of inspiration from people in the field. Whether you’re connecting with a contact for a cup of coffee or volunteering for a good cause, networking allows you to broaden your connections and provides a fun outlet while on the job hunt.
5. Tailor Your Resume and Prepare Custom Interview Answers
Applying for jobs shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter experience. Tailor each cover letter and resume or CV to the specific position to showcase your fit for the job. Instead of practicing one general set of accomplishment stories and interview answers, prepare answers customized to the organization and position. Take the time to think about which set of skills and knowledge you have that will allow you to help the organization grow while you are in this role.
Have you sent a handful of great resumes out only to get rejection letters? Turn them into a positive by reaching back out to ask for feedback about the information you submitted. You might find out that a particular skill was “hidden” in all the other great information you provided. Don’t be afraid to ask the hiring manager for their thoughts on ways to improve your candidacy. They may offer some great words of wisdom for next time.
Exercise is a great motivator and builds positivity by increasing endorphins. During the job search period, you might find yourself spending a lot of time at your computer searching job boards, sending emails, etc. Be sure to schedule breaks and walk away from your screen during different times of the day.
Start by slipping on your workout shoes and going for a walk or a jog to boost your energy. According to the Mayo Clinic, the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help reduce anxiety and improve mood.
If you’re conducting your job search while in a current position, you may find it hard to juggle your workload, job search, and exercise. Think about incorporating walking meetings into your work day. A quick jaunt on your lunch break or even a few crunches and jumping jacks on breaks can help relieve stress during this busy time.
7. Ask for Help if You Get Discouraged
There are plenty of others who are going through the same career search stage of life or have recently in the past. Explore the availability of job search clubs in your community. Connect with someone who has been in a similar situation as you—they might be able to offer helpful advice or just lend a listening ear. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help.
The job search can be a discouraging time. You very well could receive a lot of “no’s” before you get your desired “yes.” Stay positive by focusing on other highlights of your life if you get discouraged during this process. Surround yourself with friends and family who lift you up. Choose to watch TV programs or news channels that offer feel-good stories rather than negative content. Take breaks when you need them.
Keeping a positive attitude during your job search will ultimately lead to a better experience and great results.
The Capella Career Center offers networking tips, job search tools, career counseling, and more. Its mission is to empower students and alumni to proactively manage their careers and make meaningful, and effective, career decisions.