If you’ve been job searching, tweaking resumes, and drafting cover letters for more than, say, 24 hours, you know how mentally exhausting the process can be. With so many people competing for the same handful of jobs, it’s no wonder job seekers often find themselves down and out.
The important thing to remember is that whether you’ve been at your search for days, months, or years, you have to stay positive. But how?
In a recent conversation that I had with Margie Clayman during #blogchat, she gave me the idea that perhaps I could take my own job search and write about it in a way that would help others. Then, in an act of total serendipity, My Footpath Tweeted out a link to a November, 2010, blog post, “Positively Unemployed.” I read it with great interest — it’s full of wonderful tips — and that post, coupled with Margie’s suggestion, started the inspiration wheels a’turnin’. Why not share some of the methods I’ve used to survive my job search?
Different people cope in different ways, and I’m eager to see what others would add to this list. But for you, fellow job-seeker, I present my favorite methods of staying positive during unemployment.
Try to see the silver lining. What purpose can you serve?
When, at 25 years of age, I found myself unloading a moving truck full of all of my worldly possessions into my parents’ garage and taking up residency in the bedroom I hadn’t really lived in since high school, I was a little bitter. So I tried to think of the positives. For example, now I got to see my family more often, as well as the few friends I still had in town. I got to meet my two youngest cousins right after they were born. Not only was I able to start totally spoiling my childhood friend’s four year old son, but I was also able to be in town when her second son was born.
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And what’s more, when my father got sick, I was around to help by sitting at the hospital with him, driving him to and from doctor’s appointments, and helping him out at home. I’ve come to believe that, ultimately, this was the reason I needed to be home for a while.
Read a book.
I’ve always loved reading for its escapist nature, and as any job-seeker can confirm, there are many times when you need an escape. Fiction books are great ways to get outside of your own world for a while (some of my favorites include the Harry Potter series, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, and The Great Gatsby).
But don’t count nonfiction books out, either. I’ve found that some of the best motivation I have for my career search comes from reading career books. You may think to yourself that you’re doing all you can, but information is constantly evolving. Practices change. There are books out there that will help you with cover letters, resumes, and interview tips. They’ll tell you creative ways to get yourself noticed in a sea of applicants. Reading this kind of information always sparks a new hope in me and motivates me to re-double my efforts and try a new approach.
Get involved online.
I was an active social media user before my unemployment, but I’ve started using it in a whole new way. Instead of just socializing with people I already know, I’ve branched out and use tools like Twitter and Google+ to network, meet new people, and share ideas. It’s easy to sometimes feel like you’re the only person out there struggling to find work, especially if everyone around you is employed. You aren’t alone, though, and social networking makes it easy for you to connect with others who share your experience. It has the double bonus of allowing you to connect with companies and employers that might lead to jobs.
Tip: Remember to consider your personal branding efforts online. What you post to these sites could be seen by potential employers, so keep it professional!
Figure out what you want to be when you grow up and go for it.
Until I was unemployed, I never realized that there was anything else I seriously wanted to do with my life besides teach. I decided when I was three years old that I was going to be a teacher, and though I’d always loved writing, everything I did while growing up was an effort to make that teaching dream a reality.
After four years of teaching, I was faced with the reality that it could be years before I would find another teaching job. I floated for a while, applying to jobs that only sort of interested me. When I started blogging for Business2Community.com it didn’t take me long to feel like something clicked: I want to write. I want to use social media for social good. Ideally, I want to do both. I’m sitting on two English degrees, but my education will not have been in vain. I keep teaching myself more and more about the world of marketing and communications, things that, two years ago, I never would have dreamed would interest me. But they really do.
It’s okay to change your mind.
Give yourself a break.
If you’re committing yourself to a job search, it often feels like a full-time job. You spend hours working on it until you start dreaming about cover letters. Give yourself a break sometimes — an afternoon or even a whole day off. Do things for yourself that re-energize you. When you become truly down and out about the search, allow yourself some time to be upset, and then move on. You’ve been successful before, and you will be successful again.
Your turn: What are your favorite ways to stay positive during a job search?
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