5 Ways to Stay Motivated During a Long (& Grueling) Job Search
When it comes to things that are exhausting, I put job searching right up there with cleaning out the basement and arguing with toddlers. It can feel like you're trying really, really hard, and still getting absolutely nowhere.
Looking for a new job—especially during the holiday season—may seem particularly unpleasant, and there's a lot of conflicting information about whether it's worth the effort when HR specialists and hiring managers are busy finalizing year-end reports and organizing virtual Secret Santas.
Some say don't bother sending out your resume in December, no one is hiring. Others argue that departments have use-it-or-lose-it money left in annual budgets and quotas to fill, so go for it.
My husband, who was laid off three times within a seven-year period, is no stranger to job hunting. Interestingly, he was offered two of his last three full-time positions (including the one he's currently in) between Thanksgiving and New Year's. So we're firm believers in the notion that there's never a wrong time to look for a new role.
With that said, if you've been at it a while and feel like you're beating your head against a wall, I get it. Staying motivated as rejections roll in, applications go ignored, and recruiters ghost you is never easy. It can make you want to give up entirely.
Every aspect of job searching can seem like a full-time job in itself. From creating eye-catching resumes and compelling cover letters to updating your LinkedIn profile and networking with former colleagues (and random strangers your mom sends your way because she met them on a Kohl's checkout line and they seemed "nice"), the whole process may make you want to curl up with a plate of whichever appetizers you find in the recesses of your freezer and contemplate just going off the grid for the next decade or two.
Rather than give up, Augustine recommends creating a plan that breaks down your search into smaller goals you can work toward on a weekly basis.
When you simplify your job-search strategy and focus on completing more manageable tasks, you’re less likely to become overwhelmed by the process, she notes.
2. Shake things up
If you've spent the last few weeks (or months) scrolling through Indeed or LinkedIn, looking at the same postings and watching the number of applicants climb higher than the Dow Jones Industrial Average, you may find yourself muttering, "F*&! this!"
Augustine suggests it may be time to try some new tactics. For example, check out apps like Clubhouse or Upstream or sites like 10times to attend in-person or virtual events and meet new people in your field.
Or, look into skill-based volunteering opportunities with Catchafire to boost your resume, sharpen your skills, and expand your professional network.
3. Join forces
The job hunt can be a lonely, isolating journey, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider partnering with a fellow job seeker who's targeting work in a similar field, Augustine suggests.
Set up weekly check-ins and share resources to keep your job search on track, and each other motivated. By combining your efforts and assets, your search is sure to get the boost it needs, Augustine says.
If nothing else, at least you can commiserate with someone who knows exactly what you're facing.
4. Celebrate small victories
Don’t wait until you’ve signed an offer letter to celebrate your wins. Instead, treat yourself for achieving various milestones throughout your job-search journey, such as optimizing your resume for the applicant tracking systems (ATS), applying for a certain number of jobs in a given week, or setting up an interview with a valuable contact.
These rewards don’t have to be big or expensive. Augustine says. Consider something as simple as indulging in a decadent dessert, treating yourself to a round of golf, or grabbing a celebratory drink with a good friend.
I'd like to recommend Whole Foods apple fritters—$4.99 for four. (Just try not to consume them all within a 24-hour window like I do.)
5. Embrace positivity
A taxing job search can sometimes lead to negative, self-sabotaging thoughts, notes Augustine.
"Keep the negativity at bay by reminding yourself of your true value with affirmations like 'I’m the same smart and capable professional I was before this job search began' or 'I know everything will work out for me.' Regularly repeating positive affirmations like these can reduce your stress levels and improve your health," Augustine suggests.
This definitely seems more beneficial than listening to that nagging voice I often heard whispering in the back of my head, repeating, "I'm a loser. I'll never work again!"
If you're job hunting, I wish you all the best. If you're interested in hearing more about the grueling odyssey my husband and I embarked upon when we lost our jobs simultaneously, consider giving my memoir Sad Sacked a listen. Thank you to everyone who has already downloaded it and reviewed it! (Except the person who wrote, "Sorry I listened to the end.")
Until next time, happy holidays!