How to Stay Up When Your Job Search Has You Feeling Down

How to Stay Up When Your Job Search Has You Feeling Down

There are currently more Americans who have been unemployed for more than 6 months than any other time in U.S. history (6.1 million according to the latest figures). And while we hear reports that things are looking up for job seekers, we also have leading economists predicting that the job market may not improve much until 2012.

For those who have find themselves out of work, staying positive and proactive in their job hunt can be a lot easier said than done. Rejection after rejection can take a toll on self-confidence, and with that, the motivation needed to keep trying to find work.  But does being unemployed have to mean being miserable? Of course not.

Last week, I appeared on Let’s Talk Live here in D.C. to share some thoughts on how to stay positive when looking for work.

If you’re out of work (or fear you may be soon), here are six strategies that will help you differentiate yourself from other job seekers, build your resume outside the workplace and land work despite the odds.

  1. SPREAD THE WORD. The more people who know you are looking for a new job, the more people who can help you land one. Most people really do want to help but they need to know how they can help. Never underestimate the power of social networks when it comes to building your career, growing your business or finding work. Nothing beats a word of mouth referral or recommendation.
  2. STAY UPBEAT. Let’s face it, being out of work can be a joyless experience, but there is nothing to be gained by spending your time getting down on yourself or sharing your story of victimhood with anyone who cares to listen. Potential employers are far more attracted to confident and positive people who have made the most of their extra time out of work than those who have succumbed to self-doubt, disillusionment and the daily TV soaps. Of course getting out the door and being cheerful isn’t always easy, but if you do your best to stay in positive conversations, focus on what you can do versus what you can’t and refuse to get stuck in complaining, then you will find it far easier stay up even when things are getting you down.
  3. TIGHTEN YOUR BELT. When you suddenly become unemployed you may need to adjust your budget and stretch whatever severance you received as much as you can. If you qualify for unemployment benefits, register for them. You can always cancel them if you find work before they kick in. Putting first things first could mean that you have to cancel the cable, cook in more often and rent a DVD rather than head to the movies. Remember this is not forever but without your former income those small luxuries may prevent you from paying the bigger bills like the rent or the mortgage. Don’t let your pride get in the way of being smart and responsible with your money.
  4. BE OPEN TO OPPORTUNITIES. There is always opportunity in adversity. Always. But those who find the opportunity will be those who are out there looking for it, persevering in the face of rejections and doing the preparation they need to do so that when opportunity arises, they are ready to seize it! Sometimes opportunity can come in disguise, like in a job offer for a position that you are overqualified for or pays less than what you earned before. Again, don’t let your pride trip you up from something that could lead to bigger and better things and pay the bills in the interim!
  5. STAY HEALTHY! (Or if you aren’t healthy now, focus on improving it!) Being out of work heightens stress and being stressed lowers the immune system. So while there is never a good time to be sick, when you are in the job market (and your health insurance premium has increased because of that), it is a really bad time to get sick. So make your health and well-being – body, mind and spirit – a top priority. Take time every day to do something that lifts your spirit, that strengthens your body and that keeps your mind sharp. And yes sure, sometimes health issues can be beyond our control, but eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising our bodies are not.
  6. GET ORGANIZED. Make looking for a job your new job. Schedule time every day to do something that moves you forward toward that goal, whether directly (by sending off an application, polishing your resume or making follow up phone calls) or indirectly by gaining skills that will make you a more attractive candidate. If there’s one thing that most people in full-time jobs complain about, it’s not having enough time to do everything else they want to do outside the office. Now that you have time on your hands, use it wisely! Keep a written log of jobs you’ve applied for and leads you need to follow up on. At the beginning of every week write down what you want to accomplish each day that week and then each day prioritize the tasks to ensure they get done. In short, get organized and make the most of each and every day!

Remember, nothing lasts forever and eventually this job market will turn around. In the meantime, staying positive and active will ensure that you are in the best position — both professionally and psychologically — to land your next job.

Question: What strategies have you used to stay positive during your job search? Looking back at other tough times you’ve managed, what lessons from then can you apply now to your job search?