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How to Stay Positive During a Job Search

As the job search drags on, you might start to feel hopeless. Here's a guide on how to stay positive while you search for the right job.
How to Stay Positive During a Job Search

According to one report, 55% of Americans surveyed in August 2021 anticipate that they will look for a new job over the next 12 months. Does this statistic include you?

If you’re currently job hunting, then you might feel discouraged if it’s taking you longer than expected to find a great fit. While this process can be intense for anyone, it’s especially challenging given our current worker shortage crisis.

While there may be a historically large amount of positions open currently, that doesn’t mean that they’re a solid match for you. As you hunt for “the one”, it can be increasingly difficult to stay positive.

Today, we’re sharing a few tips to help you stay the course during this critical period, so you can come out on the other side ready to tackle your new career with confidence.

Stay Positive by Removing the Stigma

When you’re searching for jobs to no avail, those rejection letters and never-returned emails can feel like the most isolating and ostracizing thing in the world. It doesn’t help that your friends and family members are posting about their skyrocketing careers on social media every chance they get.

While you might feel alone in this journey, it helps to know that you’re anything but. The pandemic has exacerbated job uncertainties around the world, and even those who are gainfully employed have started either questioning their current position or fearing its longevity.

Although the job market has seen substantial progress over the past few months, the reality is that by early 2022, there were around three million fewer people employed in the U.S. than before the pandemic began. Despite reports that the market is rebounding, this remains a critical issue–one that’s more prevalent than many people realize.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the current unemployment rate sits at around 4% of the country’s total population. That’s around 6.5 million people.

We share this because there’s power in numbers. You might be in the middle of a job search right now, but you’re not alone. You’re trudging through one of the most confusing and challenging seasons in global history, and that’s nothing to scoff at.

Further Reading:

Job Search 101
The 50 Best Job Search Sites
Highest Paying Jobs in 2022
15 LinkedIn Profile Tips

11 High-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree

Focus on Small Wins

When you’re always anticipating something major around the bend, it can be difficult to stay positive if you turn around to find nothing. While a job offer is obviously your end goal, resist the urge to cast your spotlight solely on that goal alone.

By doing so, you could fail to see the small, everyday victories that happen on a regular basis.

For instance, you might not have landed that marketing position, but you made a great connection with the CMO that could lead to freelance work down the road.

Or, you weren’t offered the IT role you wanted, but you got the chance to sharpen your Zoom interview skills so you’re even more prepared for the next one.

To help you remember, write down these little wins as they occur. That way, you can look back on each moment with gratitude and remember how far you’ve come.

Give Social Media a Break

Remember when we said it can be discouraging to see everyone flaunting their successful jobs on social media? Mindlessly scrolling and inundating yourself with that content can wreak havoc on your mental and emotional health, making it nearly impossible to stay positive.

Especially if you’re already feeling down, the last thing you need to see is your old high school friend galivanting on an extravagant work trip. The same applies to former colleagues, current pals, and even close relatives.

While you don’t have to give it up cold turkey, consider limiting your access to sites like Facebook, Instagram, and even LinkedIn. While the latter can be an excellent tool in your job search, it can also force you to witness all of the professional accolades of your peers.

Plus, it will encourage you to congratulate them on those achievements, which can add insult to injury.

Create a Well-Balanced Routine

Be honest. How many hours a day do you spend looking at job openings online? It’s easy to let the hunt consume a majority of your day, especially if you’re at home with little else to do.

Instead of burning your retinas by staring into a screen for hours on end, create a well-balanced routine that you can comfortably maintain.

You might prefer to send resumes and fill out applications in the morning when your first cup of coffee sets in.

Or, you may want to save the work for the afternoon, when you’ve completed your to-do list and you can actually focus on the task at hand. There’s no right or wrong answer, but it’s important to be honest with yourself.

Once you’ve established your designated “working hours”, spend the rest of the day doing things you enjoy, such as cooking, exercising, or spending time with loved ones.

At first, you might feel guilty or think that you’re slacking off but remind yourself that it’s much easier to stay positive when you’re not burnt out.

Stay Positive by Brainstorming Your Future

When you’re knee-deep in work projects, it’s hard to give much thought to where you want your career to go. So often, we become consumed by the daily grind and think that’s the way it will be forever. We forget what it was like to daydream as a child when the future seemed rolled out before us and full of possibility.

When you’re on a job hunt, you get that freedom and flexibility back. You once again have time to sit by the window and craft out your ideal vision in your mind. You can sketch in notebooks and brainstorm ideas with the fervor and excitement of a grade-schooler.

What types of hobbies and pastimes do you particularly enjoy? Where do your interests lie and what sparks a genuine interest within you? If the answers don’t align with your current career path, then it might be time to consider a re-route.

While we aren’t suggesting that you abandon everything you’ve worked for to become a rockstar, it can be incredibly fulfilling to look down the road and love what you see. Look beyond this current obstacle and visualize yourself in your dream career. Then, write down the steps you’ll need to take to get there.

Grow Your Interview Skills (and Confidence!)

Does the thought of sitting down for an interview make you nervous? If so, you’re not alone. According to one study, 93% of people experience anxiety when they have to attend one.

By building your skills in this realm, you can grow more comfortable with every interview you attend. This can give you the courage and confidence to apply for more jobs. In addition to attending practice interviews, it’s also helpful to read expert advice and job interview tips, and you can find both on our website.

As you hone this skill, you’ll soon discover that it gets easier to stay positive and hold your head up a little higher, speak more clearly, and articulate your message to a prospective employer.

This delivers an excellent boost to your confidence and self-esteem, which can help you keep negative thoughts at bay. To jumpstart your interview strategy, check out our expert video lessons and AI-based virtual practice interview tools.

Avoid Toxic Positivity

We’ve all been around them: people who think that everything is rainbows and kittens, all the time. Or, they at least want you to think that’s how they feel.

While these folks undoubtedly mean well, their Pollyanna advice can sting when you’re feeling particularly pessimistic about your job prospects and struggling to stay positive. The same goes for those saccharine-sweet social media posts about shooting for the moon and landing among the stars.

Most of the time, these sentiments seek to uplift and motivate but wind up having the opposite effect. While it’s unhealthy to wallow in the despair of a fruitless job search, it’s equally detrimental to surround yourself with people who won’t allow you to feel the real emotions of this very personal journey.

If possible, find a close friend or family member who can act as an honest sounding board. Share your frustrations and your worries with them, and allow them to gently give you advice. If they’re really listening, then they’ll know that the last thing you need is for them to gloss over your feelings with a trite quip or cheerful banter.

Focus on Small Tasks

Yes, the whole reason why you’re looking for a job is to secure a new position in your chosen field. However, while you wait, there are several small tasks you can complete in the meantime. These are activities that don’t require a ton of time but can make a major impact.

Start with your resume. Is it sharp, concise, and up-to-date? Does it highlight all of your professional achievements and past work duties?

If you’re shaking your head no, then take this time to fine-tune it, along with your cover letter. Make sure both documents read well and look great, and you’re already one step closer than you were. Our free resume templates can help you get started, with formats available for a range of different positions.

Yet, don’t stop there. Your resume is important, but it shouldn’t comprise the whole of your job search strategy. It’s a conversation opener, but you’ll need much more than that to seal the deal. Specifically, you’ll also need a solid network.

If you can connect with the right people, whether through email, an online conference, or a face-to-face meeting, then you could expedite your application to the very top of the pile.

Look for opportunities to plug in and connect in your area, such as a professional meetup group or a local small business event. Your city’s chamber of commerce should keep a calendar of such events, but you can also scan social media pages to find more.

(If LinkedIn isn’t a roadblock for you to stay positive, then keep at least that social media platform active during your job search, as it can be a great networking tool).

Pause the Search (Temporarily)

Have you ever stepped away from a project because you were feeling so drained and exhausted by it? Then, when you’re rested and refreshed, you can approach it with more clarity and creativity?

The same applies to staying positive during your job search. If you find that the application cycle is becoming especially tedious and time-consuming, don’t be afraid to take a step back from it altogether.

While you don’t want to abandon your hard-earned efforts forever, it can be incredibly refreshing and eye-opening to close your computer, take a walk, and eat something nourishing.

After a few hours away, you might feel ready to jump back online and keep applying.

Or, you might decide to take an even longer break, and resume it again when you can focus more clearly and intently. Depending on your circumstances, this may or may not be a feasible option. However, it can be immensely helpful to reassess your current situation and pump the brakes if you feel like you’re on a road you can’t escape.

Stay Positive and Keep Searching

When you’re in the throes of a job search, it can seem impossible to stay positive. However, changing your mindset could change everything.

By shifting to a more optimistic outlook, you can give yourself the mental clarity you need to push through these obstacles and unlock your true potential. You’ll learn more about yourself, discover new connections, and work toward a career that’s more fulfilling than you could have imagined.

Along the way, we’re here to help. Our step-by-step curriculum gives you the interview tools you need to stand out and succeed. Create an account today to get started!

Further Reading:

How to Prepare for a Career Change

Making a Career Change at 40
How to Handle Being Laid Off
Top 10 Most Values Job Skills
Starting Your Job Search

Pamela Skillings
Pamela is the co-founder of BigInterview and an expert interview coach on a mission to help job seekers get their dream jobs. As an HR authority, she also provides consulting services to companies wishing to streamline their hiring process.

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