How to Stay Positive During a Job Search

To stay positive during a job search, you’ll have to outwit despair.

The origin of the word despair is from the Latin — de-sperare — which means to lose hope. Despair not only feels uncomfortable, it crowds out hope, and without hope, it’s hard to imagine new possibilities and create effective strategies.

So how do you outwit despair?  

Go Ahead and Vent

Searching for a job can be an isolating experience, particularly if most people in your circle appear happily employed. If despair kicks in, it’s easy to slide into self pity. (Why is my life so much worse than…  fill in the blank.) There are moments when the best remedy is to blow off stem, as long you do it in measured doses. If friends and family no longer want to hear about your employment woes, find people who do. The best bet will be others going through a similar journey. The odds are you already know someone having career frustration and they probably know someone too. To stay positive during a job search, put together a small group. Schedule a regular meeting time, whether in person or online, where you can share challenges, give each other lots of support and generate new ideas.

Don’t Make Meaning Out of Rejection

When I was getting turned down for jobs on a regular basis, my Yoda-like friend gave me great advice. IT’S NOT PERSONAL, he said. Now, as a Career Coach, I understand even better what he meant. We can’t know exactly what goes on in an employer’s decision-making process, so there’s no benefit to creating a narrative about it, particularly when it sinks our self esteem. Sometimes, HR already had a candidate in mind and are just going through the motions. Here’s a scenario that actually happened to one of my clients: He applied for a job, went through a long vetting process and didn’t get hired. That was a really bad day. But what he didn’t know is that behind the scenes, the employers loved him, and in fact ultimately recommended him for another position, which turned out to be a great job. BTW, “It’s not personal” is useful advice for most situations.

Get Out of your Head, Off the Couch and Volunteer

A job search can be isolating, but also insular. Yes, it’s best not to take rejection personally. But I recognize that’s easier said than done. During my days looking for work, I’d go on long walks with my dog, not realizing until we got back to the house, that I’d spent the entire time focused inward in a negative spiral. A great way to shift focus and stay positive during a job search is to volunteer. There are so many positive benefits to volunteering –

Connect with a new crop of people

Use skills that might be gathering dust, while gaining some new ones

Check out a different field without committing to it

and as a huge bonus

Make the world a better place.

For more info on volunteer opportunities, check out my post, How to Volunteer Your Way to a Job

Create a Daily, Achievable Win

Commit to setting an achievable goal each day, whether it’s related to your job search or not. The key here is that it’s small and contained enough to accomplish within a day. It could be reaching out to one new person on your networking list or doing 50 sit-ups. In my case, I study 10 minutes of Spanish using a language app. Regardless of the other frustrating parts of my day over which I have little control, practicing Spanish is the one thing I can tick off my list, and achieve a sense of completion. Creating small wins are important in life, period. But they are especially vital when you’re looking for work.

For help reaching out to your networking list, click here.

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To Stay Positive During a Job Search, Resist Comparisons

It’s so tempting during difficult times to look at other people’s lives with envy. But it’s a losing proposition, and there’s only one way out. Gratitude. At the dinner table, when I was growing up and whining about the food, my mother used to remind me of all the starving children in India. In truth, her scolding wasn’t effective (sorry Mom). And that’s because gratitude has to come from your own point of view. No one can lay it on you. A good way to start building a gratitude practice is to end each day with a list of 5 things that went well for you. This may seem like off topic as a job-seeking strategy. But one of the most important characteristics necessary for finding satisfying work is STAMINA. It usually takes a while to connect with a good job, so part of your job during the process is to do what it takes to stay buoyant and in the game. Gratitude will help get you there.

I Feel Great pin by Adam J Kurtz

If you want personalized guidance and encouragement, get in touch with me. Together, we’ll create a winning strategy for your job search.

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