Maintaining Motivation in Your Job Search

August 10, 2009

While the recently released jobs report from the Department of Labor suggests that the recession is slowly but surely relenting, many are still searching for adequate employment. The unemployment rate is 9.4%, which does not even factor in the large segment of the population who is also underemployed, working fewer hours than they would prefer. Therefore, many are still preoccupied with the job search process. Unfortunately, since the average job search now lasts 24 weeks, even the most active job candidate can tend to become discouraged. The following are some tips to maintain motivation and optimism during a protracted job search.

1) Create a job search plan- developing a structured plan can alleviate initial feelings of confusion, anxiety or frustration which are common feelings for job search candidates, particularly for those who have not been in the job hunt for several years. The structured plan should include networking as one of the primary tasks. Many job search candidates spend more time utilizing online job sites such as Monster or Careerbuilder, which is a method that accounts for only 5% of job acquisition, rather than networking, which accounts for about 40-60% of job acquisition. Finding a job is a job, and as such, you should spend at least 4-5 hours a day in different job search activities. Lack of productive tasks is a primary reason for loss of motivation, and by engaging in a variety of strategies (e.g. networking, informational interviews, etc.), you will be more likely to continue to feel energized and optimistic.

2) Discuss your job search with others- as mentioned above, networking is a critical element in landing a job. Unfortunately, a good portion of unemployed workers feel stigmatized and are reluctant to talk about their search for new employment. Since the search process can be a very isolating experience, participating in job search groups or having a job coach, or someone who can assist you in formulating and modifying your job search plan, will be most crucial. Blind spots in the process can be illuminated by others who may have a different and useful perspective than your own.

3) Check in with yourself- if you find that you are not following your plan or feel less motivated as the weeks pass, it is important to consider the reasons for the malaise. First, it is perfectly normal to have moments of pessimism, yet if such feelings persist it is important to understand how to address them. You may still be mourning your old job and life, and be angry about having to begin anew. You may feel fearful about the possibility of not landing a suitable job, or anxious about accepting a position which may pay less than your previous position. Once you have identified the block in your job search, you can then develop an appropriate solution.

4) Revisit your job search plan- while patience is necessary during these challenging times, if many weeks have passed with no substantial leads, it is essential to consider your options. Your resume may need to be revised, your interviewing skills might have to be sharpened, or it may be time for a career transition. Being flexible enough to reformulate your plan will enable you to bolster your job search process to make it the most efficient and beneficial for you.

5) Engage in positive self-talk- you have skills and experience which are valuable and will eventually allow you to land a good fit job. You must continue to positively reinforce yourself and maintain an optimistic outlook as the recession continues to lift.

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