Ask any person who has been out of work for more than a few months and they will all agree that remaining positive is quite possibly the toughest part of unemployment – especially when they’ve been diligently searching for work.
Even the most optimistic people need a boost sometimes and everyone can benefit from people who have been in their shoes. So, I’ve reached out to a few of those professionals who know a thing or two about staying optimistic during a long job search, and here are some ways they found to beat the day-to-day job search blues:
1. Take solace in a nurturing community of professionals in a similar situation. You can either join a group in your town that meets twice a month or join an online chat discussion board that provides uplifting advice. Either way, it helps to surround yourself with people who know what you’re going through and need just as much encouragement as you do!
One of my clients joined a church-based group that was started as a result of the economic down-turn. Not only did he find comfort in connecting the other unemployed peers, he also found some great job leads, and eventually a job!
2. Realize that no job is perfect. It is easy to get excited about an open position to the point that you rely on your chances of getting an interview. But, putting your eggs in this one basket can cause you to become overly distraught when you’re not called to interview – and may distract you from other great opportunities.
A client I had in late 2008 (one of the worst times to look for a job) was so convinced that she was right for a specific position that she cast aside all other opportunities to focus on this one. She was devastated when she wasn’t called for an interview … until a few months later when she learned that the open position was actually pulled due to company layoffs.
A great way to approach the tendency to put positions on a pedestal is to put them into perspective by realizing their cons. Maybe you’ll have to sit in heavy traffic, or the job demands are highly stressful, or you’ll have to travel a lot, or the job requires software knowledge that you lack. Any number of cons will help you to still be interested in the job, but recognize that there is no perfect job – without exception.
3. Approach interviews as if they’re practice. After applying to a dozen or more jobs and only getting one interview, it is too easy to feel eager anxiety to give a perfect interview for the sole opportunity. But for most of us, this creates way too much pressure and often backfires in the interview.
If you do get a phone or in-person interview, the best way to mentally prepare is to consider the meeting as an opportunity to practice and hone your interviewing skills. While you will want to put your best foot forward, it is best to avoid unnecessary anxiety.
I once had a client that was so invested in an upcoming interview, she later said in retrospect that she actually tried too hard by memorizing answers and concentrating on being perfect in every way. She, in turn, came off as a robot and gave clunky, rehearsed answers. As you may have guessed, she didn’t get the job! However, she said she learned from the experience and had great interviewing experiences thereafter.
There are a number of online discussions and blogs dedicated to helping unemployed professionals remain positive during long job searches. Take advantage of these resources, take unnecessary pressure off yourself, and know that you’re not alone!