How To Stay Positive During A Long Job Search

Good morning, Highlanders! Sometimes you want or need a job change and the process starts taking longer than you might think. It’s easy to go into a negative space when this happens, but things usually spiral downward from there. Staying positive not only helps your job search from that point forward, but it helps you to be in a good mental place during the application and interview process. The below article provides different ways to continue this positive cycle during your next job search. This post was originally posted on Work It Daily on July 7, 2016 by Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT, a former educator turned Career Transition and Job Strategy Coach specializing in working with teachers who are experiencing the painful symptoms of job burnout. My comments are added in italics.

How To Stay Positive During A Long Job Search

There is little getting around the fact that job search can be a soul-sucking process that eats at your self-esteem and sense of worth. If you engage in the typical search, you will likely be turned down—rejected—multiple times before you finally land. The process can take weeks or months depending on the industry in which you work and the level at which you hope to be entering. An entry level job may be filled more quickly, for example, than a high level, executive position.

As far as you, the candidate, are concerned, you rarely expect the process to take as long as it takes, but that is the key element: it takes as long as it takes. You can’t rush the process, and you can’t, unfortunately, wave a magic wand and make it all be over, no matter how much you might want for it just to be over. No, you have to practice patience and perseverance, even in the face of a protracted search. *The job search process can take multiple months from application to actual hire or rejection. Many young professionals right out of college to 5 years out, expect a quick turnaround and might feel like they are going to be rejected from a job within the first 24-48 hours after application! Hiring managers are busy and may receive hundreds of applications and some might have regulations for how long a job is to be posted before even looking at the candidate pool. I have colleagues and friends who have applied for jobs and then 2-5 months later, someone calls them in for an interview and they get the job. The hiring process is tricky and you need to be ready for it, even months down the line after you’ve given up hope for that one job.

I would recommend that you adopt the fundamentals that are embedded in Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements as you undertake your search. In that bestselling book, Ruiz offers four life strategies that could easily be translated into good advice for job seekers. For example, Agreement #1 is “Be Impeccable In Your Word.” During your job search, it may be easy to fall into the habit of whining, complaining, name calling, and son on. You may feel the need to denigrate a former employer or colleague, for example, or to blame someone else for your current circumstances. Avoid engaging in that sort of self-defeating dialogue, whether it is with another person or just within yourself. Maybe you did get a raw deal, but what good does it do to dwell on that now? It is time to move on and demonstrate your professionalism by taking responsibility for all of your actions and interactions, and using your words to build up instead of tear down. This includes the words you use to build yourself up rather than to tear yourself down. *In your job search, it’s easy to have a pity party for yourself and start to feel down after time goes by or after a few rejections. I always tell people that you will never get a job you don’t apply for. At least when you apply, you’re giving yourself a chance at an amazing opportunity. Try not to talk yourself out of applying, even if it’s a long shot, just go for it! Maybe you’ll get an interview. Any interview is good practice.

The second agreement is “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” This one is tough given that we are hard-wired as humans to look for insults and disparagements. We egotistically consider that we are center stage and everything that goes on around us somehow has something to do with us. While that may be true if you are two years old, it is not the case once you are an adult! Even when you feel that someone has somehow slighted you, it is more than likely that they are just busy and not aware that you feel insulted. Also, as far as your job search goes, you must remember that you may be one of a hundred or more applications. It is unreasonable to expect that you will be treated like anything other than what you are which is an applicant for a job that may or may not ever become yours. Don’t take it personally when you don’t get a call or an interview or the job itself. Someone more qualified than you or someone who they just liked better than you got the job. But don’t take it personally! Do you want to work where you are not the best fit or the most qualified or where you will might not be liked for who you are? Of course not! *You never know when an internal candidate was also in the running for the job that you applied for. Many times, employers legally have to post a job even if they have someone in mind and go through the interview process like they don’t have someone lined up for the position. As a job seeker, you might think this is unfair, which many times is true, but sometimes the internal candidate does not receive the position because there was a stellar outside candidate. This reaffirms how important the interview process is in the hiring cycle.

The third agreement is also perfect for the job seeker. It is, “Don’t Make Assumptions.” Don’t think that you can know everything that is happening behind the scenes, and don’t make up stuff in the absence of real information! You will just make yourself miserable imagining what is going on, and you can’t possibly know what is going on anywhere other than with you at any given point in time. You have to let go of the assumptions that you are likely going to want to create while you wait eagerly for the phone to ring. *Using a mantra of some kind when you get frustrated about the length of time it’s taking to move through the hiring process, might be a good way to keep your sanity. Something simple like, “I am enough.”, “I will get a job.”, “I am worthy of a good job.”, “I know that if I don’t get a job, it wasn’t meant to be. There would have been something in that job that doesn’t fit me.” Thinking positively about your job search is the best way to stay motivated to keep on going. If you think that everything is terrible and that you’re incapable of getting a job, you will be. 

Finally, the fourth agreement is “Always Do Your Best.” At the end of the day, that is all you or anyone else can do. As a job seeker, however, doing your best means knowing what you are doing concerning your search. Are you working on your job search every single day? Are you following up on leads promptly? Are you sure your résumé is as strong as it should be? Are you networking and meeting people who might be good connections for you? *It’s hard to follow up when you’re constantly applying for new and different jobs, but if there’s a job that you really want, try your hardest to make a connection with someone who works within that company. Whether you find them on the company website or on LinkedIn, you’ll have a greater chance of getting an interview if you make a personal connection, virtually or in person. 

If you aren’t sure, it may be time to solicit professional help. You probably thought you didn’t need a job search coach. You might be wrong. Even if you come from a Human Resources background, you may need an objective third party to look over all of your job search documents, and you need someone to help keep you accountable and on track. Beyond that function, however, your job search coach can help keep you motivated. Sometimes you just need a cheerleader…someone who will remind you that you can do this. You can have the job of your dreams. You can do what your heart desires. You don’t have to take the first offer that comes your way. You don’t have to settle! *This is especially true if you currently have a job and are looking for a new one. You are in the best possible place to be picky about the next job you take. 

Staying positive and on track every single day can be tough, however. Every once in a while, it is okay to have a little pity party and let yourself have some ice cream or whatever your guilty pleasure is when you are feeling low. You are human after all. All of the rejections you may be getting take a toll on even the most confident candidate. But you can’t let the rejections get to you, and you can’t give up. This is your life! You get to decide how to live it. Don’t ever forget that. You can do whatever you want. Knowing that will help you stay positive throughout the process.

I won’t sugarcoat it, though. Staying positive during a long job search takes resilience and requires that you maintain faith even when you may feel like giving up. The fact is, however, that you don’t have the option of giving up. You have to keep going until you find the job you want…and you can do that even if it takes a while. I sometimes have to remind my clients that “It takes the time it takes.” The wait can be excruciating, I know, but, but it goes with the territory that is the job search process.

Read The Four Agreements, and use other uplifting, inspirational messages that will help you through this period of your life. Affirmations can help as well as surrounding yourself with a strong support group and the services of a career coach. This is an uncertain time in your life for sure, but you can use it to explore interests you may not have had time to explore before, so use some of your time for that. Do something fun that will take your mind off of your search periodically. And remember a favorite quote of mine from John Lennon: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” Everything will be okay. Just hang in there.

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