Looking for a new job search can be a very time consuming and long lasting effort – no matter if the economy is weak or strong. Even when companies are looking to fill a position fast, it can often take months for them to complete the hiring process. Delays can have several reasons, but in the end, all you can do as a job seeker is to wait and hope. Yes, there is a lot of hope involved as well because it can also happen that organizational changes at the hiring company put a hold on any hiring and what looked like a new opportunity for you is suddenly a dead end with a lot of wasted time and effort. Accordingly, your job search ends when it ends – meaning the moment you walk in the door of your new employer on your first day of work.
An important part during your job search is to stay positive. It is easy to get depressed and once you are down in that hole it is difficult to dig yourself out of it again. Becoming depressed and negative during your job search can even reflect on you during a job interview and hiring managers might pick up on that negativity and associate it with your overall personality. You can imagine what happens next – you will not be considered for that position and you will become even more depressed. Being looked at as a Debbie Downer type of person is not going to help you and so it is important to shake off the negative feeling when sending out resumes without ever getting a response. Trust me, I’ve been in your shoes before and I know that it feels easier to give in to the negativity than to resist those negative thoughts and to keep on fighting. When I decided to make a career change in the late 1990s and to get into IT (Information Technology) I had no IT background on my resume, but I kept on going. I actually used that time to further educate myself and to obtain a couple of IT certifications. Back then I must have sent out over 100 resumes and applications until I finally received a job offer (actually 3 job offers from different companies within a 10-day time period).
How do you stay positive during your Job Search?
1) Do NOT give up! Do Not cave? I know this is not easy, but you can program yourself to not give up or to cave – no matter how difficult everything seems to be. Find something back in your life that seemed super-challenging and difficult where you thought you would never make it and then remind yourself about it. If you were able to overcome those kinds of obstacles before you can do it again. You need to keep reminding yourself about it over and over again.
2) Focus on what you can control: You submitted your resume or you had an interview with a company and then nothing happens. You want the recruiter to call you, but of course you do not have control over how fast a company decides to contact you. Don’t waste your time thinking about it. That part of the process you have no control over and you need to remind yourself about it. Instead, focus your energy on things you have control over. As an example, I stop looking at job postings the moment I have received an acceptable job offer from a company that I like to work for – not a moment earlier. It has happened to me that I received a job offer from a company I liked and wanted to work for, but the financial side of the offer was simply no good. I had talked to the recruiter before and they knew what my salary history and salary requirements were and all seemed Ok, but when the offer was made it was far from even being close. In general I focus my energy on stuff I can control during the job search. I can work on my resume and improve it. I can scan job listings to look for additional opportunities. I can work on learning a new skill. I can go out and network with other people. I can go online and network with other people. There are a ton of productive things you can do during your search. Focus on those.
3) Ask for Help! Job Search can turn you into a lone wolf. Maybe you want to leave your current employer, but nobody there knows about it. There is nobody you can talk to that understands how you feel. Your friends and family might know you being job hunting, but you know how it is – you get asked about your job search all the time and of course that reminds you how frustrating and slow it can be looking for a new job. So, get help by asking for it. Yes, it is as simple as that. You can also join networking groups or online forums or different Facebook groups. You can hire a career coach or attend workshops and seminars related to job search, job interviews, resume building, etc.
4) Volunteer your time. Volunteering can be a rewarding experience and it can actually help you with your job search. Volunteer work looks great on your resume which can then help to get that call for an interview eventually. In addition, volunteering gets you out of the house and occupies your mind with something way more positive.
5) Learn new skills. Learning a new skill is not only helping you to focus on something else, but it also increases your skill set and makes you a better choice from a recruiting perspective. I work in IT (Information Technology) and for me learning a new skill is a must. However, I also like to learn a new technology the moment it becomes available – not when it becomes mainstream. There is so much less competition when you are at the forefront of a new technology compared to when the broad masses of IT workers start catching up. By the time they have this skill added to their resume I might already be a subject matter expert.
6) Avoid negativity as much as possible. You know how it is – there will always be people with a negative attitude and it is too easy to get pulled down by them. Avoid the water-cooler talk and stay away from the usual office gossip. It could be a relative who – when you really think about it – is a Debbie Downer type of person. It could even be your parents that secretly do not want you to be better off compared to them. You might laugh, but this happens. It might not be their plan when they wake up in the morning, but this type of behavior can be unintentionally and it can be destructive. Some parts of my wife’s family are like this. They are uneducated, under-employed, and overall not successful in life. They sit on top of each other to make sure “nobody is getting away”. It is kinda sad really, but there is only one thing you can do about it – get away as fast and as far as possible.
There will be major up and downs during your job search and the better you prepare yourself for both, the better you will be off. Avoid becoming overly optimistic because the job search is not over until you walk in the door on your first day of work. No matter how well an interview went (in your opinion), you do not know if the next candidate did interview even better than you and has a ton of experience more that you do not have. Or you receive an offer from a company you interviewed with and they really like you, but you do not like them. This list can easily be expanded as there are so many situations that can affect how you feel during your job search. If you get asked too often by friends and family about your job search, ask them politely to stop asking if these questions drag you down. Explain that you want to stay focused on your job search and these questions distract you in a bit of a negative way. Personally, I am able to move my mind off my job search situation fairly easily and concentrate on other things. I set goals in many different areas and that helps as well to be concentrated and productive even if things do not look too promising with my job search efforts. I learned to program my mind and to concentrate on certain things and not have my thoughts wonder off to the negative stuff that surrounds me eventually. Life is too short to worry about negative stuff and I rather concentrate on good things and to think positive.
So, I highly recommend to think about this early on and to plan for it. The more you are prepared the better off you will be. Too many people fall into this trap unprepared, but it does not take much to avoid it.