Job search fatigue: how to stay motivated after months on the job market
You’ve been looking for a new job for a long time… months, maybe even more than a year. You’re getting burned out and you need to find something soon for your sanity and your bank account. What can you do to stay positive, focused and productive?
It’s really easy to get stuck in a cycle of searching and applying, followed by “radio silence” or rejection. It’s draining and often discouraging. But you can make some simple changes to your routine that will restore your motivation and help you get more focused on what you want and less on your resume and cover letters. You also don't want to go into job interviews with a sense of defeat, as this attitude will likely come across to a potential employer.
CLIMB OUT OF YOUR JOB SEARCH SLUMP
1. Change up your “to-do” list. Instead of checking off vague tasks like “networking” or “research,” consider breaking your efforts up into smaller, more specific goals. For instance, consider committing to making two contacts a day and alternate that activity with days where you look for more job opportunities. When you’ve accomplished that, you’re done for the day.
2. Spend some time reading about and reaching out to people who already have the job you want. Check out their social media profiles and see how they got to their current position. You might even contact them and ask for some advice in your own job search.
3. Write down your career goals. What are you ultimately working toward? In 5-10 years, what would your dream job be? Make a list of the types of things you find exciting and make a list of items you can “check off” (long term) as you move through your career.
4. Take some time off. When you’re grinding through the applications and job sites all day, every day, it’s easy to get burned out and discouraged... Especially after months of searching. Consider taking some time to volunteer, relax and re-focus. Remember to concentrate on what you want to do and the types of jobs that interest you.
5. Get some help from friends or a job coach. If nothing’s working, consider getting some input from someone, like a mentor, who knows you well or has professional coaching skills. They can help you identify where you’re struggling and give you honest feedback.
6. Make sure you celebrate your small victories. Did you get the phone interview? The in-person interview? Did you make a new connection? Even if you haven’t yet gotten an offer, celebrating the small wins will help you stay positive.
7. Learn to move on quickly. If you haven’t heard back from the interviewer and you’ve reached out to them with no response, consider it a “no” and move on to the next opportunity. Don’t wait or fixate on any one job. You should only follow up one time after the interview. Any more than that and you start to look desperate.
DON'T LET A POTENTIAL EMPLOYER SEE YOU SWEAT
When you do get an interview, you don’t want the hiring manager to sense how frantic you might feel when you’ve been on the hunt for a long time. Avoid looking desperate by doing the following:
- Make sure you appear confident from the moment you arrive for the interview. Dress well, firm handshake, good eye contact and good posture. No slumping or looking down. Smile.
- Don’t make “off-the-cuff” remarks or comments that you think might be funny, but fall flat with the interviewer. Attempts at humor rarely work and can be an obvious sign that you’re nervous.
- Don’t try to be too informal in your manner by trying to be overly friendly and casual. You’re there to impress the interviewer with your skills, experience and fitness for the job.
- No excuses. It never helps to go into long explanations or seem overly apologetic about your lack of skills or confidence in your last job, thinking it makes you seem humble. Hiring managers want to hear about accountability, responsibility and accomplishment.
- Avoid any desperation language. You don’t need to communicate how long and arduous this search has been, how the economy is working against you or how you’ll “do anything” to get this job. Focus on your strengths, experience and education.
- When you follow up after the interview, wait a couple days. You don’t want to be calling him/her from your car, five minutes after you left. Just follow-up once, offer to answer any questions that may have come up since you met and be upbeat and to the point.
- Don’t seem too available. Even if you do get an offer, resist accepting on the spot. Allow the interviewer to think you are considering other offers and have had other interviews. Ask if you can get back to them in a day or two with your answer.
- Whatever you do, be calm in your approach and appear confident. Be sure you’re prepared for typical interview questions and have crafted some thoughtful questions you can ask at the end. Do your research, speak slowly, and don’t act too available.
- In the meantime, surround yourself with positive people, use your time wisely and continue to reach out and meet new contacts, try new and different job sites and ask for help when you need it.