Twelve tips on how to stay motivated during your job search

stay motivatedBusinesses of all sorts have gone on a hiring spree in recent months to make up for a labor shortage resulting from the effects of the Covid pandemic. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, there are currently 11.2 million job openings in the U.S. But the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports only 5.9 million unemployed workers who want a job.

That should be encouraging for those looking for jobs. Even though there are a lot of openings, however, it doesn’t mean that it will easy to find the job that is best for your interests and skills. It may be a long haul, so it’s important to stay motivated.

Here are a few tips on how to do that.

1. Start the day off right

Establish a schedule and stick to it. Begin your job of searching for a job at the same time each day, as if you were going to work. Wake up at a certain time and eat a healthy breakfast. You may want to begin with a motivational quote to get inspired. Job search site Indeed has an excellent collection from which to choose.

2. Create your vision

Visualize your ideal job. What you will be doing. Where you will be working. The pay you would like to receive. And even what you will be able to do with the money you earn. It could also be beneficial to visualize how getting a job will make your life better.

You can create a vision poster for a fun way to carry this out. Cut out pictures from magazines – or print them out from online websites – that are symbols of your goals. These might be a picture of a house or car you’d like to buy, a savings account for the future, someone who’s doing the type of work you’re interested in, a place where you might want to vacation, or even your favorite food. Paste these on a piece of poster board with a few inspirational words and look it at every day to remind you of the benefits of securing a job.

3. Focus on things you can control

Don’t take it personally when you don’t hear back about a job you applied for or other things beyond your control. Instead focus your attention on what you can do to move your job search forward. Improve your resume or create a JIST card. Write a 30-second elevator pitch. Research and add more companies and hiring managers to your list of people to cold call.

4. “Don’t Break the Chain”

When Jerry Seinfeld, star of the 1990s sitcom Seinfeld, was first starting out, he wanted to ensure that he would have good work habits. He believed that to achieve success as a comedian, he had to write better jokes. And he had to do it every day. So he took a giant calendar, hung it on the wall and put a giant red X through each day when he wrote his jokes. After a few days it became a chain, and he didn’t want to break it. You can also use this simple technique of “Don’t Break the Chain.” Decide what you want to accomplish in your job search. It doesn’t have to be the same thing all the time. You can create a weekly schedule of what you will do each day. And when you complete all the tasks, mark off the day on the calendar with a big X. And soon you’ll have your own unbroken chain.

5. Ask for feedback

If you apply for a job and are not chosen, call the hiring manager and find out why.  Express appreciation for being considered. Then say, “I want to learn from this experience.What should I work on to improve my chances for this type of position?” If they offer an answer and it’s an accurate assessment, it can help you see where you may have development needs and what to work on to improve. Also ask friends to tell you what you can do to improve your chances of getting hired. And remember, the hiring process can be arbitrary.

6. Establish a support network

Surround yourself with positive people. And don’t spend time with people who are negative or critical and not supportive. Ask your friends if they know anyone who knows anyone doing the type of work you want to do, and get to know them. Invite them out for coffee or meet in a park to discuss their job, what exactly they do every day and why they like it. You might not just only make a new friend, but they might inform you of any job openings they hear about. For a more formal arrangement, you might want to create a job search support team.

7. Volunteer your time

Volunteer for a cause you support. Doing volunteer work will give you a break from your job search and a chance to meet people, learn new skills and have a good time. If you think you’d like to get into carpentry, volunteer to build houses with Habitat for Humanity. If you love animals, check your local animal shelter for volunteer opportunities. Search the internet using “volunteer and the name of your city,” and you should find a wide variety of opportunities.

8. Join a job club

Joining a job club, also known as a job search support group, can keep you motivated by making you accountable to the group. Job clubs can be small informal groups or larger organizations, often sponsored by churches, libraries or nonprofit organizations. Although the Dept. of Labor’s CareerOneStop website has a job club finder, these days many of the larger groups have gone on hiatus because of Covid. But you can start your own, maybe by telling a counselor at your local American Job Center that you are looking for other people to join.

9. Take a break

A job search can be stressful, and you don’t want to be doing it all the time. Take a day off and do something that you love. Go hiking, watch a movie, get together with friends, ride your bike.

10. Enroll in a class

Whether it’s an aerobics or dance class at your health club or a painting or chess class at the local community center, experiencing something new will help you take a break from looking for work. These classes can also be a great way to get exercise, learn new skills and make new friends.

11. Dwell on the positive

While you may not get the first job you apply for, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember your past achievements and the successes you’ve had. Think of what you will bring to the job in terms of skills and personality.  If you’re in reentry, put together a turn-around packet that highlights your achievements both while incarcerated and after release. This will give you confidence and will convince hiring managers that you are getting your life back together.

12. Think of what you’re grateful for

Learn to practice the Three Good Things technique. To do this, every evening you write down three good things that happened to you that day and think about them. This practice will change your focus from what goes wrong in your life to what goes right. A 2005 research study found that using this technique had the same effect as Prozac in improving the subjects’ well-being.

We’ve outlined quite a few ideas here on how to stay motivated. But even experimenting and implementing just a few of them can make a big difference. They will increase your motivation to carry out your job search activities and, through perseverance and hard work, ultimately bring success in landing a job.

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