Recently I was asked, “how can I stay motivated during a job search?” It reminded me of how hard it is to remain focused when working through change. The question inspired me to share five strategies that have helped me stay motivated throughout my career when searching and interviewing for my next position:
1. Set practical goals
It takes time to find a new job, sometimes up to or over a year, depending on what you “must-have.” Document what your objectives are, separate your “needs” versus “wants,” and outline steps you can take each day to help realize your goals. Think about the type of jobs you are looking for and put together a written plan to guide your search. Consider whether you’re narrowing your search too much. Recognize that your ideal job maybe a few years out and that you’ll need to find other roles that can help you reach your ultimate goal.
2. Ask for help
This is a two-part strategy depending on where you are in your job search. (a) Talk To Your Trusted Network. Once you’ve identified your career aspirations and goals, reach out to your trusted network and discover how they can help you. Whether it’s asking them to connect you to a few people, brainstorming options, or just listening, these are the people who have your back and can help you stay engaged. They can provide you with the guidance, new ideas, or the nudge you need to stay motivated and not give up. (b) Identify Where You Are Struggling. Whether it is with resume formatting or interviewing, ask for advice from the appropriate people (a former manager, friend, partner, or trusted colleague). Based on their knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, they can give you practical suggestions to improve your performance. For example, in preparing for interviews, I’d role play with my husband. He helped me identify ways to enhance and simplify my message. We’d practice and practice while doing house chores, and each time it didn’t feel right, I would restart. It was frustrating and tiring, but it kept me going—and the outcome was worth it. Time and time again, I was able to deliver compelling stories to share my experiences and answer questions with interviewers.
3. Try something different
Not getting the hits you want? Then it may be time to try something different. Freshen up your resume or approach. Think about your musts – are they ALL musts? – perhaps you can expand your search further. Trying the same thing over and over will get you the same results. Branch out and recognize that you may need some help to expand outside what you know. You can attend a job search workshop, go to a local networking event or job fair, and talk to companies that are hiring.
4. Stay positive
When interviewing, it’s easy to lose patience and hope, especially when it seems that no one is calling. But stay positive. Having been on the hiring side, I try to remember that when there is a vacancy at an organization, it usually means the team is short-staffed. Often filling a position quickly – as critical as it is – takes a back-seat due to many things outside the hiring manager’s control. While you are waiting, continue your search. Don’t let one job opportunity or disappointment discourage you. Instead, keep going and learn from the experience. The right job is out there for you! You just haven’t found it yet.
5. Enjoy a break
Take a walk. Go out and have fun. Just relax. Do something that inspires you. You deserve it. If you’ve been dedicating hours and hours to your search, and nothing seems to be gelling, step away, and clear your head. Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate all that you’ve done so far. Do something that re-energizes and gives you the power you need. Then start fresh the next hour or day.
I hope these strategies are helpful to you.