It’s possibly one of the most demoralizing things that can happen. Whether it’s downsizing, firing, end of a contract, or other reasons, losing a job can be stressful to your mind and body, your finances, and your relationships. On top of the stress of losing your job is the pressure to find another one and quickly. No small feat in today’s job market. Even if you’re not coming off a job loss, a graduate looking for their first job, a recent transplant to another city, or a new mother getting back into the workforce, trying to find a job can be full-time work in itself – one with a pretty high rate of rejection. How do you keep yourself focused and keep from giving up?
Before I get started this week, I just want to reiterate the disclaimer that I always place at the end of these posts. Job loss is an especially tough topic to try and stay positive about and can be as detrimental to your mental and emotional state as losing a loved one. If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of severe depression, please seek out a medical professional. Also, please remember that the suggestions given are just that and please adjust accordingly to what works best for you.
So… how do you find ways to stay positive and motivated in your job search, rather than indulging in Netflix Instant Queue and your comfy couch all day? Admittedly, when I was between jobs, I didn’t do so well on this, so most of these tips come from my husband (who has been super-humanly positive during his search). This doesn’t even scratch the surface on advice for job seekers, though, so I’ve included links to some of my favorite job seeker pieces below, too.
So, because there’s been enough ado already, here are my tips for staying positive during your job search.
- Make Job Searching Your Job. Starting off with this mindset will do a lot to fend off those urges to stay in bed all day or sit on your couch in your PJs watching the first four seasons of The Real World on Hulu Plus (yes, they’re on there, isn’t that AMAZING?!?!). Get up, shower, get dressed, and get to work. If distractions are too much at your home, head out to your local library, coffee shop, or other communal gathering place. While applying for jobs all day can be taxing, break up your day by focusing on other tasks, too: spruce up your resume or portfolio; set up a personalized splash page (about.me and flavors.me are two great services) to promote your work, if applicable; touch base with old co-workers to ask for recommendations (if you’re not already using it, check out LinkedIn as an invaluable resource for building up a collection of professional recommendations, amongst other things). And take lunch. Because at your job, you would take lunch… so give yourself a lunch break.
- Plan ahead, and be prepared for the worst. That probably sounds counter-intuitive to positivity, but the alternative is to immerse yourself in detail and get blindsided when your emergency fund has been depleted. Think about the expenses you can cut, the assets you can sell, and what your fall back plan is. Plan some kind of schedule for what you want to have accomplished by certain dates (an up-to-date resume, an interview, etc.), and what you’ll do if things don’t go as hoped (take a part time job, sell a car, etc.).
- Do all the things you could never do during the nine-to-five hours. Have a lunch date with your partner. Meet a friend for a Tuesday brunch. Give your sister-in-law a break and offer to babysit for an afternoon. Go see a terrible movie and MST3K it if you’re the only one there. Walk around a museum and take your time to look at everything. Whilst on the one hand it’s useful to look at the process as being a “˜job’ in itself, it’s also hugely important to stay positive, so doing things (inexpensive or free things) that keep you feeling “˜chipper’ os just as important as doing things that are actively productive.
- Stay social. It’s very easy to give in and withdraw from your friends. Every time you see someone, you have to go through the whole explanation about how you’re unemployed and haven’t found anything new yet and it becomes real again every time you say that. If you let them, though, your friends and family are most likely going to be extremely supportive of you and might even be able to help you build new networking connections. Make sure to keep yourself surrounded with positive people; they’ll make it easier for you to keep your spirits up. Instead of going out for meals/drinks, invite people over, or arrange to meet up for a bike ride or walk.
- And last, but not least, if you need tips on being a Starbucks Hobo on, like, two bucks a day, just ask my husband. He has that down to a science. His secret is the Starbucks Gold Card.
Career Transitions: How to Cope with the In-Between Stage (Tiny Buddha)
I Want Her Job – Great website with profiles of women from all walks of life who love what they do. I use it as a source of inspiration and reflecting on what it is that I want to do.
Ramit Sethi – My husband has found the free material on his site to be invaluable. Ignore the fact that his domain name sounds like a scam.
Your Interview Checklist (Persephone Magazine) – Luci Furious gives you her top five tips for when you get that interview.
The “job search” and “jobs” tags here at Persephone are also full of great, helpful articles from a variety of perspectives.
This Week’s Challenge
Find the light in your job search. It’s really tempting to focus on the negatives of not having a job, but if you look for them, there are positives to be found. Has your free time allowed you to rediscover an old hobby or read more? Were you itching for a career change anyway? A change of location? Have you had more time to volunteer with an organization you’re passionate about? Heck, have you made it through all of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix? Those are positives. Embrace them.
This Week’s Mantra
A surprisingly astute quip from an old school comedian: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle
If you want a reminder of your mantra for the next week, feel free to click the image above to download a wallpaper-sized version.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or mental health expert, and there are problems that positivity cannot overcome, so please do not take this advice in lieu of a doctor’s care.
Not all challenges will be relevant to everyone, so I welcome you to come and go as you please and take from each challenge what works for you! Please make sure to share your thoughts in the comments!