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Keeping positivity up when your job hunt gets you down - Your survival guide

Posted: 22 April 2015

There ain't many things on the planet more frustrating and anxiety-ridden than the good old job search process. Yes it can be engaging and well designed if there’s a solid gold employer brand at work, but more often than not the stress and pressure of finding your dream job can be a bummer. Aside from overcoming frustrating procedures and a flurry of fellow candidates, the job search is a classic case of fear of the unknown and rejection.

No matter how prepared, qualified or passionate you are, job seekers still come up against a dwindling of confidence and ever slower moving motivation. It’s the human side to pitting your worth against others on a daily basis that can really take its toll. So let’s go beyond poor recruitment practice and complicated application processes, let’s get to the nitty gritty of keeping your motivation and positivity up when you’re knee deep in job search woes.

How can you work your way through this intense experience both practically and emotionally? Can you stay upbeat and moving in the face of rejection? You can now.

The Survival Tip List - 12 life/career saving ways to keep smiling through the search.

This survival tip list is all about taking care of yourself both professionally and personally during this rocky adventure. This search shouldn’t just be about a short term goal (nailing a job), it should be about building up an aware and strong set of coping mechanisms for stress, self-doubt and delivering under pressure.

1. Create a routine.

Until you get a job, make finding one your job. Treat it like a full time position, set that alarm and set up a desk to work at. This ain’t no casual affair, the more professionally your treat this, the easier it will be to get into that ‘character’. Set daily, realistic goals to achieve every day. If you looked at the big picture aim, you’d cripple under the pressure so hone in on your daily aims to help you focus. One step at a time folks.

2. Volunteer.

You don’t need to stand still when you’re job searching. You should invest a lot of time and effort into your search but there’s more to nailing that job that sending CVs. How great would it look to a prospective employer that you’ve kept yourself busy and relevant, and who knows you might open some new doors during your volunteering. Use your search hours wisely.

3. Address stress before it happens.

When stress and boredom start to set in you need to address it head on. If you lose motivation, it can be tough to pull it back. What exactly is it that you’re stressing over? Rejection, being unprepared, how well you’ll fit in? Identify the stress source and tackle these hiccups one by one. It’s a stressful time so cut yourself some slack and think practically about your niggles.

4. Seek support.

It’s key to remember you’re not in this alone at all. Your competitors are also your comrades, going through the same issues and steps as you are. Whether you turn to your friends and family or a previous employer for mentorship, be sure to lighten the load by talking to folk who have walked in your shoes. It’s easy to get caught up in your own job drama, step out, talk it over and dive back in with a new perspective.

5. Move on quickly.

Didn't make the shortlist? It’s cool, keep moving. Chances are you’ve applied for multiple positions so you can’t afford to hung up on what doesn’t work out from you. Learn from that experience and keep on going. Take something from every interview, application and email. The second you dwell on a rejection or missed opp, you’ll lose a little fight so skip the beating yourself up stage and move onto the next one.

6. Celebrate small victories.

Finding a job is a series of steps that all need to be overcome one at a time. You updated your CV excellently, well done you. You created a killer cover letter, high five. You performed like a pro at your interview, of course you did. These mini-wins need to be celebrated so don’t shun the success, help keep motivation alive by rewarding good results and practice.

7. Focus on what you can control.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed with your search. The truth is you can only control a certain amount of what it takes to get you that job. So just focus on that. Why fret over what others think? Why self-critique to the point of destruction? Just ask yourself what can I do to make my chances better and work towards that alone. Go all in when it comes to networking or research and take some time to remember and take stock of your talents and achievements. It can be all too easy to forget how great you are.

8. Take a break.

There’s more to life than a job search. If you run yourself into the ground with pressure, constant applying and email checking, you’re good to no one. Sometimes the best thing for your application success and stress levels it to shut the machine and take a break. Get some perspective, we can all be too close to something we really want and it can hurt your chances. Be your own great manager and know when to step away for a breather.

9. Use feedback wisely.

Using feedback isn't about reading into every detail and crazy critiquing yourself. It’s practical info that you can use to improve your next situation. Don’t treat negative feedback as an indication to ditch your search attempts, and by the same measure don’t obsess over it. Take a balanced look at what actionable steps you can take to address it, implement them and then move on.

10. Fake it ‘til you make it.

When it comes to confidence, this is key. We all get the jitters or become plagued by self-doubt from time to time but don’t let that worm its way into your efforts. Be cool and don’t just think positively, project it. Bitterness and stress can show in your manner, personality and body language, all key things interviewers look at. Take a deep breath, smile and give yourself the best chance possible.

11. Don’t take rejection personally.

It’s easier said than done I know but it is possible. Your fit for a particular job isn’t linked to your worth as a human being. Don’t smudge those lines. It could be that the position has been filled internally or that a last minute recommendation swung it, a rejection can have very little to do with you. Watch your self-talk, be your own cheerleader and don’t carry that rejection onto the next opp. Channel that rejection into motivation.

12. Accept it won’t happen overnight.

If you can do this, half the battle is won. Too many candidates have idealised, unrealistic expectations for their job search adventure. Accept and embrace that this could be an open ended affair and be committed to getting as much out of the experience as possible. Set aims for this period, other than getting a job at the end of it all. Do you want to network more? Great, make that a mini-goal. Perhaps you want to learn some more skills along the way? Make a list and start planning that around your search.

In order to stay positive and motivated, there needs to be a conquering of fears and a commitment to learning from each rejection. If you can invest in not just surviving, but enjoying your job search process, you can pick up skills and emotional strength that will see you through your future career. So don’t fret and frown when it comes to your job search, jump in with confidence and determination. You’ll get more than a job out of it, trust me.

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