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Staying Motivated in a Frustrating Job Search

Being rejected is worse when it happens a few times. It gets you demotivated depressed, and confused. You start questioning yourself. "Why is this happening to me? Not now. I need a job or at least an interview to prove myself. I know if I get at least one interview, I will get a job". Remember, almost everyone gets a job. Some are blessed to get an appointment letter and start immediately, while others have to wait, days if not months to land a decent job. The last thing an interviewer wants is a "dejected and depressed employee who cannot handle stress". Easy to say, but it is true. Rarely do the interviewers understand the situation, but they are not to blame. They are looking for the right candidate.

Here's what you can keep in mind to stay motivated:

1. It is Part of the Job Search Process

Looking for a job is a job in itself. You need to work 09:00 AM to 5:00 PM Sunday through Thursday doing research, scouting competitive companies, ensuring your CV is professionally prepared, setting up google alerts (and even LinkedIn and other job alerts). Make sure you are practicing interview skills throughout. You have got the desire, you have got the ball rolling, you are trying hard and applying for relevant jobs.

Sometimes even after doing this for a month, you find nothing, not one call.? Normal. Got ghosted—even after the final round of interviews? Normal.

Part of staying positive throughout your search is managing your expectations. Prepare yourself for rejections. Mentally it will make you stronger, and soon you will edge off other job applicants. Results are bound to come. The question is which company and how much would the offer be? Remember your patience and endurance is being tested.

2. It Will Help You in the Future.

You could encounter a situation when a hiring manager or interviewer agrees to meet you and then stands you up, or even tells you that you have got the job and then ghosts you.

In this instance, reflect on everything that was atypical about your experience, so you can assure yourself you will avoid it in the future. You could have even expected a business plan that you submitted to get you the job, but you later realized that the time and effort you invested in the business plan was used to hire a competing candidate.

You are not being treated the right way. Look back on all of your communication with the company previously. Are there red flags you can be on the lookout for the next time?

Sometimes, the best way in your job search to move on is to reassure yourself you learned what you needed to so you are not burned again.

3. Get Specific With Your To-Do List

When your motivation is low, general job-searching tasks like “network” and “redo resume” can be overwhelming. A great way to instantly make your search seem more manageable is to rework your to-do list to include smaller, more specific tasks.

For example, a friend planned out a goal to reach out to three direct contacts one day and three referrals the next for informational interviews. Both were easy to-dos that, over time, helped him reach his broader goal of expanding his network.

In addition, when it came to actively apply, instead of telling himself he had to find more jobs in general, he gave himself a weekly target of four to five jobs. This was a realistic goal that allowed him to focus his attention on crafting the best job applications each week (and saved him time from writing a hundred cover letters).

4. Look Up Your Career Role Models

When you’re job searching, reading description after description requiring “five to seven years of experience” in a certain field, it is hard to remember the truth about career paths: They are rarely linear. In fact, most successful people made loops, jumps, and a few skids to get to where they are today.

So, step away from the job boards, jump onto Linkedin, and search for people who have your dream jobs or who work at companies you are interested in. Looking at the various ways people have gotten to where they are now will likely remind you that there is no straight path to success.

Asking people to share a bit about how they got to where they are and some advice for your own search can be incredibly helpful—and motivating.

5. Seek Constructive Criticism from Your Supporters

Your biggest fans can also be your most helpful critics—if you ask them to be. That supportive former co-worker, who believed in you, and friend who just gets you, all know your full potential and how you could improve. So, if you’re feeling like you’re trying everything but still getting nowhere, try asking them for some constructive criticism and be open to it rather than defending yourself.

Identify where you are struggling, whether it is with resume formatting or interviewing, and ask for advice from the appropriate people. Based on their knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, they can give specialized, honest advice (that will be motivating and realistic to put into practice than the generic tips you’re reading everywhere).

Learn about how to create a perfect "sales pitch" in 30 seconds and practice it over and over again. It could be frustrating practicing, but you must keep going—and soon, you will be able to deliver an effective pitch that you can use when you meet potential contacts, hiring managers, or decision-makers.

6. Put Your Career Goals on Paper

“Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” is a question we all try to avoid. But right now, when you’re in a slump, is exactly the right time to answer it.

Take some time to make a list of all of your dreams, big and small. Actually putting them on paper will force you to think about what you want to achieve and—better yet—motivate you to see at least one goal (if not all of them) through. Think of it kind of like a to-do list for your career: Seeing things on paper will get you excited to check things off.

As an added bonus, seeing your dreams in writing may give you some ideas on how to tie them together. A few days ago I spoke to a family member who has a passion for teaching and is a Communication Manager (now looking for a job). I suggested that she could contact colleges and universities to look for a part-time position as a teacher/trainer of Corporate Communications and even create her own online training material and videos.

7. Take Days Off

At one point, I was doing something business development-related every day, from going on informational articles to searching for companies who are hiring. I was feeling burned out. And I found myself losing sight of my main objectives and looking for prospective clients, even if they were not right for my business.

What I realized is that the best way to deal with a motivational slump of any sort is to take a few days off. Pre-determined free days—where you get some time off from thinking about resumes, cover letters, and interview questions—can alleviate all those frustrations and help restore your drive. By taking a few days off here and there, I found that I was able to refocus and better tackle the search when I was ready.

As a job candidate, you are vulnerable. You are putting yourself out there because you need a job and you want something better for yourself and your family.

The last thing you want is to let a bad experience keep you from meeting your ultimate goal. Instead, use it as a drive to keep going, learn from experience, and find a company that will make you feel comfortable and valued from the moment you first apply.


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