Thursday, August 9, 2007

Staying Motivated During An Extended Job Search

Anyone who has been in the job market for any length of time knows how frustrating the process can be. In today's competitive environment it's not uncommon to send out numerous resumes yet generate only limited response for your effort. This can have even the most confident professional questioning his or her marketability and job-hunting abilities. It can be particularly challenging to stay motivated when a search takes longer than expected. The techniques you used early on may no longer be effective or appropriate several months into the process. It's critical to continually reassess your strategy and take steps to keep up your morale. Here are a few suggestions:
Take a class: While your job search is no doubt your top priority, using some of your time to gain new skills can be a wise distraction-and a valuable investment. Consider courses that will increase your marketability, such as those focused on business communication or technology. You'll expand your knowledge base and improve your longterm career prospects. Even if the course is unrelated to your profession, you can still benefit. Learning should be an ongoing process whether or not you're actively in the job market.
Volunteer: There's no more effective way to lift your spirits than to help others. As an added bonus, you'll expand your network, which is particularly valuable during a job search.
Take a break: Designate a day when you won't talk or think about employment issues. By allowing yourself some time off, you can recharge and remain productive.
Be around positive people: Surround yourself with friends and family who are supportive and maintain an optimistic outlook on life. This will help you keep your spirits high and provide the motivation you need when you hit a career roadblock.
Get exercise: Studies have shown that physical activity can minimize the psychological impact of stress. Getting into a regular exercise routine will keep you energized. Hiring managers look for enthusiasm when interviewing job applicants. It isn't always easy to maintain that enthusiasm several weeks or months into the search. Exercise can help.
Attend association meetings: Participating in activities offered by professional associations, including the Institute of Management Accountants, can help you increase your visibility in the accounting community. Play an active role in the group, and volunteer for projects. You'll make new contacts while providing much-needed assistance to a volunteer-driven organization.
Keep a record of your search: Spend about 10 to 15 minutes a day writing down your thoughts about the process. What progress did you make? What setbacks did you encounter? What new avenues can you pursue? The simplest ideas often can be the catalysts for new approaches to your search.
Talk to a professional: A career counselor or professional recruiter can assess your resume and cover letter, offer an overview of the employment market in your area, and recommend steps you might take to better target your search.
Re-evaluate your priorities: Failing to accomplish your job-- search objectives can be discouraging, so it's worth taking a second look at your goals. Have you inadvertently been setting yourself up for failure? For instance, if you are only willing to work for companies in a specific industry or geographic area, you may need to expand your search. Would you be willing to drive an extra 30 minutes each way for the right opportunity? Would you consider a position that has a lower base salary yet room for advancement? Decide your absolute must-haves, and be prepared to compromise on those aspects of the job that are like to-haves, particularly in a competitive job market.
Read books about successful people: Almost everyone has encountered a setback on the way to the top. Learning about the experiences of others can help you keep your own situation in perspective.
Join a support group: Talking with others who are going through the same experience is important so you can feel connected and develop new ideas that can help your search. Most major cities have career resource centers that host networking meetings for job seekers. You'll be surprised how willing people are to assist you, whether they offer leads on companies that are hiring or simply listen to your concerns.

The job-search process can be challenging in any employment environment, particularly for those not accustomed to marketing their skills on a daily basis. Finding a new position requires persistence and, at times, an ability to overcome rejection.
When faced with an extended job hunt, you need a strategy for maintaining motivation over the long term. Increasing your marketability, getting involved in the community, and periodically reassessing your goals can help you stay on track, by keeping a positive attitude in the face of setbacks, you'll position yourself well to demonstrate that resilience to prospective employers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent topic!