Staying positive during the job search
It seems that lately every time we read the paper, turn on the TV or radio, or go online, there is a story on rising unemployment figures, sinking economic projections or mass layoffs. It is hard to escape the impact this constant barrage of negative news can have on a job seeker. Finding a job, not to mention the right job, is challenging under the best conditions, but even more so given today's economic climate. Without disconnecting from society – or at least the media – there are ways for a job seeker to stay positive during a search.
Attitude is within your control. Whether learning of a job loss or missing out on an offer, you can't force hiring decisions to go your way. But you can control your reaction to the circumstances. Allow yourself that healthy moment of disappointment and then pick yourself up and dust yourself off. Find a glimmer of hope, an ironic moment, or something to laugh about and go with it. This will help you move on a lot more quickly, which is imperative to your search.
Remember that companies are still hiring. Just think – even with unemployment at nearly 9 percent that means 91 percent of the workforce is still employed, and no matter the economic climate, hiring is always taking place. People leave their jobs willingly every day to change roles, retire, move, raise families, return to school, start their own ventures, or volunteer. Each one of these circumstances leaves an opening and is far more common than a business adding to staff due to a growth spurt or new product launch.
Keep things in perspective. While your situation may seem overwhelming, take a step back and understand the reality of your circumstances. Find the positives in your life and appreciate that you have good health or a loving partner or great kids. Unemployment can be a blow to our egos and finances, but it can also be a time to realize that in general, things are pretty good in our lives compared to others who are less fortunate.
Momentum is your friend. Don't just sit there, do something! When routine is shaken up, lackadaisical habits slip in. Getting involved in other activities often keeps the job search in momentum. Think about helping out at your kids' school, volunteering at a local shelter, or taking a class. The more you do, the better you will feel, and the more people you will meet which will ultimately better your chance of success.
Consider contract or temp work. Working in a contract assignment might not be your long-term goal, but it does have many benefits, including generating income and remaining in the workforce. Additionally, your skills will be kept up-to-date – or you might learn some new ones – and you will have the opportunity to network and meet people who can help advance your job search. Many times, taking a contract position at a company will lead to another assignment or permanent position within that same company.
Celebrate big and small wins. As part of your job search, you will certainly have set goals for yourself – the number of networking meetings you will have each week, how many resumes you will send out per day, the hours you will dedicate to researching opportunities. Feel good about completing your objectives and find ways to celebrate your accomplishments. Go to Starbucks and treat yourself to a cappuccino, buy yourself a bouquet of tulips, or go hit a bucket of golf balls – congratulate yourself on meeting your goals, but don't lose momentum!
Find ways to de-stress. Although job searching is a full-time job, nothing is more important during your day than de-stressing. Stress can be palpable and you don't want to present yourself to prospective employers or networking contacts as someone who will crack under pressure. So, whether it's a morning yoga class or walking around the block, find what works for you and incorporate it into your daily routine.
Don't become obsessed with e-mail or voice mail. We've all done it – sent an e-mail (or in a job seeker's case, multiple resumes in response to postings found online) and then compulsively checked our inbox over and over to see if we have mail. The same thing happens with voice mail, IMs and text messages. There is no doubt that technology allows us to be ultra-connected, but it also can be frustrating when the level of responsiveness is not equal. The reality is you won't hear from every company you submit your resume to, so don't become obsessed with continual checking. Access your voice mail and e-mail a few times a day – and then let it go.
Hang out with your friends. This is not the time to shy away from your family and social circle or be embarrassed about your situation. During hard times, we should run toward our support systems and not away from them. People who care about you will love you for the reasons they always have – and chances are that wasn't because of your job. Having people around you that care will build your confidence and make you feel successful.
Remember you're not alone. While it might mean there is more competition for each job opening, knowing that you aren't alone in your plight should bring you some comfort. Seek out in-person and online networking and support groups to share your frustrations, successes and even leads. The more people you talk to, the more doors that will be opened and the more opportunities for you to be hopeful and successful.
Dave Sanford is executive vice president of client services for Winter, Wyman, a Waltham-based staffing company.