Beating the Job Search Blues
Q: When I first started looking for a job, I had energy and
confidence. Then depression seeped in as time went by. How do I
get through the rough times without letting them get to me? How do I
keep protect my ego when rejections pile up?
A: Wouldn't it be great if we could bottle enthusiasm and take a
swig when we're really thirsty!
My 30+ years in career counseling have convinced me that a job
search magnifies emotional highs and lows. An invitation for an
interview may evoke euphoria, while a rejection letter can result in
a three-day depression. Rational behavior often goes out the window
when you feel vulnerable and at the mercy of others.
Fortunately, you can tame your emotional roller coaster by regaining
control and structure in your life. Like the exhausted parents of a
newborn, remind yourself the sleepless nights (joblessness) won't
last forever. It's a temporary condition. If you work on living one
day at a time without pining for the past or obsessing about
frightening future, you’ll feel a lot better.
If you can’t stop worrying, schedule 30 minutes each day to examine
your anxieties. Evaluate why they are bothering you and develop
techniques for dealing with them constructively. For example, if
money is a real concern, work out a careful budget for making it
last, alert your creditors about your situation and/or find a
part-time or temp position to provide added income. Think of
alternatives to keep yourself fed and clothed until you’re employed
again. If you confront your worst expectations and determine how to
deal with them, they will lose their power over you.
Worrying about past performance is useless. If your last interview
was a disaster, chalk it up to experience and move on. Focusing on
mistakes is only worthwhile when you learn from them. Endless
rehashes of, “This is where I dropped the ball,” will only reinforce
the likelihood of a repeat performance.
Be sure to plan fun activities. Often
job seekers believe they must spend more energy on their job search
than is appropriate or healthy. While search may be your job at the
moment, don’t put yourself on overtime. Knock off work in the
evenings and weekends, or you are likely to burn out. An evening
with supportive friends will do more for your morale than one spent
poring over Monster ads.
Imagine how great you will feel when you find the right position.
Many experts in goal setting say visualizing your objective is the
first step to achieving it. The Secret, “People get what they
expect,” is certainly true for job seekers. Write an affirmation,
post it on your mirror or carry it in your wallet and read it three
times a day. Savoring past glories can encourage you to press on for
the job you really want as well.
Check your step-by-step game plan. Does
it use contacts effectively, or is it relying mostly on want ads and
resume campaigns? Are there any other avenues you can explore to
find leads? A little conceptual blockbusting alone or with friends
can rejuvenate a flagging spirit.
Creating a weekly structure can give you more in control of your
life. Having no place to go in the morning can be depressing
start. Join a job club (job seeker's support group). Volunteer for
a cause that’s important to you. Meet a friend for lunch. Walk your
dog. Paint a room. Workout. Taking action always beats sitting
around, unless you’re reading a great book.
If you reel with each rejection, use the approach IBM teaches its
sales people. Their records show that for each 10 customers, they
close one sale. Each “no” will bring you closer to a “yes.” Don't
base your future on one potential position. Continue to generate
possibilities until you receive a bona fide offer. People waste
precious weeks waiting for one job that doesn't materialize when
they could be pursuing opportunities that will.
Finally, if you are really exhausted,
give yourself time to relax and regroup. Take a weekend vacation in
a favorite spot, read motivational books or articles about
successful people who have overcome adversity, cheer up a friend who
is worse off than you, meditate, clear your mind, make a list of
Our current job market is a tough one,
but it will pass. The booms and busts always do.