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How Do I Stay Motivated During My Job Search?

Q: "A recent layoff put me in a job search mode again. The last time I looked for a new position, it was really hard to maintain my motivation. Do you have any tips on what I can do to stay positive and productive?"

A: A job search can be an emotional roller coaster. One day you feel like you've conquered the world. The next you can crawl under a snake with your high hat on! Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to temper the low moments and focus on finding your next position. Below are some techniques my job-seeking clients think are particularly useful.

  • Before you start looking for a new job, put together an ideal job description. Then concentrate on finding the closest real-world match. Don't waste your time on unsatisfying, "just OK" opportunities.

  • Develop a systematic approach for your job search. Determine the appropriate activities and approximate employment date. Then schedule things to do each day to advance your objective. Being able to cross items off your daily to-do list will provide tangible rewards on the way to your ultimate goal.

  • Try using word or picture affirmations to keep your brain thinking positively. Imagine yourself acing an interview, accepting a job offer or managing an exciting project in your new position.

  • Plan time to nurture yourself. When your career is in temporary disarray, it's important to focus on satisfying activities such as your hobbies, time with people you love or a great book. Most of us play many roles. Concentrating on the ones you most enjoy will lift your spirits and remind you there's more to life than a job.

  • Ask your friends and family for their support. Suggest specific ways they can help you conduct a successful search, from praising your capabilities to editing your resumes.

  • If you currently have no volunteer commitment, find one. Fulfilling the needs of others can raise your self-esteem, remind you of how lucky you are and offer potential networking opportunities. You never know whom you might find working beside you at the regional food bank.

  • Join a job club sponsored by a local church or professional organization. Teaming with other job seekers will help all of you stay motivated and expand your network.

  • Work with a career counselor or attend a job search workshop. You can identify a good career counselor through the International Association of Career Management Professionals (www. Many colleges and universities hold seminars for job seekers through their continuing education divisions.

If you must throw an occasional pity party for yourself, set aside an hour to wail and gnash your teeth, then have at it. Periodically purging negative feelings can be truly rejuvenating.

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