The longer a job search takes, the easier it is to shut down and simply go through the motions. Being out of work can take a toll on your self-esteem yet, while it’s perfectly natural to feel disappointed and discouraged, it is vital to remain positive and engaging in order to make a good impression. Recruiters and hiring managers can sense a job seeker’s frustration, negativity, and desperation. A bad attitude during the job search is a definite red flag to anyone looking to fill a position. Though difficult to stay positive after weeks or months of job seeking, simply being aware of the negativity and trying to focus on the positives can improve any job search. By keeping a schedule, managing your expectations, and making an effort to keep your confidence high, you will be able to avoid the physical and emotional exhaustion that is job search fatigue and you will be prepared to make a positive first impression when the right job comes along.

Keep a Schedule:

It is hard to adjust to having excess free time when you are used to working a full-time job. Having too much time to think can lead to a spiral of negative thoughts, and often includes a loss of focus, motivation, and even purpose. The best thing you can do to avoid this negativity is to create/keep a regular routine. Treat your job search like a 9-5 job: wake up at your normal time, eat properly, take a lunch break, and end your ‘work day’ before dinner. Keep your job search organized by making a list of specific objectives that you would like to achieve each day. By focusing on these small, achievable goals, you will feel more accomplished throughout your job search. Fill your to-do list with manageable items such as: apply to X number of jobs, follow-up on applications you have already sent, attend a few job fairs, and build/maintain your network, but also set aside time to read trade journals, business magazines, and newspapers. Spend time learning more about your particular industry to keep your knowledge current and plan to utilize this information in your next job interview in order to give yourself an advantage over of your competition. Checking items such as these off your to-do list will help you to track your progress and will give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.

Setting a clear starting and ending time for your job search also forces you to stop thinking about your job search in the evenings. Excessive worry about a prolonged job search is not good for your health. By taking your mind off of the search, you will allow the tension and stress to dissipate, and you will be able to start fresh the next day with a clear mind. Some people will find positivity through spiritual means, or with the help of family, friends, or colleagues; while others will find that any form of physical exercise will help to re-energize and motivate them. Volunteering is also a fantastic way to add additional transferable skills to your resume while continuing to build your network. Regardless of what you choose; whether it be a hobby, sport, or volunteer opportunity, find time to do something you enjoy. Keeping your life balanced will help you to keep everything in perspective.

Manage your Expectations:

It is perfectly normal to feel a range of emotions when going through a career transition. Allow yourself to have an occasional ‘bad day’. The current job market is fiercely competitive and, though it is disappointing to receive a rejection, it is unrealistic to expect that every job for which you apply will be a success. If you feel yourself worrying about something that is out of your hands, find something that you can control. You cannot control if/when an interviewer will call you back, but you can discuss the hiring process and directly ask when you can expect a response. If you do not receive the response you were hoping for, cross that job off of your list and move on. Change the way your measure success by focusing on everything you achieve each day: congratulate yourself for making a new networking connection, be proud of yourself for getting a phone interview because it means that your resume is communicating the right things to potential employers, and remember that a second-round interview is a step in the right direction. Celebrating the small successes along the way will help to enhance your energy and keep you focused on the overall goal.

Build your Confidence:

Staying positive is not going to be easy; in fact, it can be the hardest job search technique of all. It can begin to feel pointless and artificial; attempting to stay positive and failing can even make you feel worse. But for the sake of your future career, it is critical that potential employers see your motivation and enthusiasm. Make a list of your best qualities, skills, and accomplishments. Remember what makes you a successful job candidate and a talented, unique individual, then use those skills and that knowledge boost your confidence during the job search process. The more you try to learn from the different challenges you face during your job search, the more positive and authentically optimistic your outlook will become.

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