Michael was miserable in his job. It was his first job out of college, and while the actual job was okay, the work environment was terrible. He was constantly asked to complete tasks and projects that he'd never been trained on, was belittled and insulted by his manager, and had lost all confidence in himself. The daily grind wasn't worth it. He decided to look for another job.
And that's when COVID hit. Everything shut down, no one was hiring, and he felt trapped in his job. He felt like he didn't have the energy to conduct a job search.
And that's when his mom called me. She was a friend of a friend and wanted someone who would guide Michael through the job search process and rebuild his self-confidence.
Looking for a job can feel scary at the best of times. Add in a pandemic or an economic downturn, and you've got a recipe for job search depression. While you can't do anything about the pandemic and the economy, you can minimize your job search fatigue and stay positive during your job search.
Work the Fundamentals
When you're feeling like your job search just isn't working, it's important to make sure you're working the fundamentals. Looking for a job can be overwhelming and frustrating. You spend all your time searching for a job on employment or company websites, networking, submitting your resume when you find something, and then sitting and waiting for a response. You don't hear anything. You start to think that nobody wants to hire you. After a while, you just give up.
And that's how Michael felt. After a couple of weeks of not getting any response, he felt frustrated and gave up. Michael decided to settle for his current job even though he was miserable. The combination of a job he hated and lack of success with a job search left him feeling depressed.
The first thing I did with Michael is to get him focused on some job search fundamentals. Here's what I helped him do:
- Write a smart resume that puts him in the top 10% of job seekers.
- Create a LinkedIn profile that supports and adds to his resume.
- Put together a quick and easy networking plan - because if it's not easy, you won't do it.
- Pick out jobs and send in his resume.
Persistently working on the fundamentals over time is the only way to get the job you want. Once you're working the fundamentals, you'll feel like you're on solid ground and in control of your job search.
Polish Your Skills
Looking for a job can wear on your self-confidence. You either don't hear anything back at all, or you get a standard thanks-but-no-thanks response, and it chips away at your self-esteem. But there's a fix for that.
Learn a new skill or polish up a skill you already have. When you learn something new or learn to do something better, you feel a sense of accomplishment. You feel proud of yourself. You feel like you're making progress and that feeling of making progress boosts your self-confidence.
And it doesn't necessarily have to be a job-related skill. Michael decided to learn how to brew his own beer. He'd always been interested in craft beer and thought it would be fun. He was excited about brewing beer, there were lots of tutorials online, and it created a sense of accomplishment. It gave him the positive boost he needed to feel more optimistic about his job search.
Engage in Positive Self-Talk
From the second you wake up in the morning until the moment you fall asleep, you're having a non-stop conversation with yourself in your head. And unfortunately, it's human nature for most of that conversation to be negative. We tend to be far more critical of ourselves than we would ever be of a friend. And that negative conversation in your head can easily create a feeling that you just don't measure up to other candidates during a job search.
Michael worked on noticing when he was thinking or saying something negative about himself and immediately reversed it by either thinking or saying a positive statement about himself. If he caught himself thinking, "I'll never find a new job," he would immediately say, "I'm a great employee. Anyone would be lucky to hire me. Every day I'm one step closer to my dream job."
It sounds so simple that you're probably skeptical that it can work. But positive self-talk really can make a big difference and help you stay positive during your job search.
Connect with Positive People
Even during the best of times, everyone needs a little boost from a friend. Connecting with people during your job search who are encouraging, supportive, and upbeat can help you maintain a positive attitude. Avoid people who are always complaining, blaming others, and pessimistic. Listen to what the people around you are saying and if it's always negative, move away from that relationship and move towards more positive people.
Michael realized that a couple of his friends that he met for beers on Friday night would spend the whole evening complaining. They'd complain about their jobs, their girlfriends, and everything else in their lives. Michael tried steering the conversations in a more positive direction, and they'd still go right back to being negative. It had become a conversational habit for them. Michael pretended he wasn't available to hang out on Friday nights anymore and started having beers with a different group of friends who were more positive. He was surprised by how much difference it made in his outlook on his job search.
Do Something Fun
Sometimes you just need to take a break. Set your computer aside, get up, and do something fun. Something that you enjoy that takes your mind off your job search for a while. You're not abandoning your job search. You're not slowing down. You're just doing something fun to reenergize. Yes, there's something to be said for being dedicated to achieving a goal and persistently working towards that goal, but you need balance. If you're stressed and burned out from your job search, you're not going to make any progress.
Michael started playing basketball at the gym twice a week. On Tuesday and Friday nights, he'd play a pick-up game, and he was so busy shooting baskets and making new friends that he wasn't obsessing about his job search. Doing something fun cleared his mind, improved his mood, and as a bonus, his basketball skills were getting better with every game!
Michael worked the fundamentals for a month, kept a positive attitude and got a job offer at another company that was closer to home, and his manager supported and encouraged him. He was happy, and his career was back on track.
So, when you're feeling a little down about your job search, try using the tips that helped Michael. They worked for him, and they'll work for you too. And before you know it, you'll get the job you want.
If you have questions or need help with any aspect of your job search, check out the coaching options here, or shoot me an email here. Because looking for a job is much easier with a little help from a friend.
Valerie Hayes is an award-winning Human Resources professional who got her first job by out-interviewing her competition. Now she uses her experience from both sides of the interview table to help you get the job you want. She offers practical, encouraging coaching and advice that works. Contact Us to have Valerie speak at your online event or to book her as a podcast guest.