Job-hunting can be tough. You go for one interview after another, only to get that dreaded “we regret to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful” phone call or email. And for first-time job-seekers, the search can be even harder as you go up against candidates with more skills and experience. So how do you stay motivated and not let the job-hunting blues get the better of you?
“Staying motivated is a challenge – and when you get demotivated, you’re more prone to anxiety, depression, and stress. The important thing to remember is that while unemployment rates may be high and the job market is tough, it’s not impossible,” says Johannesburg-based counselling psychologist, mentor and career counsellor Thabile Adams, who recommends these 10 tips to keep positive.
(1) Evaluate and adapt the way you’re looking for a job
Accept that the process takes time, planning, research, persistence, skills and using the right tools. Start by asking yourself these questions to work out if you’re really hunting or simply just applying for jobs?
- Am I putting my best foot forward? Take a long, hard look at your CV and Cover Letter and ask yourself if it is interesting, relevant, clear and error free?
- Am I emotionally invested (how badly do I want this) in finding employment? How many hours per week have I dedicated to my job search? How many applications have I completed each week? (Career consultants suggest that you need to apply to at least 20 jobs in a week, not one or two per month, to create more opportunities for yourself to land that interview.)
- Am I following up on applications? And how am I keeping track of my progress?
(2) It’s easy to get de-motivated!
- If you lose sight of your goals. Keep focus by putting a plan into place with daily or weekly milestones to help you get there.
And ask yourself:
- Where do I see my career in the short and long term?
- How do I plan on achieving these goals?
- Have I mapped out a different route should things not go according to plan?
- Am I aware of the financial costs (faxing, emailing and postage of applications) involved in achieving a set goal, so I can save for them if needs be?
- Will I have to make any sacrifices to get there – and am I prepared to make these sacrifices? For example: Am I prepared to take a downgraded job to get where I want to be in the long term?
(3) Don’t dwell on the job opportunities you didn’t get
- This will only drain you emotionally. Set yourself some time to be disappointed – but then let go and move on!
(4) Focus on empowering yourself
- With further skills and experience you can make yourself more employable. Volunteer, take more courses – just don’t sit home and feel sorry for yourself.
(5) Do things differently!
- This means putting yourself out there by contacting companies directly and telling them about yourself and what you can do for them. Participate in events in your community, network with people in the industry you’re interested in or start your own business.
(6) Employers select the ‘best candidate’ for the position
- If you weren’t selected, it could simply mean that the job wasn’t right for you – not that you weren’t right for the job.
- You’re not being rejected when you don’t get a job. The truth is that you were just not selected, not rejected – two very different things.
(8) Learn from your experiences
- Build bridges for the future. When you receive another ‘regret–not-rejection’ letter, kindly thank them for considering you and ask for feedback on where you fell short so you can work on these areas for your next interview or application. Each interview can offer career-enhancing tips for your long-term growth – use them!
(9) Stay confident & optimistic
- Even if you have to force yourself to pretend to be confident and optimistic in the beginning. When you become demotivated, you begin to stop trusting in your abilities and may even begin to question your achievements. Don’t fall into this trap. Focus on your strengths and determination to achieve your goals.
(10) Celebrate any call-backs!
- Even if you didn’t get the job it means your CV is saying the right things, and you beat out tens if not hundreds of other applications to be considered for the post.
“Finally, remember that you’re not alone,” concludes Adams. “The trick is to turn the job search process into an opportunity to teach yourself new skills, network – and to get creative in the face of obstacles you might face.”
Thabile Adams is based in Alberton, Johannesburg.