You’re most likely familiar with the challenge of staying positive during this time.
I’d say this is a common experience all job seekers can relate to.
Why? Because you face many impacts when you’re embarked on a lengthy job search.
These impacts lead to frustration and anxiety, if you think about them too often. You’ve noticed this, right?
Thing is: you can’t let these feelings take over. You must do what you can to stay positive—even in unemployment. It’s a necessity.
Principles for a Positive Job Search
So, in this article, I’m providing 10 principles for staying positive (in attitude and outlook) throughout a lengthy job search process. They’ll motivate you to keep your head up and move forward, despite the ups and downs of a prolonged job hunt.
1st Principle. Reflect On Your Attitude Because It Matters.
How do you feel about your present situation?
I’m asking because I want you to understand something: your attitude matters in unemployment. No matter what you face on a daily basis, you choose how you respond to them.
Let me emphasize please! You choose how you respond to everything you face.
You can choose to walk around negatively or positively.
Upbeat or sad.
Toxic or kind.
Whatever you choose, you must remember it’s a choice within your area of control. Your attitude choice influences how you handle your job search.
When your job search drags on, it’s easy to walk around with a bad attitude.
Thing is: a bad attitude makes it harder to deal with unemployment. A positive attitude, on the other hand, makes it easier to deal with unemployment and move forward in this transition.
I encourage you to evaluate your attitude for adjustment. Are you constructive or destructive? Positive or negative?
Evidence of a negative (or destructive) attitude includes:
- Believing you’re a failure because you’ve failed to land a job.
- Thinking you’ll never secure a job offer because you haven’t secured one so far.
- Believing no employer will accept you because all you get are constant rejections.
I know the following from my experience with unemployment:
You become a positive person when you focus on the positive things in your life—including your job search. And, you live your life regardless of the job you lack.
Evidence of a positive (or constructive) attitude includes:
- Believing you’ll secure your next position, regardless of how things look right now.
- Being courageous and facing the challenges of unemployment and your job search. Taking action where you can.
- Believing this is temporary. Believing every day brings the possibility of change, so you must keep going.
3 Ways to Adjust Your Attitude:
- Improve Your Self-Talk. There’s a lot of inner dialogue going on daily. But, a lot of these thoughts don’t add anything valuable to your job search. So, it’s important to pay attention to your self-talk for improvements where necessary.
- Stay away from negative influences. You’re aware of the negativity surrounding unemployment and long-term job seekers. But, you shouldn’t let this negativity influence you. Stay away from negativity every day, if you can.
- Nurture Gratitude. I talk about gratitude a lot because it’s an important (and healthy) practice. I’ll discuss it again here in Principle #2 below.
2nd Principle. Nurture a Grateful Attitude.
A grateful attitude is one of the best attitudes you can nurture throughout this time.
Why? Because it’s all about focusing on the good things in your life and giving thanks to God for them.
Nurturing gratitude is a choice. It requires intention daily.
If you’re deciding to practice gratitude, then I must warn you of something:
Practicing gratitude isn’t easy.
Some days, you’ll focus on your circumstances and won’t feel like giving thanks.
This is why it’s important to recognize it’s a choice. You can still give thanks when you don’t feel like it.
When you think about it, though, is complaining better? If you think it is, then please check out Steven Parton’s piece explaining how complaining mentally and physically kills.
Ways You Can Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude:
- Take a Mental Recount. Stop and think about everything you’re thankful for today. Express Gratitude.
- Keep a Journal. Write at least 3-5 things (for starters) you’re thankful for daily. Give thanks.
Research shows: practicing gratitude increases happiness. So, why not give thanks?
Sample Things You Can Be Thankful For:
You don’t earn a steady paycheck right now, but you have life, health, and shelter.
You interviewed and didn’t get the job offer. But, you have an education, knowledge, and skills.
When you look for good things, you’ll find them. And, when you do, please don’t take them for granted.
3rd Principle. Take Care of Yourself.
Finding a job is challenging. An even greater challenge is taking care of yourself throughout this time.
But, this is important because it results in less stress, frustration, and anxiety.
This gives you to energy needed to search for your next position. It also allows you to maintain the positivity you need to push through this process.
I listed 11 strategies for taking care of yourself while unemployed in a previous article. A few included:
- Seek Solitude. Getting away from your TV, laptop, telephone, or any other digital device is a great way to take care of yourself. Solitude allows you to reflect and refocus.
- Stay Physically Active. Whether you run or clean your home, either activity positively affects your overall health and well-being.
- Tickle Your Funny Bone. Laughter is good for you. Research shows how laughter positively affects your immune system, blood flow, and sleep.
These 3 activities alone give you more energy and positivity in a lengthy job search.
If you’ve been ignoring your health and well-being, then please make the necessary changes.
If you don’t take care of yourself, then how can you take care of your job hunt activities?
4th Principle. Develop Patience Because You Need It.
It takes time to land a job these days (35 to 40 weeks average, according to CareerBuilder), so developing patience is a requirement. If you’re not patient in this process, then there’s no way you’ll move about positively.
Instead, you’ll move about miserable and full of complaints. You’ll also want to give in to discouragement because of the lengthy wait.
These are natural responses. However, I learned: a patient response is better.
And, if there’s ever a time in life to work on your patience, then it’s while looking for a job. You must wait for everything in the job search:
Job leads and opportunities, follow-ups, interview requests, and acceptance notices (when you get them).
You have no way of finding out where your next position will come from. Or, when your circumstances will change.
Perseverance requires patience.
With patience you:
- React to things out of your control in the process, without allowing anger or agony to overpower you.
- Learn and improve where you can, without beating yourself up.
- Push through discouragement and self-doubt, without giving up.
I must note: pursuing patience in the job search requires a mental change. You must believe you’ll see the outcome of your efforts at some point, though you don’t see it now.
5th Principle. Believe You Are Worthy.
You already know: you can do everything right in the job hunting process and still not land the job nowadays.
There are times when you question your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Altogether, you think something’s wrong with you.
I know because I’ve mentally been there. The doubt in an exhausting job search is real.
Rejections and disappointments leave you feeling like you’re the problem.
You wonder if you said something wrong in the interview.
You wonder if something’s missing from your resume.
You wonder if your personality is a problem.
Truth is: although you’ve failed to land a job so far, nothing’s wrong with you. There’s an opportunity for you somewhere.
It’s just taking you some time to find it.
Please don’t allow an extended job search to drain your confidence. You must believe you’re worthy of a job while looking for a job.
Don’t lose sight of your ability to bring something of value to prospective employers.
Here’s a Challenge for You: If you think something’s wrong with you, then I encourage you to challenge your belief. Believe you’re worthy of a job opportunity.
From there, you can do the following:
Evaluate your job application material and strategy.
Make improvements where you can.
Put forth your best efforts.
The rest is out of your control.
6th Principle. Keep Your Job Search in Perspective.
Here’s something I learned the hard way: you can’t focus on your job search all the time.
It’s hard to keep it together when your job search dictates your life. When it tells you to stay near digital devices so you don’t miss out on job opportunities.
This isn’t healthy.
In previous articles, I’ve shared how consumed I was with job hunting initially. I was always checking for postings and e-mails because I didn’t want to miss out on anything.
I tortured myself over submitted resumes and applications. Not literally.
But, I always thought about jobs after applying for them. I always questioned whether I’ll hear back from those employers.
And, while I was on it with scouring opportunities, submitting applications (including resumes and covers), and questioning whether I’ll hear back from employers, I was also neglecting my health and well-being.
Don’t do what I did. If you have been doing this, then please don’t do so any longer.
Perspective Is Important. You must keep the right perspective in this process. You must understand there’s more to life than looking for a job and limit your job search activities.
Engaging in a 24/7 (i.e., limitless) job search won’t make you productive. It won’t make you efficient either.
You see what happened to me, right?
You must balance everything in a healthy way.
The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll plan and take breaks. This allows you to do things you enjoy, such as:
- Take a walk.
- Spend time with family.
- Read inspirational material.
In no way am I advocating a slack in your job search efforts. You desire a job and must do all you can to get one.
But, at the same time, you need time from your job search tasks to regroup. You also need time to focus on other areas of your life: family, plans, and hobbies, for example.
You’ll increase your positivity ratio upon realizing there’s more to your life than your lack of a job.
You’ll keep your sanity too. Believe me!
7th Principle. Move Forward After Job Rejections (i.e., Not Getting Jobs).
How many times have you heard “don’t take rejection personally?”
Too many, am I right?
Well, here’s some good news. I won’t say it here.
Why? Because I’ve taken rejection personally in my job search.
When you’ve put forth your best efforts, how can you NOT take employment rejections personally? They hurt.
Here’s what I will say, however: you shouldn’t respond personally to these rejections.
Several employers won’t accept you, and it’ll sting. But, you must bounce back from job rejections and move forward.
4 Ways to Move Forward After Employment Rejections:
- Correct Your Identity, If It’s Mistaken. Rejections hurt more when you define yourself by your employment status. Your value doesn’t decrease after an employer rejects you.
- Watch Your Self-Talk. Negative thoughts creep in when you receive a rejection notice or silence from employers. Pay attention to these thoughts. Capture and align them with truth so they don’t bring you down.
- Seek Constructive Feedback. It doesn’t hurt to ask for feedback after interviewing. If you receive any feedback, you can improve and make changes where necessary. Additionally, you can seek resume feedback (if you haven’t already) for improvements, if you’re not hearing back for interview opportunities.
- Move On. Don’t beat yourself up over things not working out with some employers in the hiring process. If an employer doesn’t want your valuable services, then you move forward until you find someone who does.
Employers have preferences when it comes to hiring candidates. There are many reasons why employers reject job applicants and candidates.
But remember: their choices don’t define you. So, whatever you do, don’t let them weigh you down.
8th Principle. Trash the “Shotgun” Approach, If You’re Using It.
You know what I mean, right?
Here’s the thought process: “I’ll apply to as many jobs as I can, and hopefully I’ll get a job offer from one of them.”
I know you want the opportunity to get your foot in the door somewhere, but this isn’t a good approach. At all.
While I encourage you to remain flexible and open-minded, “applying to any and every job”—without taking note of the requirements—isn’t effective. This strategy does nothing to improve your chances of landing a job faster.
What it does, however, is waste your precious time. It also saps the precious energy required to apply for jobs you really want.
What To Do Instead: Bring intentionality into your employment search.
- Identify companies of interest and research them.
- Identify jobs you can perform based on your knowledge, skills, and abilities.
- Prepare targeted resumes, cover letters, and applications.
- Submit your job application materials to identified companies.
From my experience, the targeted approach takes more time but is more effective. It also increases your chances for interview opportunities.
What does this have to do with staying positive?
Well, with this “shotgun” approach, you don’t focus your energy on the best opportunities for you. And, the sting of rejection is the same – even when you’re mass applying for jobs.
9th Principle. Build Your Skill(s) Through Something of Interest.
Building (and improving) your skill(s) through a project of interest is another way to stay positive. When you learn new skill(s), you grow professionally—and personally.
And, there are benefits: learning a new skill makes you smarter and happier. It also energizes you.
These skills can possibly help you find in a job in a new field. You never know.
Take time figure out what you’re interested in and want to learn.
Make a commitment to learn.
From there, you learn.
Several ways to learn something new include: reading articles, books, blogs, journals, and website; watching videos; listening to podcasts and audios; using the Internet, and freelancing.
Then, you must put these skills into practice daily. This is how you see progression in your learning.
How to Learn a New Skill: The Harvard Business Review has an article entitled, How to Master a New Skill, by Amy Gallo. Check it out, if you’re interested.
10th Principle. Never Lose Hope.
Do you struggle to believe you’ll see the other side of this unemployment transition?
Do you feel discouraged and overwhelmed while looking for a job?
Do you feel like there’s nothing but darkness surrounding you?
I thought I’d have a “good” career and prepared academically. I never thought I’d have so much difficulty landing a traditional job.
When your wait is long, your mind wants to lose hope of things working out. It wants you to believe this is the end for you.
But, it’s not.
Your unemployment situation will be over in due time. You must press through to see the end. Don’t stop moving forward.
If you’re interested in building, rebuilding, or maintaining hope, please know:
- Hope requires faith. You must believe everything will work out for you. With faith comes the persistence to keep pressing.
- Hope helps you focus on the positive, good things in your life. You can foster a positive outlook on life – even in challenging times – with hope. My hope, because it isn’t in me or this economy, is an anchor while transitioning through unemployment.
- Hope can be built, rebuilt, and maintained by reading inspirational material. It helps when you feel all hope is gone. It’s also encouraging and motivating.
Illustration: In my case, for example, not losing hope in a long job search process led to the creation of this blog. And, the creation of this blog is leading me into a professional direction I’d never before considered.
Remaining hopeful is one of the hardest things to do some days. I know.
But, I encourage you to never lose hope. And keep exploring every legitimate opportunity available to you.
I’ll admit: it isn’t easy to maintain positivity when your job search drags on longer than expected. But, without staying positive, it’s harder to push through this process.
It doesn’t hurt to improve your outlook, if you find it difficult to stay positive in your job hunt.
I’ve given you 10 principles for evaluation. If they work for you, then don’t hesitate to make them a part of your lifestyle daily.
P. S. Do you use any of these principles to stay positive while job hunting? Do you plan to put any of these into action, if you don’t? I’d love to know here.
Disclaimer 1: This article contains outgoing links to the works of others on the following websites: the Pew Research Center, Psych Pedia, Harvard Medical School, Web MD, The New Yorker, and the Harvard Business Review.
Disclaimer 2: I am not an HR or Career Professional by training. When I write on job search topics, I write from the perspective of a job seeker with experience in job searching.