Job search can be a rollercoaster ride, from the thrill of a forthcoming interview to the letdown of losing out on a job to another ‘more qualified’ candidate. Sometimes weeks, months – even a year or more – pass and you’re still sitting, glued to your computer, wondering when your resume submission will spark interview glee. What do you do when job search stagnation sets in, and the glimmer of hope starts to fade? Here’s a look at five ways to help get your job search energized.
1. Phone a Friend. While you may feel the threads are bare and that you have no right to use that lifeline yet again, do so. But this time, don’t call to kvetch about the lack of opportunities and your unlucky situation. Instead, invite them over for coffee or for movie night. Fetch your favorite romantic comedy, adventure, suspense thriller or whatever is your preferred DVD distraction and immerse your mind and soul. Reconnecting on a more joyful level while also distracting yourself is healthy personally and for your career. Often your mind comes up with the greatest solutions when it is at rest.
2. Volunteer. If you aren’t already doing so, volunteer your time and be visible to a possible new job connection. Physically leave the house to do this. Research local chapters of your professional or industry association. Start with Job-hunt.org’s Directory of Professional/Industry Associations. Find a local professional chapter; call the president; attend the next meeting. The Directory includes a variety of specialized categories to help you to narrow down your search for career and employment links related to your particular industry, profession or group. In addition to the other benefits, volunteering can be a great stopgap in your resume, providing concrete evidence that you are still contributing professionally.
3. Visit the Library. Another way to bolster your search while also disengaging from the confines of your 12×12 home office is to go to the library or to the local Starbucks or Panera Bread Company. The point is to change your environment – regularly. In Alison Doyle’s article, “Get Job Search Help at the Library,” she describes how libraries provide many other resources for job seekers beyond job search- and career-related books. Libraries offer job search and computer classes as well as computers with Internet and email access; some even offer stress-reduction classes like yoga and meditation. The simplicity, the order, even the aroma of a library has appeal for some who simply need calm outside of the storm that often swirls around you at your home.
4. Revise Your Plan: If you do not already have an action plan with specific accomplishment goals and deadlines for your job search, create one now! Even if you are weeks (or months) into the search, it’s never too late to develop this plan. Use a separate notebook. If you must, computerize these ideas but then print them out from time to time and tick off tasks and milestones; scratch top-of-mind notes in the margins. Drive traction through these actionable steps, and you’ll make more progress.
5. Be Willing to Change. Most of us have a propensity to get stuck in our ways and unwittingly resist change. In job searching, this resistance may manifest itself by refusing to improve your resume story; resisting to join social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are “silly” and “wasteful uses of my time”); or picking up the phone to make a cold call regarding a job opening. Make a change. Hire a resume writer or career coach or attend a local job search event to help you reframe your value proposition—you may be turning hiring decision makers off with your current, lackluster message. Listen to what others suggest and apply it to your job search. Sometimes the smallest changes can spur the biggest improvements.
If your job search ship seems anchored to bedrock, you can remove that weight and free your thoughts and emotions, creating momentum. Even if the changes to your current strategies feel unnatural and uncomfortable at first, you won’t regret switching things up. While trying something new may require several attempts to achieve results, keep trying. It takes only one right opportunity to align with your preparedness to turn your situation from “job seeker” to “employee!”