Career Advice

Don’t Give Up! Tips To Keep Your Spirits Up During A Long Job Search

The economy sucks. Despite governmental best intentions, the unemployment rate was holding steady at 9.1 percent as of May 2011. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (and they should know), the total number of unemployed Americans has reached 13.9 million. The group categorized as “long-term unemployed” (or jobless for more than 27 weeks), increased by 361,000 to a whopping 6.2 million.

Unlike the golden ‘90s, when anyone with a half-decent education and a little experience could have a new job every week if they so desired, it’s now not uncommon for even extremely talented individuals to spend months unemployed. So what’s a former business dynamo to do when the job search stretches from weeks to months? The simple answer is try to stay positive. While it’s only natural to wallow in misery for a while, you have to climb out of bed, shower, and consume something other than hard liquor eventually. When you do, it won’t hurt to try a few of these tips.

Begin by never assuming the worst. The economy isn’t great right now. We’ve covered that. You need money to pay the rent, put food on the table and buy deodorant. However, being laid off or experiencing an extended period of unemployment does not automatically mean you’re going to lose your home, starve to death or have to forgo personal hygiene. Your next job could be right around the corner. It could even be better than your last job. However, you have to believe it. You’ll do what you have to do, if the time comes to do it, but you don’t have to resign yourself to taking a lower paying job, switching industries, moving cross-country or living in a box quite yet.

Get out and network. Many people hate the term “network.” Sure, it may mean talking to people you’d never otherwise talk to about things you’d never otherwise talk about, but it can pay off when you’re looking for a job. While you can connect with other professionals on sites such as LinkedIn, nothing beats chatting up potential employers or business contacts face to face. Join a professional association; attend a seminar or even a trade show. Isolation is rarely good for the spirit. These activities will get you out of the house while you’re making potentially valuable contacts.

Find another way to earn. If your quest for a full time position is taking longer than expected, consider alternatives that will bring in cash while still allowing you to continue the job search. Freelancing or consulting is a viable option for many professionals. Sometimes freelance projects even turn into full time positions. Spend a few hours each day or week doing something that helps pay the bills and you may feel more in control of your situation.

Treat your job search like a job. This doesn’t mean you have to send resumes, make phone calls and network from nine until five. On the contrary, embracing the freedom you’re currently enjoying is one of the best ways to keep your spirits up. Sleep until noon if you want. Break all the dress code rules. Take a long lunch. Leave the bathroom door open. Type emails in your underwear. Surf those “restricted” websites. Spend an hour playing Farmville. Just make sure you set specific job search-related tasks for yourself each day. Then complete them.

You have skills that employers need. You will find another job. Don’t give up. It may sound cliché, but any psychologist will tell you that thoughts influence feelings. Keep your thoughts positive and your spirits will follow. – By Angela Rose, onTargetjobs