Career Advice, Insights

What to Do When Your Job Search Gets You Down

Unhappy housewife sitting near the window

Fact: “A job hunt is often draining because of all the judgment and rejection that can be involved before you actually secure a job offer,” says career consultant and host of the Career Relaunch podcast Joseph Liu. Think about it: every dead end, every no, every unanswered email — it can feel like you aren’t good enough for that or any job. That kind of destructive thinking is enough to make anyone sulk and stop searching.

“A lack of progress with anything can be frustrating, but job hunts can be especially demoralizing because it’s hard not to take things personally,” Liu continues.

But there are better things to do than sulk when your job search takes a wrong turn — things that will help clear your mind and give you the energy you need to go after that dream job. Here are a few ideas.

1. Stay Active

According to Matthew Kerr, career adviser and hiring manager at Resume Genius, “part of the reason we become depressed during a job search is because we lack a sense of purpose.” By staying active — whether that means joining a workout class, playing a sport or participating in a hobby — you can prevent getting the blues. Plus, “it will make you feel like your life has meaning beyond having a job, and reduce the stress that comes with worrying about the future,” says Kerr. “In turn, you will have a positive outlook when searching for jobs and sending applications.”

2. Create a Daily Schedule

A job search can be overwhelming simply because of the fact that you may feel you always have to be on the lookout for places to apply. But instead, “treat your job hunt like a job, and clearly define the hours of the day you devote to job hunting,” Liu recommends. “Carving off specific hours helps you compartmentalize your job search and avoid negative outcomes from spilling into your entire life.”

3. Take a Break From Social Media

“When you’re already in a tough situation, going on social media and seeing everyone else’s seemingly fantastic lives is just going to exacerbate your false feelings of being useless,” warns Kerr. So, consider suspending your social media accounts that aren’t integral to your job search — perhaps Facebook and Twitter — or cut back the hours you spend on them. Not only will the break be good for your spirit, it’ll be good for the search itself. “Social media is a huge time sink when searching for a job,” Kerr points out. “It’s easy to become caught up in using social media for hours, when you know you should be updating your resume. Staying away from social media will help maintain focus.”

4. Solicit Candid Critique

You feel as if you’re putting your best foot — or as the case may be, application — forward, and yet, you’re not getting anywhere. If that sounds like you, it’s time to ask friends, family and colleagues for advice, says Liu. “If you’re not making any real progress over a long period of time, take some time to get an honest assessment of your job search materials or skills,” he says. “Seeking the input of a third party, objective mentor or trusted coach can help to illuminate a flaw in your approach so you can quickly rectify it.”

5. Diversify Your Job-Search Tactics

Have you ever heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Well, you may just be driving yourself insane if you aren’t diversifying your job-search tactics. “Create a portfolio approach to your job search so you don’t just focus on one way to find jobs,” Liu advises. “For example, if you’re just applying to jobs on job boards, try to focus instead on networking. If networking hasn’t worked, perhaps try to connect directly with some relevant recruiters who specialize in the sector you’re targeting.”

6. Remind Yourself: You Will Find a Job

“When a job search is taking a long time, people tend to fall into a mindset where they feel like they will never get a job,” says Kerr. But it’s not true. You will find a job, and it’s imperative you talk to yourself in a positive way. “All hardships come to an end at some point — and reminding yourself there is light at the end of the tunnel will give you the strength and energy to keep going,” Kerr says.

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