Job hunts can be exhilarating and exhausting. If you’ve started to search for a different role, you’re on the heels of an exciting new chapter. This can take some time, and it can be even harder in today’s market where certain roles are becoming increasingly competitive. Making big moves to a new company or industry can also set up a long-term job hunt. Here are 6 ways to stay encouraged to keep moving forward.
1. Do Some Diagnosing
Take a step back and spend some time diagnosing what your discouragement is really about. Is it taking longer than you expected to find a role you like? It might be worth level-setting your expectations on timeline and revisiting with some mentors and trusted colleagues to talk about how long they think the search might take. For many expert industries and senior-level roles, it’s not uncommon for months of networking and casual interviews to go on before you work your way to a firm offer.
Are you discouraged to find that you’re less competitive for roles than you hoped? In these instances, it pays to solicit some honest feedback from interviewers wherever possible. The last thing you want to do is keep throwing resumes at a job you’re not a top fit for. Knowing what skills you might need to take a step back and build could actually save you time in the long run.
2. Get Honest Feedback
Sometimes not getting discouraged is about not repeating the same mistakes that put us in the same outcome. When I was on an almost year-long job hunt, I came out of countless interviews thinking I had done pretty well, was reasonably a good fit for the job, and ultimately… super discouraged after never getting that final “offer” call.
It wasn’t until I took a really structured feedback approach with a trusted senior mentor that things started to shift for me. We did a mock interview, went over the job descriptions of the last five jobs I’d applied for, and talked through my background and aspirations. They were able to highlight that I was really incorrectly interpreting a few job descriptions in the industry I was trying to break into, and their insider knowledge completely changed the types of roles I started to apply for. Without this guidance, I would have had no idea I was sending myself into repeated dead ends.
Granted, this can be a big ask of a mentor, so you might even find it worthwhile to invest in professional services in your area if you’ve been on the hunt for a while. A hunt that’s not resulting in an offer means that something on some level is out of alignment — skills, applications, resumes, expectations. The faster we can get honest feedback and redirect our efforts, the faster we can find the right fit for us.
3. Revisit the Corners of Your Network
Ever heard of an eigenvector score? It’s one of my favorite nerdy words, and if yours is high, it means you have really interesting contacts across industries, demographics, and other categorizations. We all have edges of our network that are a little outside of our normal working world, and strangely enough it’s really where the magic can happen when it comes to job hunt-related networking.
Instead of scanning the normal recruiters, expert senior leadership, and favorite companies you’re dying to work for, scan the outer edges of whatever you consider your personal rolodex. Pick someone who you’re sort of connected to that works somewhere you have zero interest in working, in a job you know nothing about. Share an article about their industry, ask them to coffee, or encourage them to share their story about how they got doing what they do.
This will have a couple of outcomes. Because they’re unlikely to be able to be an immediate degree of assistance to you, you’ll have really authentic conversations about navigating career journeys. You’ll also get access to a whole new network of people you might not expect, because this person is outside of your core “web” of contacts. And while it sounds cliche, you truly never know who people know. Challenging yourself to question who in your network is “helpful” when it comes to a job hunt can refresh our perspectives in discouraging times.
4. Change Your To-Do List
If you’re working away at this regularly, chances are your to-do list looks the same each time you’re on the hunt: tweak resume, check job board, call a recruiter or contact, send a few emails, etc. This can get extremely mundane and routine, diminishing the impact these tasks can have on your hunt. On the days you’ll throw something through a window before you can stomach sending another “New Opportunity” email, add something more substantive to the list.
Maybe today’s job task is to watch a talk on executive presence. Or it could be to attend a professional networking event in an adjacent profession’s line of business. It might even be to go back and read old copies of performance reviews or school projects to reconnect with some of your achievements. Freshening up the tasks on your list gives your brain new ways to work on this goal and diffuses the drudgery.
5. Book Blocks of “Job Hunt” Time
If you’re hunting for a new job, it’s a pretty omnipresent feeling (even more so if you’re under- or unemployed). When I personally survived a stretch of that time, it was hard to not allow it to be every waking thought that sneaks through. And sometimes it was even harder to let go of feeling “guilty” if I wasn’t spending any spare hour doing something to further my search.
In all reality though, we’re setting ourselves up for failure with this structure. Your interview muscles, job hunting brain cells, and over-achiever instincts need to get wound down every once in a while to be at their peak performance. I found that batching job-search-related tasks for big blocks of time did a lot to improve my psyche, instead of the feeling of constantly chipping away at little things.
6. Reconnect with Your “Why”
On days it’s hard to hang in on the hunt, revisit what you’re in it for. Bring in the larger perspective of how your efforts will either help support your family differently, give you a new intellectual challenge, or allow you to demonstrate greater leadership.
Revisiting your “why” might also take some honest questioning that if a job change isn’t essential, you might be able to achieve your why through other means. Is it time to start a business to grow your income and take on a new challenge? Do you need to revisit how your current job could be retooled for remote work or ported to a new city? Sometimes we get blinded to the idea that a new job will solve all of the problems in our working lives and beyond. It’s worth checking in with your “why” to see if there are other ways you can meet the nudge for newness.
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