How to Remain Motivated During a Job Search
We all know how long and arduous the job search process is.
You apply for role after role, getting further away from your area of interest, only to end up with one reply out of fifty. It’s not surprising that after a few days dedicated to the job search – a full-time job in itself! – you feel like taking a (long) break to recover from your sense of rejection.
If you – like me – are a recent university graduate searching for your first job, then you are arguably in the most difficult phase of your working life. A degree no longer comes hand in hand with a career, and securing that first step on the ladder is becoming increasingly difficult: the competition is high, the job market unsteady, and the process – involving applications, questions, interviews, tests, portfolio samples (in short, everything but the kitchen sink) – long. Oh so long.
Even worse, after completing all these stages and convincing yourself that this time you have stood out from the competition, you don’t hear back. You never hear back. It’s frustrating, disheartening, and leaves you feeling hopeless.
But, whilst rejection is hard, it’s more important than ever to remain motivated. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you stay determined (rather than demoralised) during the job search:
After numerous job applications and few responses, you may begin to feel completely aimless, as though you’re wasting your time applying for jobs in your desired industry. One way to overcome this is to introduce new tasks and challenges so that you don’t feel quite so useless. Taking on unpaid work via an internship or placement is never a waste of time when you’re trying to get your foot in the door. Not only does it add some structure to your life, but also it helps you to build your CV, connect with more people, and add to your portfolio.
2. Part-Time Work
If you are looking for your dream role but can’t plausibly dedicate all your time to the job search because of your financial situation, then consider finding part-time work. Part-time work will allow you to earn some much-needed money, whilst still leaving you enough time to keep looking and applying to full-time roles of interest. This, again, tackles your feelings of self-worth as you will be able to tell yourself that you are keeping busy and developing transferable skills whilst also not giving up on your ambitions.
3. Be Thick Skinned
Accept the (hard) reality: rejection comes hand in hand with the job search. You are not going to get every job you apply for, especially when you’re looking for your first full-time position. The likelihood is that you won’t hear anything from the majority of applications you make.
Even if you do hear something, it may only go so far. I, for example, have been contacted by companies on receipt of my application asking me to write an article or an essay. On completion, I have never heard from them again. One time I wrote a piece for a company and was then asked what I expected for remuneration; after some research I settled on what would be the equivalent to minimum wage if charged per hour, and I was yet again met with silence.
Whilst being ignored after spending significant time trying to impress a company is tough (and frankly inconsiderate of the hiring manager overseeing the process), it has taught me that the working world is pretty brutal and made it very clear how essential it is to brush off rejection – and get on with applying for the next job.
4. Take a Break
If you are waking up and spending all day every day searching and applying for jobs, it is important to take a break. In fact, apply to too many vacancies in a day and you might risk reusing the same cover letter over and over (whether accidentally or – horror of horrors – intentionally). If you’re too tired then sloppy mistakes may start to creep in, too, such as using the wrong job title or mixing up the names of the employer or hiring manager. It is much better to apply for a few jobs each day, tailoring your application and really thinking about why you’re a good fit for the role, than to apply for a mass of jobs with vague cover letters. Remember, the tortoise wins the race.
5. Have a Distraction
Finally, make sure you dedicate time to seeing and speaking to your favourite people: your family, friends, or partner will distract you from the stresses of being unemployed. Just make sure they know not to keep asking what your plan is; additional pressures and unwelcome advice does not make for relaxing downtime. Instead, go out for a walk, play a board game, have a movie night, and forget all about your work situation so you’re fresh and enthusiastic for the following day’s job search.
And remember: you will be hired sooner or later, and once that first position is secured the jobs that follow should be easier to attain, so just keep pushing on!