Everyone who’s ever looked for work knows: preserving one’s job search self-confidence can be difficult.
You may do all the “right” things: valiantly like getting up early, researching positions, networking and writing thoughtful cover letters. But long stretches without any positive feedback or signs you’re getting close to success can put a dent in your spirits.
While statistics on higher depression rates among the long-term unemployed are well documented, don’t let yourself become a statistic. Stay upbeat! Most employers prefer to hire workers with a positive outlook.
To keep your confidence high, follow this 12-step guide to bolster your job search self-confidence:
Work Your Body
Release your stress with movement that gets your heart rate going. (Think endorphins.) Focusing your mind on what’s good for your body will keep job worries from infiltrating your every waking hour.
Bonus: Set small, achievable goals that will make you feel more in control while you’re waiting for your resume and cover letters to “land” with the right person.
Do for Others
Volunteering can help put your problems in perspective. The options are endless: Take books to the homebound. Walk dogs at a pet shelter. Become a Big Brother to an underprivileged kid. Doing something meaningful for someone else may help reset any self-pitying scripts running through your head.
Bonus: If your volunteer gig helps you build new skills or improve on any old skills, it could even be a resume builder.
Explore a New Hobby
Do you dream of writing the great American novel? Would you like to catalog your ancestry? Or learn the craft of jewelry making? There is no time like the present. And the same creative process used in many hobbies can actually help you think more creatively in your job search.
Take Yourself on a Date
Reserve a day every week or two to reward yourself for all the hours you’ve put into your job search. Go to the beach or take a mini-road trip. Do a little retail therapy. Budget tight? Catch the new movie everyone’s talking about or go for a hike that offers a serene setting and perhaps a different perspective.
Undergo a Makeover
Have you been sporting the same hairstyle or putting on makeup the same way for longer than you can remember? A new look can boost your confidence. Now, there’s even an app for trying out new hair colors. If you’re feeling frugal, think of ways to subtly change your look without spending a penny. Change the part in your hair to the other side. Borrow a friend’s sweater or sports jacket. Do something even a little different, and watch your job search self-confidence blossom.
Catch Up with Friends
Chances are, you’re tired of having to tell people you’re still unemployed. But once you move past the inevitable questions about your job search, your friends can be a great diversion from combing through job boards. Friends don’t let friends stay jobless. With any luck, your friends will provide you with a lead. Or introduce you to a colleague looking for someone with your skills.
Tackle a computer program or beef up on the foreign language you haven’t used since college. Master the skills listed in all those job descriptions you don’t already have on your resume. If you have money set aside, expose yourself to different cultures by taking the opportunity to travel.
Join a New Group
Joining up with a new circle of people will get you out the door and broaden your network. Whether it’s a social group that bike-hops to new tapas venues or a group of activists taking on a social cause, mingling with new people will keep your social skills sharp. Not the social type? Join a new LinkedIn group or Facebook community and make new virtual friends.
Embark on a TV Series
Escapism isn’t always bad. And let’s face it, if you’re not up on Game of Thrones or Better Call Saul, you can feel socially deprived. But beware the urge to binge-watch if it encroaches on your work (seeking) hours. Be disciplined, but appreciate the diversion.
Visit Your Favorite Family Member
Who among your tribe believes in you the most? Is it that great-uncle who knows, without your telling him, just what you’re going through? Or a younger sibling who still looks up to you no matter how many rejections you’ve accrued? Spend time with those who love you and can nourish your soul.
Redecorate Your Digs without Spending Money
Now that you’re “working” from home 24/7, change up the décor. Move your furniture around or switch out artwork or photos. Throw out your clutter or donate it to charity. Keeping your external space fresh can also refresh the space inside your head.
Keep Yourself on a Tight Schedule
The best way to stay on track during the job hunt? Treat the task of looking for a job as a real job. Devote a few hours each morning to your search. Then, fill your afternoons with some of the activities described above. When you know you’re doing a great job of job-seeking, your self-esteem will automatically improve.
Don’t let yourself become a victim. Don’t let bitterness or desperation creep into your mindset. Try each of these twelve tips… and keep your job search self-confidence high!
Vicky Oliver is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks 2005), named in the top 10 list of “Best Books for HR Interview Prep,” and 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions (Skyhorse 2010). She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media source, having made over 700 appearances in broadcast, print, and online outlets. For more information, visit vickyoliver.com.