Tweeters, bloggers and columnists are united in emphasizing how important it is for people to develop and maintain a positive attitude during a job search. In fact, the consensus is that you’ll be more successful in your job search if you can stay positive.
My gang asks “how do I stay positive?” Several are depressed, and all feel at one point or another that this process of finding a new job is frustrating and seemingly endless. It’s really hard to have hope, and to just keep going.
We came up with some really practical suggestions for staying positive.
· Accept that it helps to be positive and to have hope. It’s like that experiment where you frown and see how you feel, then smile and see how you feel. It’s impossible to really smile and NOT feel happier. So choosing to look at the positive is a huge step.
· Vent your frustration and anger and fear and all your emotions. It’s normal to feel all those things. By expressing those feelings, you expel them from your body and take away their power. Your feelings no longer are pushing you around without your consent. And you’ve rid your body and soul of those toxic sentiments, that will grow stronger and become corrosive to your spirit if they are shoved down and left to fester. When your feelings are expressed and outside of you, you can either cast them away as no longer relevant or you can work with them. By working with them I mean seeing if the feelings indicate that perhaps you need to take a new or different action.
· Take a variety of actions. For me and for many job seekers, having many irons in the fire is a fantastic stress reliever and anxiety reducer. Work on putting together a great resume at the same time you’re checking the job boards for openings. Create a list of people with whom you can network and prioritize them, while you’re drafting cover letters that market you. Set up and go on networking meetings while you are applying for jobs. Create a great LinkedIn profile. Edit your resume based on new information. Look into consulting work while you are waiting to find the right jobs for you. Go to networking events. Take a walk. Grab your laptop and go to a local cafe that has WiFi so you can check e-mail or go on Twitter.
· Get out of your home! Isolation is the danger of being out of work. It is very seductive to turn on the television or sit at your computer all day. And that is usually what leads to depression. I know folks go to Starbucks and local coffee places at regular times, simply to have a routine. It happens that they then meet people in a similar situation, and networking happens naturally. One man I met is a writer who inspired me to really get into my blogging – in part because he overheard me helping others with their job searches. Because of him, I’m following my passion. The point is to stay part of the world. Seeing other people during the day helps one keep a positive attitude, which helps one persevere – and a job search is all about perseverance.
· Allow yourself to do things you really love to do. While it’s “a full-time job to look for work,” it’s also a rare opportunity to spend time pursuing a dream or exploring things that you thought might interest you but never had time to do. Allowing yourself to do some fun things does two things: 1) you have fun, which is always a good thing for staying positive; and 2) you may actually find that you could turn your hobby or passion into paid employment. One woman I know is now running writing workshops, after being laid off from a senior management consulting firm. She loves writing and decided to help others write, while making a little money. It’s a start of something that could grow bigger – or not. The point is she’s using her skills and following her passion while she searches for a job.
· Find a confidant. This is someone who can help you reframe things, keep things in perspective, and help you think through your process and any hard decisions. For many people, this is a career coach. For others, it might be a really good friend. The goal is to find someone who is willing to listen to your process and your venting, able to ask questions to help you establish your own priorities, and trustworthy enough to challenge your negativity.
· Be kind to yourself. Some days are just hard. That’s OK. Tomorrow you’ll feel different. Most of us are able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again (yes, you can break into song now). Sometimes, all we need is a little break from the grind of looking for a job. That’s good, normal, healthy to give ourselves. It’s nothing to be afraid of. The danger comes if you find yourself unable to get out of bed or make those phone calls or send those e-mails, no matter how hard you try. Those are signs of depression, and there are great treatments for depression. Doctors and psychiatrists are the people who can help you with those.
· Read about other people’s experiences as well as positive blogs, columns and tweets about job search. Reading can give you great ideas about what you can do, provide some perspective about what job search is like and what to expect, and get you outside your own head. It is a way to reduce isolation as well as to gain inspiration for taking that next step that WILL lead you to your next job.
· Trust that you will find a job. Because you will. The guy who wrote that great book What Color Is Your Parachute? (buy it!) says job search is like this: “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO….(on and on for a whole page of NO)…YES.” Eventually, you will find the right job for you. And it probably won’t be what you expected. You might have to make some major shifts along the way in terms of what you’ll accept, how you live, what you want. No matter what, though, you will get a job as long as you keep going, taking the next step.