In It for the Long Haul: How to Stay Focused and Motivated
When Your Job Search is Taking Longer Than You Expected
For many people, the prospect of seeking out a new employment opportunity and embarking on a new professional path can be an exciting rite of passage. Understandably, many job seekers jump into the employment hunt full of high hopes and optimism.
All too often, though, the reality of the job search process turns out to be a bit different than we pictured it. One of the most common problems that job seekers report is finding out that landing a suitable position takes longer than they had initially expected.
Research conducted by employment search firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas in July 2007 found that the average job search duration was just over three months. Longer average job searches were reported by workers over 50 and those seeking higher-ranking positions.
Learn to Expect -- and Accept -- a Longer Job Search
Most job seekers already understand that a successful employment hunt can take time. This is especially true if your search criteria are unique or non-traditional in any way. For example, people who are conducting a long-distance job search or those seeking to make the move into a new field or industry are particularly likely to encounter a few setbacks along the way.
But even when you have factored the possibility of an extended search into your job hunt plans, the reality of a longer-than-expected job search can be disappointing, to say the least. As the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months, the sense of optimism and confidence that propelled you forward in the early stages of your job search can start to slip away.
If you're stuck at this discouraging stage in a drawn-out job search, don't despair -- you're not alone. Here are some tips that will help you stay focused and motivated in the midst of a longer job search.
If you've been taking a casual approach to your job search, tighten things up a bit. Use spreadsheets, tables, and other tracking tools to chart your efforts carefully. Note the date each application packet was sent, the responses received (if any), and the dates and methods you used for follow-up. Attacking your job search with a more formal battle plan will help you attain a renewed sense of control over the process.
Don't hold out for a big post-hire celebration. Reward yourself for the little triumphs, too. After several months of sending out résumés, you deserve recognition for each day you check off all of the job search-related items on your to-do list. Plus, setting aside some time for rewarding activities like watching a movie or going to your favorite bookstore will help you blow off some steam.
Seek out networking opportunities.
One disadvantage of the 21st century job search is that it can be isolating. Most of your days will probably be spent in front of the computer, scrolling through page after page of job posting and composing dozens of application emails. This may not only make you feel lonely -- it may also cut you off from one of your most important job-search resources: your network. Make sure to keep in touch with your work friends and colleagues, and make time to get out and meet new people in your field whenever the opportunity presents itself.
If all else fails, retool your strategy.
Critically analyze your performance so far and identify any shortcomings or problems that may be holding you back. If interviews seem to be a stumbling block for you, do some research and pre-planning before your next sit-down. Suspect that your résumé might be sub-par? Considering hiring an expert to help you revise it. If you can’t pinpoint the problem, consulting with a job search coach or a résumé guru may give you the fresh perspective you need to be able to jump back into the job search process with renewed optimism and confidence.