How to stay motivated when you are looking for a job?
Following my article “Job search: my testimonial and advices”, I participated in a very interesting webinar that gave advice on how to stay motivated during a job search. The content was well presented, consistent and full of good advice. The reactions of some of the 69 participants in this webinar were interesting as well. These ranged from positive sounding optimism, to resignation which was brought on by a single point of view: constraints. Of course, in any situation, there may be constraints, but there is also what we call the ‘zone of influence’.
A job search is a marathon
Let’s then focus on our zone of influence, and not waste energy on constraints. Constraints are time-consuming, of course, but they should not hinder our motivation and burn our energy. First, let’s keep in mind the main aspect of the job search: we are running a marathon. And we cannot run a marathon if:
- we have never run before
- we are all alone
- we drank too much energy drink before the start (real experience!)
- we do not know the start and finish points
- we can only see the trees and we might run into or the rocks that might make us fall
- we stay in our pyjamas all day.
However, we can run a marathon if:
- we train
- we help each other
- we know our strengths and weaknesses
- we evaluate the limits of the constraints and influence zones
- we know the finish point and we go there with joy and optimism
- we build our path, day by day
- we have the right gear and the right shoes
- we keep up our motivation.
To stay motivated over time, let’s share our ability to network, contact, meet and exchange every day. The goal is not to contact someone so that he/she finds us a job, the goal is to have access to the network of our network.
Motivation also comes from interactions with others. These interactions are like a seedling, which will grow and develop, and each developing branch allows us to expand our network. The farmer’s approach. Building relationships with people we do not yet know takes time but can be useful throughout our career. And when one of these people contact us for a job, our motivation takes a big leap forward.
60% of positions are filled by networking, not by applying to ads.
This is what should motivate us to maintain our network over time. The farmer and the marathon.
Another key factor is that it is impossible to stay motivated at home by sending the same resume to 10 or 20 companies every month. One of the constraints mentioned by some participants in the webinar on motivation is that we have a ‘must do’ list of job searches, for the unemployment office. However, a job search can be a meeting, a phone call, or sending a message to a former colleague or friend to explain what we are looking for. Most of the time, this kind of approach contributes to our motivation. A meeting leads to a phone call, or someone sends me an open position that I had not seen. So, a search becomes motivating.
Networking is motivating
While most of the time, networking contributes to our motivation, some experiences are not conclusive. Twice, I wrote to former colleagues and I was very disappointed; colleagues that I worked with every day for years did not even reply. This was disappointing. What if one day they in turn need me?
I also met a former colleague at the lake, we had tea and she sent me two interesting jobs offers that I had not seen. I also contacted former colleagues, my colleague’s husband, my colleague’s friend, my colleague’s colleague, a friend’s friend, etc. and they all responded and helped me. Each time, my application hit the mark. I sent it to a company, it was seen, read, passed on and I got a response, a phone call, a connection request — and that is motivating. Do not hesitate to solicit others.
Staying active is staying motivated
Each day look for something that will motivate you: a new idea, a person to contact, something new to try. It is very motivating to wake up in the morning looking forward to doing something: yoga, a walk, coffee with someone, trying a new recipe, cleaning out a closet to get rid of old papers, reading the newspapers, etc. Make an action plan, including:
- sports, arts, crafts
- vocational or other training
- courses on art or other subjects that interest you
- books and articles to read
- people to see
- things you never had time to do when you were working
And keep it evolving. Your action plan is ongoing, just like your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn page and network.
Motivation is a state of mind
It is not motivating to send the same resume over and over and never get a response. It is motivating to spend time on an application to write a new paragraph and receive a phone call. It is not motivating to tell yourself that today you must make three offers. It is motivating to say to yourself that it is a beautiful day outside and that as soon as I have made my three offers, I will go for a walk (how lucky! those who work cannot do that).
Motivation is a state of mind.
There are also all kinds of tools to structure your job search: courses, webinars, videos to improve your resume, your LinkedIn page, your network, coaches, agencies. Do not hesitate to use them. Use mind mapping to structure your job search project. After being employed, being totally free of your days is scary. Learning to structure them helps.
Motivation is a mindset
Life is made up of encounters, activities, and new things. Get out of your comfort zone, reach out to others. Change some habits and develop good ones, one by one, at your own pace. It takes 2.5 months to change a habit. At night, recap what was motivating in your day. Plan what you will do in the next few days. Go to sleep with motivation for the next day.
Thanks to Christine Billy, Marion Mathais, Elias Hedjaz and Alexis Monnier. I used some of their ideas for this article. English version reviewed by Nev Taylor. This article was published in French on joHdi. Original title: “Comment rester motivé quand on est en recherche d’emploi”.