The first few days and weeks of a job search are exciting. Thoughts of new possibilities and your new goals fuel a level of activity you haven’t seen in years.
Then, one day, it isn’t fun anymore. Networking has become a chore. One more phone call and you’ll pass out. An informational interview? You’d rather jump in a cage with a tiger. Rewrite your cover letter for yet another application? You’d give up chocolate first.
You’ve hit the wall. It happens to most of us. The novelty wears off, and we’re left with the day-to-day drudgery of the search.
So, how do you get back on track? How do you change boredom and frustration to motivation?
1. What inspires you?
Most of us have something that fills us up again. If you don’t know what that is for you, now is a good time to find out. It might be music. If I am dreading something, I can often turn that around by listening to some upbeat music. (I might even dance, but I usually don’t admit it.)
For some, it might be an inspiring story or movie with an uplifting and positive outcome. Maybe, it’s talking to someone who is encouraging and enthusiastic. Something spiritually healing like prayer, meditation, or worship can be especially effective. Find a couple of things that help you turn around your attitude and use them.
2. Take a break
I write a lot, all day most days. When I hit a block, my first impulse is to try harder, work longer, do more, and it usually fails miserably. Instead, I’ve learned to take a walk or ride my bike. Getting some physical activity and letting my mind go in another direction seems to give it a rest and allow the juices to flow again.
It doesn’t really matter what you do. It might be taking a few minutes to call a friend, bake brownies, or run an errand. The risk is that the phone call takes 2 hours or you spend the rest of the day running errands, so you have to treat it like a break from work, not a day off.
3. Find a new perspective
Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you‘re right.” Sometimes, all it takes is to find a new way of thinking about what you’re doing.
Not long ago, I was resenting the time I spent making meals every day. I needed to be working, I thought, and cooking just wasn’t profitable. All I could think of when I cooked was what a waste of time it was. Then, I exchanged some recipes with a friend who is a nutritionist. I became very interested in high-nutrient cooking and decided to do more of it. Suddenly, I am enjoying cooking again. I have a new approach and a new, healthy reason for spending time cooking. What turnaround in perspective could you make that would revitalize your search?
4. Challenge yourself
For some folks, it’s all in the game. Can you make more calls today than you did yesterday? Can you increase your interview ratio? Keep your stats and see how much your game improves.
5. Learn something; teach something
Often, the key to renewed interest is new information. I’ve been in the career field for about 15 years, and I still don’t know everything. Chances are there is a book, Web site, or webinar that could offer you something to learn that could spark your interest.
I’ve never learned so much as when I’ve taught something. Perhaps you have experience and expertise to share with others who aren’t as far down the path.
6. Pull out the brag book
Read your resume. No, really. Read it. I know you’ve been rewriting it for weeks, but now I want you to take it out and study it. Remember each detail of each accomplishment. Relive the moment. Feel how proud you were. Smile. Who was with you? Did you celebrate? If not, now is the time.
7. Partner up
Find a friend or acquaintance in the same predicament and agree to hold each other accountable for a certain amount of work per week. Call at a set time to check on each other. Just be sure not to turn the call into a gripe session. Talking about how awful it is to look for work can get the frustration off your chest, but if it goes on too long, it will bring you down. Be sure to turn the conversation to goal-oriented planning.
8. Bring in an expert
If you’ve tried everything you know, and you’re still feeling stuck and uninspired, it’s time to bring in the big gun. That’s me. Have Resume Will Travel. (For those of you too young to remember, Have Gun Will Travel was the slogan used by Paladin, my dad’s favorite Saturday night TV gunslinger.) Contact me right away, and we’ll get working on the turnaround for your job search.
Photo credit: Courtney Dirks via Flickr