Even under the best of circumstances looking for work is difficult. Life as you know it has changed and your overall well-being is affected. After all, you've temporarily lost your income, your title and your role as a contributing team member. Moreover, unless you've switched careers a number of times in the recent past, much of the job search process is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Few people enjoy the aspect of selling themselves and fewer still are okay with the resulting feelings of personal rejection when your sales job falls flat.
So what can you, as a job-seeker, do to relieve some of the negative feelings and stress that are often such a major component of the process? Here are four key ways to help you boost your spirits and keep your momentum going:
#1 Avoid isolation. Getting out and about as much as possible serves a number of purposes. Since networking is by far the most likely route to your next position, you should be meeting people at every chance you get. There are several ways to interact with others and each of them could payoff by providing you with valuable connections as well as an added boost of confidence.
- Take a class in your area of specialty. You'll not only be building your skill sets, you'll have the added benefit of networking with your classmates and the instructor. Ask to meet briefly with him or her and begin the conversation with an open-ended question along the lines of: "I'm targeting positions in the field of XYZ. Do you have any advice or suggestions for me?" You're likely to get some useful information and, many times, even contact names that could prove extremely helpful.
- Become active in professional associations and groups relevant to your line of work. The contacts you'll make at these meetings are likely to have direct links to managers and other decision-makers in organizations where you'd like to work. Also, you'll have access to information and job listings that might not otherwise be available.
- Volunteer in a related field. The very act of serving others will raise your feelings of wellbeing and may lead you to unexpected opportunities and liaisons.
- Join a job search group. Being around people who are going through a similar situation will go a long way to lesson any feelings of isolation you may be experiencing. In addition, you'll have opportunities to share job search tips, exchange leads, and provide emotional support. Many such groups meet on a regular basis and supply what I term "compassionate accountability." Group members promise to perform a number of job search activities and are then obligated to report their progress at the following meeting. So, by joining this type of group, you'll be getting a combination of tips, support and motivation to move forward... a stress-busting combo for sure!
#2 Write out a financial plan. Worrying about finances during a job search can zap your energy and disrupt your focus. Rather than expending valuable time worrying about your expenses, make a list instead. Identify your necessary expenses: rent, mortgage, utilities, food, etc. Also factor in additional funds for non-essentials: clothing, transportation, recreation, etc. Then take the time to create a budget that will pull you through until you land your next position. Engage the family in this activity so that everyone knows where they stand and, if needed, this might be a good time to draw upon the services of a financial planner.
#3 Track your progress and make it tangible. One of the most frustrating aspects of looking for a job is the fact that you're expending vast amounts of energy--generally without seeing an immediate return on your investment of time and effort. Therefore, even the simple process of keeping a checklist is important. By tracking how many face-to-face contacts you've made, the number of emails you send out each day, or the amount of phone calls you've made can give you a sense that you are making progress.
It's also helpful to take a break from your search activities by doing a small chore where you'll realize a tangible result. Cleaning out your sock drawer or weeding a patch of garden may seem like simple busywork--but these small projects can boost your mood by providing a sense that at least part of your life is under your control. So give yourself regular opportunities where you can see immediate results and reap some tangible benefits from your labors.
#4 Finally, as much as possible, give yourself some TLC. For most of us, looking for work is right up there with learning you need a root canal. But by using these tips, you should find the process at least a little easier. Taking small, consistent steps and making certain to network as much as you can will help. So will getting sufficient sleep, eating right, and engaging in some form of daily exercise. And don't forget to give yourself small rewards on a regular basis.
After all, who knows? With a little luck and the right attitude, you might just find yourself landing a job before you'd expected. And returning to the ranks of the gainfully employed is most certainly a huge and welcome stress reliever!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Recently updated, it's packed with even more information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!