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Six Ways to Stay Positive During a Difficult Job Search

Rejection, especially in this job market, is an unavoidable reality. You won't win every time. It's okay to be disappointed, for a minute, but set a limit and move on. Part of job search success requires self-evaluation. It's important to recognize the possibility you might be doing something wrong and, if so, to be open to positive change.

If you've been on the hunt for awhile and you feel like you're getting nowhere, consider asking your recent interviewers and peers for constructive criticism. Be prepared for the sugar-coated version, but at least you will gain some perspective on what you may be able to change for future interviews.

I find the most frustrated job seekers are those who walk blindly through their job searches. Recruiters and hiring managers are keen at sniffing out those with chips on their shoulders. Not being aware of negative feelings or the inability to control emotions throughout a difficult job search process will quickly send a job seeker to the depths of job search hell, and we all know that is not a pretty place to be.

I know it's easier said than done, but keeping your chin up and sending out positive vibes throughout every step of an interview process is critical to your success. Here are 6 ways to stay positive during your job search:

1. Take responsibility for your happiness.

Too often we let other people determine our happiness. When you let a potential employer, or anyone else for that matter, control your feelings, you'll never end up very happy. Happiness, bitterness, or frustration are all choices. How you decide to react to any situation in a job search is up to you. Many issues in life you won't have any control over. The key is knowing what is within your power (yourself) and what is out of your hands (everyone else).

2. Reward yourself for the small successes along the way.

Celebrate when you get a phone interview or second-round interview. Okay, it's not a job offer, but it's a step in the right direction. Even if you aren't selected for the job, it means your resume is communicating the right things to a potential employer.

3. Find a job search partner and surround yourself with positive people.

Networking should play a huge part in your job search, however, if you find yourself surrounded by "Debbie Downers", find another group! This goes for a job search partner, too. While finding someone to talk to who's in the same boat as you and who understands the frustrations is very helpful, make sure you help keep each other motivated and positive.

4. Set goals. Get up and get out.

Don't allow yourself to sleep in and lounge around. Take your job search seriously and search every single day. Set daily goals and track your progress so you have a good idea of where you are heading. Setting a job search schedule will give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.

5. Find time to do things you enjoy.

Keeping your life balanced will help you stay positive and keep things in perspective. Explore a new hobby. Catch up on your reading list. Eat right and exercise! Stay engaged with your family and friends.

6. Consider exploring a cause you are passionate about through part-time volunteer work.

Not only can volunteering lead to possible job leads and new connections, but it's a good way to add structure to your days and feel like you are contributing to a positive cause.

How do you stay positive when life gets you down?

Photo credit: Wavy1
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4 Comments - Add yours!

Staying Positive « Power of the Six Strip (April 27th, 2009)

[...] out this post from Lindsay Olson about staying positive during a “difficult job search,” as she puts it. Lindsay [...]

Thomas (April 28th, 2009)

On a related tangent: Do you think it is worth responding to rejection emails?

What I mean is, are these letters simply to be considered a polite termination of the hiring/recruitment process, or can one actually assume that the hiring manager/recruiter may actually be interested in considering one for “future positions.”

Monique Dinor (April 28th, 2009)

This is a really great blog entry and so incredibly helpful. I agree that you have to stay positive and take control of your own happiness, especially in these tough times. Thanks so much again for this Lindsay, I really appreciate all you do.


Matt Cheuvront (April 29th, 2009)

Great advice here – It is extremely important to set personal goals and celebrate (even the small) victories. It’s hard to remain optimistic right now, as the job market is pretty brutal, but a positive attitude and persistence will go a long way.

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