What’s the most difficult part of looking for a job? It’s not preparing the job search materials. It’s not networking or even interviewing. It’s staying motivated in the face of rejection.
No matter how qualified you are, in today’s competitive market, encountering rejection has become an expected part of the process. It’s not unusual to submit application after application, only to hear nothing back. That is particularly true for remote workers who oftentimes must tap the job boards for far-away opportunities rather than rely on traditional networking.
All of us start the job search energized. A new job offers a promise of new possibilities. It’s exciting and optimism abounds when you think of starting a new chapter. But when the search drags out longer than planned, you need to proactively think of strategies to keep going.
Like in life in general, you will have good days and bad days. You are in the flow one day. Perhaps you received some good news – a recruiter responds to your application, your resume is picked by the hiring manager and a phone screen is set for next week.
Then, suddenly, there is a delay. The phone interview has been postponed and you have no indication of why. Your follow up e-mails to the company contact are met with radio silence.
How to stay positive? What can you do to keep up your efforts when you are tired, distraught, or frustrated?
Keep the Long View
When you have put your best foot forward, prepared, researched the position and the company, and made sure your application communicates your passion and fit, yet there is no forward momentum, you may feel discouraged and hopeless. It’s not unusual to begin to question yourself and your desirability as an applicant.
It is easy to find yourself going down this rabbit hole of negativity. But stop. While uncertainty can breed all sorts of pessimistic thoughts, it is important to take the long view. A job search is inherently unpredictable and its outcome, whether positive or negative may have just as much to do with luck and timing as with your fit and qualifications.
The truth is that you never know the real reasons for why your application may not advance and those reasons may have nothing to do with you. While yes, the company may have chosen to go with a more qualified external candidate, it’s just as likely that your application was held up because the company extended its hiring timeline. Or, possibly, you were being considered alongside an internal hire, who ultimately got preference. After all, studies show that as many as 80% of positions get filled internally or through a referral.
Ultimately, it’s important to realize that it’s never personal. Company hiring decisions are a result of many factors and are not necessarily a reflection of your strengths as a candidate.
Seek Family and Friends for Support and Encouragement
If you’ve been searching for a while, you may start to feel isolated. Sitting at home or at the café or even attending networking events with hundreds of strangers can be a lonely experience. While you may be connecting with others, you aren’t necessarily in relaxed mode.
Which is why you must find an outlet for relaxation with people who know you well personally, and to whom you can confide in. Getting a weekly lunch with a friend or grabbing a beer with an old colleague can go a long way to helping you unwind.
It may also help to connect with others going through a job search, so you can bounce ideas off each other and keep each other motivated.
Take a Few (or more) Days Off
Taking a vacation may not be the first thing on your mind when job searching. You may be eager to find a stable opportunity and want to spend as much time as possible dedicating yourself to the hunt. After all, it’s a well-known adage that “finding a job is a full-time job.” There are also financial considerations to think about. Should you be traveling or would it make more practical sense to wait until you are gainfully employed?
It’s easy to rationalize away the thought of getting away. Yet, that is precisely what may be necessary to re-energize your search.
Getting away does not have to mean taking a trip across the world to a remote island where you will bask in the sunshine for days on end ignoring reality. Although that does sound nice whatever your situation!
A simple couple of days away could be all that is needed to clear your head. Changing surroundings and putting yourself in a new environment typically has a positive effect on one’s psyche. It can stimulate the brain to think of new creative solutions to problems. At the very least, it will provide a necessary break from the hum-drum of daily searching and give you an opportunity to re-focus and re-energize.
Don’t Stop Exploring Opportunities
You’ve sent out dozens of resumes, connected with recruiters and networked with company contacts. And you have a couple of warm leads. Perhaps you are even farther along in the process with a couple of rounds of interviews under your belt. Things may be looking up.
You are hopeful you are reaching the end and a job offer is only a matter of days away. Then, again, nothing but crickets.
Your optimism has carried you this far, so you continue to hope for the best. This is your dream company and the role is perfect – it has to work out!
What is the biggest mistake you can make at this stage in the process?
It is to wait. It’s to stop researching other opportunities. It’s to give over to the hope that your dream job will surely materialize.
Yes, it’s tempting to halt your job search efforts when you feel that you’ve built momentum with your company of choice. And there is nothing wrong with thinking positively. After all, positivity got you this far!
Yet, sitting around waiting to hear back may not always work out as you imagine. And in the (unfortunately all too common) case of your job lead going cold, it is best to hedge yourself from the negative outcome by continually moving your search forward.
Keep applying, reaching out to contacts, and going to as many networking events as possible. Keeping the wheels spinning will not only help you stay balanced, but will eventually lead to a place where you’ve always dreamed of going. And when you arrive you will know without a doubt you’ve come to the final stop.
About the Author
Natasha Kosoff is a certified career coach dedicated to helping others build fulfilling careers aligned with their true passions and strengths. She believes that all of us have unique skills and talents and the power to create and live our best professional lives.