You spend every second of your free time weeding through different job descriptions. You’ve written so many cover letters and polite follow up emails that you literally become nauseous at the thought of having to author another one. You’ve even clinched interviews—you just can’t seem to actually land a job.
Trust me, I know that a seemingly never-ending job hunt is enough to knock the wind right out of your sails. And, it can be difficult to remain chipper and upbeat when you’re on the receiving end of rejection email after rejection email.
But wallowing in your own self pity won’t help your case. So, as tough as it might seem, here are five tips for staying positive when your job hunt is dragging on and on.
1. Focus on Improving
When you feel like you’re bombarded with an endless barrage of “thanks, but no thanks” messages, it’s only natural to start to feel a little down about yourself. Before long, you become convinced that you’re utterly worthless, unskilled, and unqualified.
But don’t beat yourself up. Instead, focus on the areas of your job hunt that you can actually refine and improve. Have you been blanketing the world in a resume that needs a little work? Is your LinkedIn profile a bit outdated? Do you have a personal website or portfolio that you’ve neglected? Use your spare time to knock the dust off and ensure these items are in great shape.
Polishing up these important pieces is not only an awesome confidence booster and a reminder of the value you provide, but it can also help improve your chances of actually landing an interview and position. Sounds like a win-win, right?
2. Explore Your Options
Instead of looking at this frustratingly slow period as a hindrance for your career progression, why not choose to look at it as an opportunity? Now’s your chance to explore different career options and find what you’re truly interested in, rather than continuing to apply for positions in the hopes of landing anything. When all is said and done, you still want your next job to be one you enjoy—not just one that pays the bills.
So, contact a few people in your network to set up informational interviews. Talk to one of your professional contacts to find out about a potential job shadowing opportunity. Or, sign up for a class at a local college or community center to dive into a skill you’ve been meaning to pick up or refine. (Or, even better for couch lovers, sign up for a free online class.)
Use this time to test out and learn different things, because exploring new interests is never a waste of your time. On that note:
3. Volunteer Your Time
I get it—it can be tempting to either spend all of your time looking for more open positions or sitting on your couch feeling sorry for yourself. But, if you’re currently unemployed or have some extra free time, go ahead and put yourself out there to volunteer for a worthy cause.
Volunteering is a great idea for a few reasons. First, it presents an opportunity to network and meet a few new people—something that never hurts when you’re job hunting. Plus, volunteer work looks great on your resume and shows that you’re willing to find productive uses of your time outside of the office. Finally, making a positive impact and contribution is a surefire way to lift your spirits.
Identify a cause you’re passionate about, and donate a few of your evenings or Saturday afternoons. Sure, volunteering is technically free—but you might be surprised with the payoff. (See what I did there?)
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4. Take Care of Yourself
When you’re so wrapped up in your job hunt, it’s easy to let basic—yet important—tasks and routines fall by the wayside.
You don’t want to fall victim to this trap. So, remember to place some emphasis on taking adequate care of yourself. Ensure that you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet. Make time each week for exercise and physical activity. Go to bed at a decent hour.
I know that these might seem like unimportant things. But, when it comes to being alert and maintaining a positive attitude, they’re absolutely crucial. After all, you already know that your 2 AM bedtime and your diet that consists solely of Taco Bell and chocolate pudding don’t really make you feel too wonderful.
5. Enjoy Some Downtime
You know what my grandpa used to tell me when I was unemployed right out of college? “Relax,” he’d say. “Think of it like retirement. Most people work 50 years to get where you are right now!”
And, while he had a reputation for being a bit of a jokester, his point actually does hold some water. If you’re currently job hunting without having another 9-to-5 filling up your day, you might as well enjoy having a little bit of free time.
You know how you always said you wanted to try a pottery class, but could never find the time? Sign up for one today. Remember how you wanted to start reading more? Now’s the time. You’ve been meaning to master the perfect pie recipe? Here’s your chance.
Sure, you may not be able to travel the world, especially if you’re currently unemployed—because we all know that presents some financial limitations. But, those other things you’ve wanted to do for an eternity, yet never managed to make the time for? Think of this as your golden opportunity!
Yes, surviving a job hunt that seems to drag on for ages is undoubtedly frustrating. And, there might be days when you feel so low that your favorite sweatpants, Netflix, and a tub of cookie dough are literally screaming your name. I’ve been there.
But, as tough as it might seem, it’s important to keep your chin up and continue moving forward. So, try a few (or all!) of these tips in order to stay positive—and make the most out of your seemingly eternal job search.
Photo of man writing courtesy of Shutterstock.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author