Searching for a job is—how should I put this—not always the most pleasant experience. Especially if you’ve been at it for a while, the whole process can feel discouraging, disappointing, and like you’re drowning in a deep sea of negativity. And rather than send out yet another resume, it seems easier (and more fun) to gripe about how unfair the process can be. (And, trust me, I hear you. It’s definitely not a flawless process.)
But, as you probably already know, none of this is particularly helpful in landing a job.
As a career counselor, I actually see this happening all the time—particularly for job seekers who have had a rougher experience. With my most disheartened clients, conversations always start with frustration and slowly wind down to desperation.
But the truth is, there are plenty of things you can do that will help with your job search. One trick I’ve learned while meeting with clients is to guide the conversation back to something more constructive by asking, “What are some things you’ve been doing right during this job search process? Tell me about them and take it from the top.” Shifting the conversation to things that the job seeker is doing that are clearly working—and within his or her control—is a very effective way of pulling a client out of his or her pit of despair and back on track.
Lucky for you, you don’t even need a career counselor to do this. If you find yourself getting discouraged as you’re crafting a cover letter or following up on an informational interview request, take a step back and write out all the things you’ve been doing right for your job search. Have you gone to networking events or reached out to relevant contacts? Are you working on a side project that’s helping you realize what you’re passionate about? Maybe you’ve been extremely diligent in conducting company research before interviews. While none of these things are the same as having an offer in hand, each step does bring you a little closer to your goal and should be acknowledged.
You can do these little mental checks as needed or even every day—whatever you need to stay driven. It might sound silly, but it’s incredibly important to celebrate these little victories and to give yourself credit for plugging along. Even a slight uptick in your optimism will go far in your networking meetings and interviews (and believe me, the people you’ve been sharing your job search trials with will certainly notice a difference).
Nothing could be more important in your job search than keeping your spirits up. So, the next time you sense your motivation slipping, ask yourself, “What have you been doing right?”
Photo of sticky note courtesy of Shutterstock.
Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author