In my experience, one of the hardest problems to overcome when unemployed is finding the motivation to stop being unemployed. It may seem a paradox, and it is, and still after yet another no, after being ghosted for the umpteenth time, after hearing and reading every day that there is a crisis, that unemployment is skyrocketing, that the pandemic alone costed X-thousand jobs lost, and so on, it‘s’ certainly hard to find the will to even scroll through the offers.
A trick to avoid losing focus is to treat the job search as if it were a job itself, this means you should give yourself rules to be respected even if and when you don’t feel like it. Which is what you’d do if you were actually working.
Here are 5 simple +1 rules to implement to stay efficient in finding a new job.
1) Be organized. Before anything else take some time to review, update, and refine your CV and cover letter. If it’s been a while since the last time you had to do that, do some research or ask your more experienced friends what’s trendy these days, when it comes to layouts and similar. My article about ageism and job-hunting may come in handy too, if you have a few more years under your belt, and you don’t want this factor to define you. Once you have done this, forget both your CV and cover letter for a couple of days, then finally do one last review and if everything looks alright, you are ready to go. Granted, it’s likely that when you actually apply for a job you need to customize here and there, but it’ll be an easy fix. The whole process will be fast and therefore less frustrating.
2) Schedule. A lot. And of course stick to your road map as if you were already (or still) working. Job searching can be an extremely time-consuming and tiring activity, it’s important and necessary, but at the same time it needs to be contained somehow. In short, neither relegate it to your spare time, nor turn it into an obsession. Plan to search for a job, let’s say, for five days a week, two hours every morning and two hours every afternoon. Or maybe six hours a day, twice a week, works best for you. Whatever your time frame is, make the most of it and don’t get distracted, so that you can dedicate yourself to family, education, hobbies without guilty feelings.
3) Build a network. This is a very important factor from multiple points of view, and pretty much in every context. Isolation never helps, but it works wonders to slow down even the most motivated people. Whether it’s Linkedin or a Facebook group, or your family and friends, let people know that you are there, ready for new opportunities. Offer advice and ask for it, try to find people who are experiencing your same struggles to find a new job (even better if in the same niche) so that you can support each other. It is very important not to be alone on this path.
4) Refine your technique. Don’t panic and answer to every job offer under the sun! Just focus on what’s really good for you. Choose your keywords carefully, save sites and portals that look promising and remember to visit them periodically. You may want to update the list periodically. It may also happen that some ads are short, simple and you need just one click to apply. Others are more complex and require long procedures, such as filling in endless forms. Save those for the time of day when you are most rested, but don’t let more than 24 hours go by.
5) Aknowledge your achievements. Stay positive and always remember that job hunting is not easy at all. Results may not immediate, don’t despair and be proud of yourself because you’re still trying. Also keep in mind that you’ll get better at this over time, with practice. Look at yourself now and try to detect what has changed since the first time you applied for a job. How much have you learned about the job market? How good are you now, at telling a real opportunity apart from a waste of time? How faster you scroll through the offers? Maybe you even know yourself a little better now, perhaps you noticed you have to work harder to correct some flaws, or you possess a commonly required skill you overlooked somehow.
+1) Whenever I needed to look for a new job or new clients, I wrote a short list of all the nice things I would do once I succeeded. I’m not talking about obvious, and slightly depressing things like paying taxes or fixing the plumbing. I’m talking about a vacation, or a new dress, or meeting new colleagues and therefore potential friends. New challenges and new achievements are definitely a constant on my list too. Sometimes just waking up in the morning with a purpose is something to look forward too. Every time I didn’t feel like turning on my PC I went back to that list, and it worked like a magic trick to rekindled my motivation.