Attitude is everything... especially in a job search. But looking for work is hard and filled with mounting frustrations and multiple rejections. So how will you keep upbeat and positive? How can you pull yourself out of the slumps and setbacks so inherent to the process? How will you maintain the necessary energy, enthusiasm and confidence that a winning candidate needs?
Here are 3 surefire solutions you can use to overcome some of the biggest challenges of your job search:
Solution #1) Avoid Isolation
The potential for feeling isolated and alone is perhaps the greatest roadblock any job-seeker can face. Getting out and about as much as possible is critical to your success. Moreover, since networking is the most direct route to your next position, you should be meeting people at every opportunity. There are several ways to interact with others and each could payoff by providing you with valuable connections as well as an added boost of confidence.
- Become active in professional associations and groups relevant to your line of work. The contacts you will make at these meetings are likely to have direct links to managers and other decision-makers in organizations that are of interest to you. Also, you will have access to information and job listings that might not otherwise be available.
- Volunteer in a related field. The very act of serving others will raise your feelings of wellbeing. Even more, because you will be volunteering in a field associated with your own, your new connections are likely to lead to unexpected opportunities and liaisons.
- Join a job search group. Being around people who are going through a similar situation will go a long way to lesson any feelings of isolation you may be experiencing. In addition, you will have opportunities to share job search tips, exchange leads, and provide emotional support. Many such groups meet on a regular basis (in person or online) and provide what I term "compassionate accountability." Group members promise to perform a number of job search activities and are then obligated to report their progress at the following meeting. So, by joining this type of group, you will be getting a combination of tips, support and motivation to move forward... a real boon to your job search!
Solution #2) Practice Proactive Stress Reduction
Plan ahead and determine the best methods you can use to make yourself feel better and relax after a tough day.
- Think of friends you can turn to for a pep talk or, if necessary, a shoulder to cry on. (However, be careful with this one. You don't want to complain to contacts within your network. You risk being viewed as a "downer," and that is the last thing you want. Rather, when confiding your frustrations, select to share only with those close friends who have your best interests at heart.)
- Another way to reduce stress is to complete a project where you will see a tangible result: cleaning out a drawer, mowing the lawn or hanging shelves in the garage. While you are job hunting, you will be putting out lots of effort without seeing an immediate return on your investment. However, if you do something whereby you achieve a tangible result, the very act of seeing an outcome from your efforts can keep you motivated. (Be sure, however, that the projects you choose are fairly small. Larger ones will take your focus off of your job search.)
- If you can afford to take some time away, perhaps a weekend or a bit longer, you might plan to do so during your search. Adding some real distance (both emotionally and physically) to an issue can provide renewed focus and energy. It will also improve your overall attitude.
Solution #3) Set Yourself Up for Success
If your skills aren't current and competitive, it is awfully difficult to feel good about your viability as a candidate. To be successful, you will need to sell yourself with confidence to potential employers.
- Therefore, if you are lacking in certain skills, take a class. Community colleges, senior centers, adult education, and several other learning institutions offer low cost classes. You will not only gain the necessary knowledge (you can add this to your resume), you will also be able to network with your fellow students and the instructor. Ask to meet briefly with him or her and begin the conversation with an open-ended question along the lines of: "I am targeting positions in the field of XYZ. Do you have any ideas or suggestions for me?" You will probably get some extremely helpful information and, many times, useful contact names.
- There are also a number of free and low fee websites on the Internet that will provide you with many of the skills you need.
- Lynda.com For25 a month, you'll get unlimited access to over 3000 (mainly technical and creative) video tutorials
- GCFlearnfree.org Boasts more than 1000 free lessons in technology, math, career planning skills and more
- Microsoft Office Training Learn the MS Office Suite for free
- OpenCulture.com Links to scores of free, high quality training videos for both cultural and educational subjects
Although looking for work can certainly be filled with frustrations and setbacks, there are a number of actions you can take to help you overcome the job search blues. Realize that you have already conquered a lifetime of challenges and have gained from the experience. And, even if things are going more slowly than you'd like, you are moving forward and you will ultimately achieve success.
So take heart, take action and--most of all--present yourself from a position of strength. After all, a seasoned job-seeker with confidence and a can-do attitude is awfully hard to beat!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in 2014, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!