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How to manage your motivation (and your guilt) through your jobsearch

You know you need to stay motivated through the jobsearch. Every day you take on the challenge. You look for opportunities, apply to positions, and search your network, set up appointments and talk to whoever will listen. Weeks pass by and it doesn’t seem like you have anything to show for it.

Your family tells you that you must be doing something wrong. If you just tried harder, you would get a job. You are demotivated, exhausted, and don’t see the point of continuing your search.

Successes_VP_SalesMan224 Motivation is defined as the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

When jobseekers apply to one position after another and get nothing back over and over again; it is no wonder that jobseekers eventually give up!

Jobsearch Motivators aren’t always helpful

There are lots of reasons that jobseekers are motivated. Here are some excellent ones:
  • You want to provide for your family.
  • You want to pay your bills and keep your credit in good standing.
  • Millennials repeatedly tell me they want to be independent, move out of the house and they want their parents to be proud of them.
  • You want to be honorable and self-respecting.
  • You want to set a good example for your spouse, children, extended family and friends.
Regardless of these motivators, the jobsearch can be especially demotivating when your efforts are repeatedly without a return for your work. Yet, managing motivation is key to getting through. What will help?

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Millennials, you are especially vulnerable.

You have completed your education and for the first time in your life, you don’t know what will be the next step for your life and career. There is pressure from your family, especially your parents, from siblings, especially the ones that are “successful.”

The pressure is unbearable. You too apply for jobs and get nothing back. It’s as if you don’t exist. You have become invisible to society.

It is humiliating to take a job as a barrister or a “retail customer service assistant.” Is this why you went to school? Is this the result of four or more years of study? …and you will need to begin paying your student loans in a few months. Again, the pressure is unbearable.

The key to motivation

As I have observed countless jobseekers for over a decade and carefully observed the emotional roller-coaster of the jobsearch, I believe that the key is “hope.” That said, it begs the question, how do we get some? How do we maintain it?

Three suggestions to be motivated in your jobsearch

  1. Set clear, weekly goals for each week. Complete them and take the weekend off.
  2. Identify and implement new actions in your jobsearch and monitor them so you know what helps and what doesn’t.
  3. Your jobsearch may take longer than you ever thought possible. If that happens, manage your life so you have no regrets on how you managed your finances, your time, and your relationships.

Weekly jobsearch goals

Setting and completing weekly goals brings a sense of accomplishment. It is the quantity and quality of the items on that checklist that make up the substance of a good job-search program. They should be quantifiable, or measurable, either in time spent or other numeric ratings.

I suggest to my clients that by Friday evening of every week, they should be able to say, “I’ve done everything that was reasonable for my job search this week as outlined on my list.”

The elements of your list should include the following:
  1. Three to five well crafted, customized, applications for jobs that are a good fit. (10 hours).
  2. Two to three quality networking interactions. (6 hours)
  3. Four hours (minimum) research in your industry, identifying potential possibilities, new alternatives for using your skills, researching companies that might be hiring, etc.
  4. Five to eight hours researching and contributing to your industry to stay informed on current changes. (LinkedIn groups can be part of this.)
  5. Five to eight hours learning new skills or acquiring certifications that can help in your future employment. Search for “free online courses in _________ .”
  6. Four to eight hours meaningful volunteer work.
  7. A two-hour meeting with your accountability partner to review the week and strategize the week to come.
Total Time: Approximately 40 – 50 hours per week.

This ensures you have done your due-diligence and can use your “off-time” to connect with your family, tackle those projects you never had time to do while you were working or in school, and enjoy time with friends. Having done your part, the remainder of your hours should be guilt-free.

Implementing new actions in your jobsearch

There is nothing more frustrating than not knowing what to do differently to get a better result. The jobsearch is a perfect place where this kind of frustration can grow and become debilitating.

I suggest that clients carefully document changes that they make when they apply for positions and then monitor the result. This allows them to keep what is helping and eliminate what isn’t. A good career coach who can help troubleshoot the jobsearch can be invaluable. Being part of a jobsearch team can also be valuable as members share what was helpful and what wasn’t.

Here are specific points that I always check when working with my clients.

Checklist to monitor change in a jobsearch

  1. Is there a comprehensive message in the cover letter, resume and LinkedIn profile that identifies the value that the jobseeker will bring to the business? (Are they all in sync?)
  2. Does the cover letter or resume have extraneous information that distracts the reader and hides the pertinent information?
  3. Is the cover letter and resume dense with information (not good!), or is there amply white space so the hiring professional enjoys reading and absorbing information?
  4. Is there a clear, front-and-center reason for the hiring professional to call the potential candidate?

Managing Hope

Most people find that changes to their search keeps their hope alive as they identify what helps and what doesn’t. These changes do more than keep their hope alive, they propel the jobsearch forward.

These suggestions can bring life to a jobsearch and make it into a dynamic project with goals, accomplishments and progress.

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