We are all well aware that the economy is terrible and has been for a very long time. Things may seem better, but unemployment figures are still extremely high and it is hard to know when conditions will turn around. Looking for a job can be challenging, but it is crucial to stay upbeat and positive. How do you keep your spirits up in what could be a long and arduous job search journey?
One of the most common questions people ask when they meet new people is, “what do you do.” That is no accident. In America, our careers are how we tend to define ourselves. Finding yourself without a job can strike at the very core of who you are and what your worth is to society as a whole.
Martin Yate, author of the popular Knock ‘em Dead job search strategy books, points out that most job searchers were not expecting to find themselves looking for a job, and in an overwhelming majority of the cases, their unemployment is no fault of their own. It can be devastating to find that your years of unpaid overtime, cancelled vacations and late meetings did not earn you a reprieve from a pink slip. It is, however, important to realize that you are not alone in your job search, and your experience is shared by millions of others.
Jobs are never guaranteed. One of the cardinal rules of organizations is that everyone is expendable, so even in the best of times employers are willing to explore ways to get the job done at a lower cost. Often that means replacing experienced professionals with multiple entry-level positions at a lower rate. The job market, similar to life as a whole, is not fair, and people can do all of the right things and still find themselves unemployed for long periods of time.
Job search skills are truly life skills because most Americans will have to utilize them multiple times in their work career. Unemployment is a fact of life. Even in the best of times there is still approximately a 4-5% unemployment rate. To clarify, that rate only applies to those who are actively seeking employment. People who have retired or given up their job search are not included in that number. In the best case scenario, and in the best economy, 5 out every 100 people who are actively looking cannot find a job.
While it’s easy to say when you have a job, one of the most important things you can do is to make sure you have a positive mental attitude. Think positively and make sure you have confidence in yourself. Negativity has a tendency to be self-fulfilling. If you do not value yourself, it will be difficult for prospective employers to value you.
Staying positive is not an exercise in feeling good, it works decidedly in your favor when you are looking for a job. That belief is easier expressed than done, of course, but there are some practical suggestions you can use to keep your spirits up. First, you will need to create a written job search plan. Set goals and targets for every component of your job search and make sure to reach all of your goals. Keep to a schedule. Your primary job is to get a job, so set aside a block of time every day, maybe 5-7 hours a day, for work on your job search. Make sure to keep to that schedule.
Go to minyan and shiurim and get involved in chesed and tzeddaka projects as well. Wandering around aimlessly without direction and purpose, even for part of the day, can be depressing and self defeating. Finding a job is a primary focus in your life, but it is only one of them!
At the other extreme, some people are so despondent over losing their job, they believe every second of every waking hour must be devoted to their job search. Reward yourself for small accomplishments such as applying to a targeted number of jobs, networking with a target number of people, completing an interview. Spending some time doing the things you like can make the job search easier.
Unemployment often places monetary limitations on people’s ability to participate in some recreational activities, but with a little thought and planning, there are a lot of low-cost or free ways to have fun. Watching a high school sporting event, taking your children to feed the ducks or taking out books from the library are a few great ways to have some fun without spending a lot of money.