7 steps to keep you motivated in your job search

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A new year offers a sterling chance to refresh your job search and career goals. If you’ve been in the market for a while, it may be time to sharpen your focus and bring more energy and resilience into your methods. If you are just getting a start, take the time to learn how to keep yourself going through the ups and downs that confront just about every job seeker.

Pull out your favorite online or paper scheduling tool, take some notes, and shape these suggestions to fit your personal situation.

1. Make a detailed description of your new ideal job in writing.

Envision your workday from the time you wake up until leaving work for the day. When do you start? Where do you go? What do most of your day’s activities consist of? Who else is in the picture—who are your co-workers, customers, others involved? How long do you spend in meetings or out in the field?

Visualization is a powerful technique used by many leaders, athletes, performers and others to practice skills they want to perfect or create more of what they want. It works best when you put the details in place to really generate a sense of what it would be like to work in the new job. Emphasize what you want to create more of, vs what you may be trying to get away from or avoid.

2. Reflect on the purpose you intend to fulfill by getting the job you want.

Will you help others in some way? Improve a problematic situation, create something of value, or other purpose beyond your own immediate needs? Your focus may be on providing for your family and offering your children a positive example or paying your financial obligations. By putting your focus on this higher level, it can help firm your resolve and motivate you to take risks that might otherwise feel daunting. 

3. Keep your attention on the small steps you will take to reach your goals.

Each step—like writing a resume, completing a job application, making a phone call, doing some research—is in itself an important task that will move you closer to your new job.  And each step takes time, so create some calm and space for yourself by acknowledging the accomplishment of the step you’re on, vs. feeling frustrated by all that’s left to do.

4. Outline a structure to follow for your job search activity, week by week.

This way, you’ll have clear guidance when you’re energized, and support when you feel stuck or down. Include activities that will move you forward and keep you engaged. Keep in mind that you can ask for help and ideas from staff of an American Job Center, a friend, a mentor, a career counselor, or find job search resources at your local library. Make your plan manageable and detailed enough that you will understand what’s intended when you come back to it.

Include steps such as:

  • Take career assessments to focus your career goal
  • Write your elevator speech to highlight 3 key strengths and what you are looking for
  • Write a resume, ask at least two people to review it, then revise
  • Search job banks for openings in your field and location
  • Join professional associations and / or networking groups
  • Create or update social media profiles
  • Each week, reach out to at least 3-4 contacts in your desired field or target company on social media
  • Find a job club to join; many are currently operating online
  • Attend a professional event, training, networking, etc. – many are currently offering online options
  • Target 3-5 organizations you want to work for and conduct employer research on their mission / vision, key projects, strategies and goals, media presence, websites, etc.

5. If you have ample time on your hands, consider volunteer work.

It will provide more structure for your schedule which can make completing tasks easier; you may gain new knowledge and skills or improve current skills; the work provides an opportunity to contribute to others and feel inspired; and it may also offer experience to add to your resume. 

6. Maintain regular, daily practices that will elevate your energy.

Stick to the classics: get enough sleep, eat well, drink plenty of water, and exercise. This helps build a foundation to keep energy high. Take walks, get outdoors, move your body. Even if you are typically not much of an exerciser, now is the time to give yourself the gift of movement to help clear anxiety and keep yourself energized. Especially while job interviews are primarily conducted remotely, the boost of energy can improve the impression you make, besides fueling your job search activity and reducing stress.

7. If you feel exhausted and flat, take time off.

Don’t keep pushing. It can feel counterproductive to take a break when you’re intent on getting a job, but if you feel worn, not only is it important to take care of yourself, that flat energy would can give a less than flattering impression to your contacts or employers. Instead, set a time for yourself to invest in activities that refresh you like spending time with friends or relaxing.

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