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How to Stay Motivated During a Job Search

By Higher Education Recruitment Consortium
March 21, 2017
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Job hunting is a marathon, not a sprint, and in a competitive job market, even the most accomplished job seekers will have moments of self-doubt. To maintain your energy and enthusiasm try to think of your job search as a learning opportunity; even if you don't land the first job you apply for you will likely gain valuable knowledge and tools that bring you one step closer to your dream job. The tips below will help you maintain motivation during your job search. Managing both your activities and your attitude will help you stay focused and create career success.


1. Make a List of Reasons for Wanting a New Job

Maybe you need a better salary, want more work-life balance, or are ready to move into a more prestigious position - whatever your reasons are, make a list and keep them in your back pocket to refer to if you start losing motivation. You may also want to take a second look at your list to make sure you can't find what you need with your current employer. If you have a good relationship with your boss, consider having a conversation about your career to identify opportunities for growth within your current organization.


2. Manage Your Expectations

Whatever thrust you into your job search it's likely that you are ready for a change - like now. But, keep in mind that the average job takes at least six weeks to fill - often longer in higher education and definitely longer the higher up your desired position is. A good rule of thumb to remember is that it takes about one month for every $15,000 in desired salary. So if you want to earn $75,000, it may take five months or more before you receive an offer.


3. Visualize Your Dream Job

Having a clear idea of your dream job and ideal workplace from the beginning will help you focus your job search and reduce job search fatigue. Instead of applying for every new job you come across just to see if you get an interview try identifying the positions that seem like the best next step in your career with these tips:

  • Make a list of all your professional accomplishments before browsing jobs. This will give you a better idea of your areas of strength so you can quickly identify opportunities that you would be a highly competitive candidate for or less competitive candidate.
  • Think about your must haves in a dream job such as employee diversity, dual-career assistance, or flexible scheduling. Then do some research on employers to narrow your search. View institutions with dual-career programs.


4. Break Your Goal into Smaller Pieces

One of the easiest ways to stay motivated with any goal is to break it up into smaller, easier to accomplish, pieces. Now that you can visualize your dream job, work backward to create smaller goals. Start by finding the job posting for your dream job. Compare the job requirements to your list of accomplishments to determine your areas of strength. This will also give you an opportunity to determine if there are areas you can continue to develop in your current position that will make you a stronger candidate in the future. You might also consider signing-up for relevant professional development or certification programs to improve your competitiveness. Set up daily job alerts with your dream job in mind and create a routine for checking alerts and applying for positions. Stick to your routine, even if you find yourself getting frustrated. Remember that your resolve may be the edge that gets you a job over other job seekers!


5. If at First You Don't Succeed

Every rejection brings you closer to your dream job. If you are not getting interviews then consider sharing your resume with peers you trust to see if they have any suggestions for improvement - there is always room for improvement. Try not to lose hope and adjust your approach and attitude as-needed until you get the response you want. Continue to network and learn from your peers. Explore more resume and interview tips.


Candidates often feel that they don’t get feedback quickly enough from higher education institutions where they have applied. Remember that your perspective is vastly different from that of the managers and HR people making the decision. While they are working on many projects and open positions, you are focused on only one. Patience on your part is very important. The successful candidate is the one who stays in touch with the hiring manager or recruiter. If a deadline for a decision has passed, wait a couple of days and then call to get an update. If you haven’t heard anything at all for a couple of weeks, then it’s okay to check in with the recruiter. However, if the hiring manager or recruiter starts to get the sense that you are frustrated or upset, it could sour them on your candidacy. Keep your tone light and professional. Acknowledge that you know how busy they must be. Lack of communication or feedback on their part is not a reflection on you. Try to remember that.


Finally, find ways to keep your skills sharp and your attitude upbeat. Many candidates find that physical activity helps them manage the stress of the job search. Signing up for a class or certification in your field can help you learn something new and can also be a networking opportunity. Make positive activities a part of your daily routine.


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