How to stay Mentally and Emotionally Strong and Positive during your Job Search

By Jack J. Kelly

Interviewing can be a demanding, nerve-wracking, frustrating, and discouraging process. It is riddled with pushback, rudeness, and dead ends. It is easy to just give up, but don’t.  You need to keep the faith and push forward through adversity and rejection.

I know what you’re thinking: “Easier said than done.”  You’re right; it is easy for me to say this because I’m not the one actually interviewing.  However, trust me, I can relate. As a recruiter, we go through these ups and downs with all our candidates every day – for the last 20 years.

Here are some important things you should do to power through the challenges.

Before anything else, you need to have a reason, purpose, or deeper meaning why you are searching for a new job.  It could be because you want to earn more money and the chance to improve your career to create a better life for your spouse and children. Maybe it is to get out of an untenable situation with a horrific boss.  Continually remind yourself, especially when things look bleak, about the reasons for looking. Use it as a mantra that you tell yourself throughout the day.  When things look dark, remind yourself that “I am doing this for the benefit of my kids and I will do whatever it takes to move forward. They deserve the best and I will do everything in my power to make their lives better.”   Clearly, you can substitute your own personalized mantra. By doing this, it will give you the internal strength to forge ahead. When you do things for others and bigger than yourself, you can achieve greatness and overcome any obstacles in your way.

Visualize yourself in the new job or at least not in your current role. The idea of getting away from a heinous and toxic boss is one thing, but to picture how great it would be is another.  See yourself in a new office, surrounded by great people, having an easier commute to the work, and feeling appreciated.  Hold onto to that vision.  Replay it in your mind when times get tough.

Immediately stop with the negative self talk and doubt. We are our own worst enemies at times. Our friends and family will encourage us, but the little nagging voice played on an endless loop in your head will fill you with doubt. Stop the negative thought process and replace them with positive thoughts. Think of all the times you succeeded and overcame the odds. Remind yourself of all your past accomplishments. When you are feeling the negative feedback loop, quickly substitute a story of one of your successes- no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential.

Tell trusted people about your goal to get a new job. Most people tend to keep their job search private. Let some people close to you know about your plans. By telling them that, you will get a new job. It is drawing a line in the sand. You now have to live up to it. Not only are you doing this for your family, visualizing yourself in a new job, counteracting the self doubt, but now you need to live up to what you told your friends.

Find someone whose judgment you respect, such as a knowledgeable recruiter, to brainstorm with about the challenges that you are facing.  By discussing the process, you may gain valuable advice on how to improve. Just like a professional baseball player needs to consult with a batting or pitching coach to improve their swing or curveball, you could greatly benefit from some outside professional advice.  You could also turn to a mentor or a person that you look up to and ask about their experiences when interviewing and how they got to where they are now.

Sometimes you just need a mental health day or two. Even if you are out of work and desperate, if you are feeling burnt out, take a pause to recharge. If you are pushing yourself too hard and putting too much pressure on yourself, you could end up doing more damage.  In the interview, the discouragement and bitterness could become evident and turn off the interviewers. It’s better to take a short retreat, regroup, and return stronger.

Here are some other quick and easy ideas to help you:  seek out and join a job search group in your neighborhood, get out of the house and socialize with friends, engage in a favorite hobby, go to the gym, job, run, or dance, find people who will cheer you on, work on building your network, do things that will put you in a good mood, volunteer, read, and learn something new.  The goal is to keep an optimistic mindset to stay, sharp, focused, and positive to overcome any and all obstacles.

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