How to Stay Positive During a Long Job Search

Dreading an autumn of job searching after a fruitless summer of the same?

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Karen Burns

With a tough summer of job hunting behind you, you may be dreading the prospect of a tough autumn of job hunting ahead of you.

If so, you could not be blamed. It’s hard to keep banging away at something that doesn’t show results. Even worse, the hopelessness, anger, and depression you may be feeling can actually be harmful. Potential employers can smell desperation a mile away. It is, sorry to say, a turnoff.

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So, right now your biggest problem may be staying positive. Try this:

• Find healthy ways to vent the hopelessness, anger, and depression. Don’t let it all just fester inside. Get it out, through exercise, therapy, meditation, prayer—whatever works.

• Maximize your income; minimize your out-go. Rent out a room. Sell unneeded possessions. Take a temp job. Controlling your financial life, even in small ways, is empowering.

• Even when you’re not leaving the house (to go to a job interview, to network), get dressed as if you were. Shower, shave, coif, and put on a decent outfit. You’ll feel better, promise.

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• Spend time with upbeat people. Positivity is contagious. Whatever you do, avoid the doomers-and-gloomers. They are not your friends right now.

• During your “off” time, do what makes you feel happy and—this is important—shows a tangible result. Clean a closet, volunteer to help those less fortunate than yourself, bake cookies. If at the end of each day you can point to something real that you’ve accomplished, you’ll have an easier time staying positive.

Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. She blogs at