20 Ways to Stay Motivated During Your Job Search

These time-tested suggestions will prevent your search from getting you down.

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Karen Burns
The longer you look for a job, the tougher it becomes. Who could blame you for feeling despondent, discouraged, depressed—even bitter? Some days you may not even feel like getting out of bed.

Unfortunately, not only is depression, well, depressing, it also makes it harder to get out there and look. And the less you get out and look, the less likely a job offer will come your way. Even worse, prospective employers tend to be turned off by negativity. It’s the most dastardly kind of Catch-22.

What all this means is that a major part of anyone’s job hunt is staying motivated. We all have our ways of keeping on keeping on, but here are some time-tested suggestions to prevent your search from getting you down:

1. Join a job-search group. It’s a reason to get out of the house and a venue to vent. You may even get some great feedback on your presentation, resume, cover letter, etc.

2. Socialize with employed friends. It’s a reminder that jobs do exist. Besides, these are the folks most likely to know about available positions and upcoming openings.

3. Limit your exposure to the news. Yes, you do need to know what’s going on in the world, but you don’t need to wallow in the latest dismal job-market reports.

4. Invigorate yourself through hobbies or sports. These can be activities you already love or, better yet, something new and exciting.

[See 21 Secrets to Getting the Job.]

5. Avoid “glass-is-half-empty” folks. Everyone knows people like this. Minimize your exposure to them as much as you can.

6. Hang out with people who make you feel good about yourself. Find and stick with friends and family who respect you, who like you for who you are, and who are positive and upbeat.

7. Expand your network every single day. The growth of your professional network is a better way to measure progress than how many interviews you have each week.

8. Expose yourself to media that inspire you. Choose books, blogs, magazines, movies, and TV that uplift you and make you feel the world is a wonderful place.

9. Read biographies of successful people. It can help enormously to realize that every successful person encountered failures and setbacks along the way. Every single one.

10. Try new (to you) job-search techniques. Go for an informational interview or switch your resume from chronological to functional. A different approach may breathe new life into your hunt.

11. Get a mentor. If you have a mentor, get a second one. You’re allowed to have as many as you want or need. Mentors offer perspective, advice, and encouragement.

[See 25 Qualities Job Interviewers Look For.]

12. Ask a friend to be your “negativity cop.” This is the person who will let you know when you’re projecting negativity.

13. Find someone to report your progress to. This can be a friend or job-search group or mentor. You’ll be more likely to keep on task if you are accountable to someone.

14. Spend time with a child. If not yours, someone else’s. Children are great big-picture people. They often have a way of reminding us what’s important in life.

15. Get some exercise. Exercise produces those wonderful little pepper-uppers, endorphins. It’s a cheap, and legal, high.

16. Eat healthy. Cook good meals from scratch. It’s not only better for your body and mind, it’s cheaper, too.

17. Set a challenging goal. Whether it’s to run a marathon or clean out the garage, a challenge successfully met boosts your mood. You will project more confidence as a result.

[For more workplace advice, visit U.S. News Careers.]

18. Learn something new. It can be related to your work or something for fun. Learning new things stretches your brain and brightens your outlook.

19. Help others. Volunteering is always an amazing upper. And who knows, you might make some great new contacts.

20. Designate one day a week when you won’t think about your job hunt. Take a break. Clear your head. Rest. Relax. Reenergize.

Karen Burns is the author of the illustrated career advice book The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, recently released by Running Press. She blogs at www.karenburnsworkinggirl.com.