How to stay motivated during your job hunt

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Recently, I sent an encouraging note to a good friend who has struggled to secure a full-time job. It was clear to me that his motivation had noticeably dipped. I tried to be positive and supportive.

His response? “You are right, but it’s hard to do sometimes.”

Every job search brings some ups and downs.

Readers found motivation, as well as tips on how to be a better person, in Stephen R. Covey 1989’s bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Covey’s book provides a road map for living and helps the reader develop better habits. One of the quotes from the book that provides motivation for me is: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

What keeps you motivated when you hit a pothole during the job hunt?

A recent study that focused on finding work following a job layoff reveals just how important motivation is in looking for a new job. Equally significant is managing negative thoughts that come with this experience.

Ruth Kanfer, a psychology professor at Atlanta’s Georgia Tech and one of the study’s co-authors says, “Searching for a job isn’t like learning a skill, where maintaining a positive attitude may be easier as you see improvement with effort.”

Job searching can be demoralizing when you believe that you exceeded the qualifications of a position, but you receive a rejection letter. And when you thought that a new job was in the bag, except that it wasn’t.

Because getting and staying motivated during the job search isn’t easy, you need a means or source to help keep you focused and encouraged. Here are some suggestions:

▪  Make time to get motivated. This sounds simple, but it is too often overlooked. For example, if you wake up one morning feeling a little down and think about giving up on your job hunt altogether it’s probably a good idea to consider scheduling time to pull away and do something that will inspire and energize you for a while.

▪  Maintain a good prospective: Job seekers need to embrace the job hunt and understand that the current economy provides a difficult job environment. Companies and their hiring managers are not quick to hire today, and are willing to hold out for the “best fit.”

The reality of the job search today is that, “beyond landing a job, you get almost no feedback on how you are doing or what you might do differently to improve your chance of finding a job,” says Kanfer. She adds that to successfully sustain motivation over time people need to become increasingly proactive.

▪  Figure out what inspires you: This is vital to the struggling job seekers. After all, you are submitting résumés, making calls, completing applications, going on interviews and networking. But, chances are, you receive little to no feedback on what you did wrong from the employer’s perspective or why you did not receive the job offer. So what’s inspiring you to seek employment? What excites you? Figure that out and remind yourself of it often.

▪  Laugh a little: I recently attended an event that featured Rod Allison, a comedian out of North Carolina. He was hilarious and I laughed a lot. You need to find an outlet, if not with a comedian, somewhere that allows you to laugh out loud. Take some time to read some jokes, go to a comedy movie or play. Whatever you do, take time to laugh a little.

▪  Read books: A book that emphasizes the value of a healthy self-image would be a good one to read. See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar, an American author, salesman, and motivational speaker, is a great one. If not this book, search Google for motivational books and choose one or stop by the local library for assistance.

▪  Stay current with social media: Lots of social media outlets can be refreshing and encouraging. Find some that are and read them on a regular basis during your day. Read something that will get you excited. Don’t just read job openings, but, follow someone whose posts are regularly helpful and informative.

And remember this: Life is about change. It happens every day. And potholes do eventually get repaired. When you pass a pothole during your drive or daily walk, think of it as just a reminder to yourself how job rejection are temporary and forge ahead.

Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, shed some good insight: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Lenroy Jones has dedicated his life to coaching and supporting career seekers to pursue their passion and purpose. Join him on LinkedIn, "like" him at or follow him on Twitter at @CareerDudeTweet.