Staying motivated whilst job searching

My friend messaged me to say her hubby was at risk of redundancy and he was job searching. She asked if I could look over his CV. I agreed, of course. I asked about the kind of jobs he was looking for so that I could give him some support in tailoring it. As I was looking for example job descriptions, I found a job he might like. I reviewed the CV, sending it back with the job I’d found. 

Two weeks later he told me he had a few last things to put on and that he was going to apply over the weekend. Monday morning comes and I’m chatting with my friend. I ask how the application went. “It finished before he applied”. As we chatted it became clear that he didn’t apply because he got overwhelmed in the process – he was scared of making the change and so he lost motivation and focus.  

Making the Job searching process meaningful

Getting a job is a relatively simple process: you make sure your applications are tailored, selling your skills well, you prepare for the interview, sell yourself again and get an offer. Now I appreciate that although the process is simple, the reality isn’t. It can be long-winded, time-consuming, fraught with red tape and other people’s assumptions.  

Job searching doesn’t need to take long but it does need to be meaningful. By this I mean being really clear about what you’re looking for (I can help you with this), using your time effectively to search, network, follow up, make applications and prepare for an interview. This is the amount of time I’d recommend for each task:

  • Job searching: 60m a week
  • Networking: 10m a day
  • Follow up: as needed
  • Applications: 3-4h per application, max 2/week
  • Interview preparation: 10h (2h researching company, 4h considering questions they might ask and 4h practising)

As you can see, each stage takes longer than the last as you spend more energy trying to get a specific role. 

Staying motivated whilst job searching 

Job searching can feel exhausting and relentless and it can feel hard to motivate yourself to go on. There are the highs of getting through to interview and the lows of never hearing back from an application you’ve worked so hard on… especially by the interview stage where you might have spent 15h writing, researching and preparing for ‘just’ one job. 

It’s natural, and normal to feel frustrated and stressed at points during the process. Everyone does and this can lead to stalling (as per my friend’s husband). Take some time to identify specifically is triggering those feelings so that you can prepare for them and create a plan to deal with it when it does happen. For example, some people find waiting to hear back from an interview really difficult. Instead of focusing on the uncertainty ask the interviewer directly when you can expect to hear back. It might not stop the worry completely but it should make it more manageable. 

No matter where you are in the process or how you’re feeling about it, take some time off to relax. You do not need to be looking daily. All that does is reactivate your fears that there’s nothing out there. If you’re searching in a meaningful, focused manner then you’ll see all you need and each job stays open for at least a couple of weeks. 

Finally, understand why you want a new role – yes you need money but what else? What do you love about the work you do now? What’s driving your passion to work in a particular sector? What interests you about that company/role? The more specific and clear you are about who you are, what strengths and experience you have and where you want to take your career the more focused and excited you’ll be about possible opportunities. 

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