Best of CoBiz: Dog days’ job search: Six tips to stay motivated

Summer is a difficult time for job-seeking. Given the fact that some employers slow down their hiring, there are fewer networking events to attend, and people want to delay networking coffee meetings, usually until fall. It is easy to become disheartened.  If you are a frustrated job hunter and find it difficult to maintain your focus, here are six tips to revitalize your job search.

1). Do something fun. Just because you’re not receiving a paycheck doesn’t mean that for your penance, your life should be void of any enjoyment. Go see a movie every so often.Take your kids to the waterpark that they’ve been begging you to take them to.  Life doesn’t stop just because you happen to be out of work.

2). So something for others. Try to avoid feeling sorry for yourself during this difficult period. There are many other folks in a similar situation. Make it a priority to spend a few hours in service to others at least once a week. The payback to boost your mood and self-image doesn’t hurt, especially when the extra confidence is reflected in a critical job interview.

3). Minimize the chatter and distractions. Whether its CNN running in the background 24/7, or those irritating notifications beeping and chirping constantly on your smart phone, turn off all technical gadgets and stop time wasters.  If you’re expecting an important email or phone call from a potential employer, of course be readily available.  Otherwise, give yourself extended periods of time to focus and think, away from all of the distractions.  Having a scattered mind is one of the worst ways to approach job seeking, from networking to interviewing.  You’ll be surprised  that with stillness can come new ideas, openness, confidence, revitalization and solutions.

4). Realize that work is not the only place where you claim your identity.  Although it is important to have a meaningful career, you are worth much more than the tasks you perform for your job.  All too often people who are out of work become  demoralized and lost because they defined themselves by their positions, salaries and titles.  We are multi-faceted, each of us with numerous gifts and talents. When it comes to job hunting, it is easy to come across as desperate if your whole sense of purpose is derived from being employed.  This will decrease your worth in the job market.  Instead, sell yourself on an interview to a hiring authority by knowing and communicating your true value.

5). Give up austerity thinking.  I once worked with an established CEO who, once laid off, gave up all recreational activities, including his hockey league.  He thought it wise to cut his expenses and the hockey league was on his list of non-essential expenditures. Yes, it is prudent to be careful with your budget.  But if you can afford it, (and this client had no difficulty affording anything), don’t cut the things that ground you, keep you level-headed and bring some degree of fulfillment. Also, avoid being frugal over necessary job related items (like buying a new suit when the ones left in your closet either don’t fit or were in style 20 years ago).  Remember, the little details could nail that job offer. 

6). Make organization a priority. Write everything down, follow your schedule faithfully and don’t miss any appointments. Schedule out everything possible, from semimonthly haircuts (for men) and daily workouts to on-line job research or time spent working LinkedIn.  If you’re doing extensive networking, make sure all of your contacts are in a user friendly database and easily accessible, not scribbled on random napkins or floating around somewhere in your purse.  When you use your time effectively, you’ll feel productive, intrinsically motivated and avoid the procrastination so many job seekers succumb to due to lack of organization.

There are different theories out there regarding how long it takes for a new behavior to become a habit.  I believe new behaviors become ingrained and part of our repertoire with each new decision we make.  Be vigilant and monitor your behavior.  Cut out the belief systems or destructive behaviors that don’t serve you.  Remember these tips, especially when your job search seems endless, and soon you may discover renewed enthusiasm and sense of purpose.