Try these 5 activities before giving up on your job search

despondantThis post originally appeared in

I’ve seen it all too often: people losing their motivation to find employment. They resign themselves to the fact that they’ll never obtain their ideal job. Instead, they’ll wait for it to come to them—if it ever does.

In short, they’ve given up.

Is this you? Have you given up hope? When I was out of work, I was on the precipice of losing hope, but I was very lucky to land a job weeks before my unemployment benefits expired. Thanks to a surge of energy, reaching out to the right people, and a little luck, I landed the job.

Are you conducting your job search the way you should? Are you doing all you can? If not, it’s time to get back to the basics.

Reach Out for Help

This is perhaps one of the hardest things a job seeker can do. They feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness, or that no one wants to help them. First of all, asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Not asking for help is a sign of weakness. Let go of your pride.

Here’s the thing; people like helping others. Psychologists say that helping others gives people a sense of accomplishment and makes them feel empowered. Have you helped someone find a job? If you did, I bet it felt good.

How you ask for help makes a difference, so keep that in mind when reaching out. Don’t simply approach people if they know of any jobs for you. This puts them into an awkward situation.

Instead, work into the conversation that you’re out of work, what you do (be exact), and the type of work you’re looking for.

Listen to Those You Trust

You worked with some great colleagues and maybe some “not so great” colleagues. Recall the ones who were trustworthy, the ones who you could trust with confidential information. These are the people you want to connect with if you haven’t already.

Listen to their advice and determine whether it makes sense for you. If it doesn’t—for example, if they tell you to spend your entire search on the Internet—then listen politely, but disregard it.

You’re fortunate if you find a “wingman.” They’re people who offer sound advice and stick with you throughout your job search.

Don’t forget the people in your community. They can also be great sources help. They may hear of opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t. For example, your neighbor might work at one of your desired companies, and he might be willing to deliver you resume to the hiring manager in the software engineering department.

Shuck Off the Negative Nellies

It’s nice to have someone to occasionally commiserate with – someone with whom you can curse your former employer, talk about being bored, share your financial woes, etc.

A former colleague of mine and I did exactly this. We met once a week, maybe twice, at a local bar where we would “cry in our beer.”

This was great at first, but soon it got old and made me more depressed as time went on. So I broke ties with him. I was determined to surround myself with people who were positive, hoping their positivity would wear off on me.

Try Something Different

1. Develop a Plan: Now it’s time to develop a career action plan. The plan I’m speaking of should, ideally, cover your day-to-day – maybe even your hour-to-hour. Record it all on a spreadsheet. Without a solid plan, you’ll end up spinning your wheels.

2. Use Different Methods to Look for WorkNetworking has always proved to be the best way to look for work. Supplement that with LinkedIn. Make follow-up calls. Even knock on companies’ doors, if possible. You’ll feel more productive if you employ a variety of methods – just don’t spread yourself thin. Four methods should be fine.

3. Take a Break: You are most likely riding a roller coaster ride of emotions. You need to take occasional breaks to regroup. Not too long, mind you – but long enough to regain your energy. Go on walks or to the gym. If the weather’s, nice sit on a bench and reflect on your plan.

4. Volunteer in Your Area of Work: Volunteering is a good idea for a number of reasons. One, you put yourself in a position to network with people who are currently working and may have ideas or contacts who can be of use. Two, it keeps you active; you’re not spending all your time sitting at home behind your computer. Finally, you can enhance the skills you have or develop new ones.

5. Get Job Search Assistance: Your local one-stop career center, an outplacement agency (if you were granted one by your employer), or an alumni association can all be sources of job search advice.

6. Join a Networking Group: Or, if you were networking and stopped, try it again. I’ve spoken with job seekers who have had unlucky experience with networking groups. Perhaps joining a smaller group of networkers who will offer support and job search advice is the way to go.

7. Seek Professional Help If Needed: Sometimes, the stress of being out of work is too much to handle on your own. You may feel anxious and even depressed. It’s important to realize this. Take advice from family and friends when applicable, and seek help from a therapist if need be. You may find talking with a non-judgmental third party refreshing.

Getting Back on Your Bicycle

You’ve fallen off your bicycle, figuratively speaking, so now it’s time for a surge of energy. Try as best you can to put the facts and figures behind you. Remember that you were and will continue to be a productive employee.

Photo: Flickr, Václav Soyka


4 thoughts on “Try these 5 activities before giving up on your job search

  1. Rich Grant (@RichCareer)

    Bob, as usual, your advice is right on the money. The “traditional” job search (find openings online, apply, wait in frustration) doesn’t work, at least if that’s all you’re doing. Your point #2 is so important, and oftentimes, job seekers need more details to fully flesh out what it means to “network.” Regarding #6, networking groups, see if your local career center has a group of other unemployed professionals. It seems counterintuituve to network with other unemployed people, but you can support each other, as most likely, you’re looking for different things



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