I have the privilege of leading a job club for people I deeply admire. The reason I admire them is because, as the saying goes, they “keep on keeping on.” Sure, they face setbacks and sometimes trudging to our career center in downtown Lowell, Massachusetts, is hard. Nonetheless, they arrive with a friendly smile and warm handshake.
Recently I led the job club which I’ve done hundreds of times. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I felt unprepared. But minutes before it began, the topic I wanted to address came to mind.
“Optimistic,” I said when they settled down. They looked at me quizzically. “Optimistic,” I repeated. “I want to hear about something that makes you optimistic. It doesn’t have to be about your job search. It can be about something in your life.”
I asked a woman sitting across from me—we sit together as a group, as equals—what makes her feel optimistic. She announced to the group that she is applying for two jobs that she’s stoked about. That’s a start. Another member said he’s lost 20 pounds since being out of work. I told him I was jealous.
Reasons to be optimistic
There are reasons to be optimistic while you’re trying to land your next job. They can be the small things you do that make you feel a sense of achievement.
1. Attend Networking groups
Attending networking groups to find opportunities can make you feel optimistic. Will you come away from every event with leads to pursue? Not always; but if you attend consistently, it will give you a sense of achievement.
2. Begin a healthy routine
I tell my workshop attendees that when I was unemployed I had already been walking 45 minutes a day. I increased my walking to 90 minutes a day. This helped me clear my mind of negative thoughts. Your thing might be going to the gym, doing yoga, meditation. These are all great ways to feel optimistic.
3. Plan to take some time off
You might think this is counterintuitive, as your goal is to conduct a proactive job search. But you deserve a break to recharge your batteries. Go to a museum with your family or friends. Many museums have free events.
If museums aren’t your thing, go to a movie (bring your own snacks) and take the rest of the day off. Feel optimistic that you will resume the job search with vigor.
4. Meet a former colleague for coffee
Tell your former colleague that you’re paying for the coffee in exchange for some information. The information you’re seeking is what you’ve accomplished where you last worked.
You might be too close to your accomplishments to see them. Others might speak to them better. Feel optimistic when you hear about your accomplishments.
5. Celebrate your successes
A great interview is a success. Sending a tailored résumé to a company for your desired job is a success. Informational interview, success. The point is to celebrate the small things you’ve done.
You don’t need to go crazy–maybe a good bottle of wine, a short road trip with family, letting your job club know about your successes. Be optimistic about these small successes.
6. Getting to the second, third, fourth round of the interviews
Look, if you get this far in the process, you’re doing something right. More specifically, you are desired for your skills, accomplishments, experience, and personality. Will you get the job? Hopefully. But if you don’t, be optimistic nonetheless. Think to yourself, “I got further than many other people.”
7. Start a side hustle
You’re a graphic artist. Spread the word that you will design graphics for 3/4 the price companies would have to pay. This is a great reason to feel optimistic. You are creating another stream of revenue that can keep giving once you’ve found your “real” job. This is a great reason to feel optimistic.
8. Be able to conduct your job search
There are times your job search is disrupted. Childcare might be one of those reasons. Your spouse works full-time and you can no longer afford childcare. Lean on a friend to watch your children while you attend a networking event, meet someone for an informational interview, escape to the library to write your résumé. Your job search is important; find a way to make it work.
You might not want to work for free; I get that. Think of it this way, you’re volunteering for a good cause. Is an animal shelter your thing? Or volunteering for an organization where you can enhance your skills might be what you want to do.
There are practical reasons to volunteer, such as using this experience as fodder for your résumé, or networking your way to a paying job. Volunteering has proven to be a very effective way to find a job. Besides, it will get you out of your house. Another great way to feel optimistic.
There are other ways to feel optimistic during your job search and many of them don’t have to relate to your search. Every little victory is helping you get to your end goal, as they will give you a sense of achievement.
If you can think of other reasons to feel optimistic, I’d love to add them to this article.