The job search process can be inspiring and even fun…under the right circumstances. If you already have a great job and you’re looking for an even better one that will bring exciting new challenges, that’s great. But for most people, the job search doesn’t happen under “great” circumstances at all. It happens when we’ve lost our previous job and need a new one, or when we’re stepping into the marketplace for the first time and the stakes are high. In both these cases, the job search can bring anxiety, fear, discouragement and even the kind of desperation that leads to poor decisions. In this situation, “staying positive” can seem like a tall order. But with a little effort, you can protect your mental health and steer yourself away from blunders and perspective problems. Here’s how.

Stay connected.

Job seekers (especially those who are unemployed) can start to feel isolated. And when you lose touch with others, you may start believing your situation is worse than it is. You may start believing your search is running on longer, or your prospects are dimmer, or your resume is weaker than those of your peers. That’s just not true but contact with others can keep you grounded. Talk, circulate, go out for coffee and lunch now and then, and don’t lose sight of your friends and family.

Don’t let statistics get to you.

You may be hearing the job market is up, or your position is currently in high demand. But that doesn’t mean much to you if you’re struggling to find a job that will pay what you need. So, ignore it. Sometimes these forms of “good news” don’t sound so good to the people who are living them. So, tune out the news and focus on your own goals and your own search.

Maintain your standards.

If you aren’t finding work in your exact field, you can look in a different field. If you can’t find work in your city, consider expending your range. But while you adjust your goals and exercise your flexibility and resilience, don’t compromise on the issues that will truly impact your happiness. And DON’T compromise your salary expectations. A terrible job—or terribly low-paying job—can be worse than spending a few more weeks on the market. Stay focused and don’t let desperation cloud your judgement.

Get help.

It’s great to roll up your sleeves and face the world with a spirit of self-reliance. But there’s nothing wrong with reaching out for support and making sure you’re on the right track. Get some editing help with your resume. Ask friends to help you conduct practice interviews. Win or lose, make sure you can look back on this moment later knowing you did everything you could to find success. Contact the career management team at Extension for personal help and guidance.


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