There are times when the job market is hot and you catch all of the breaks. The time period we are currently in, sadly, is not one of them. It’s easy for job seekers—or those worried about losing their jobs—to become self-critical and lose their confidence.
Even though we’re in the midst of a pandemic that created a massive health, economic and job crisis, people continue to put too much pressure on themselves. You may be in between roles during the worst job market since the Great Depression, but erroneously feel that you should still get interviews and job offers. When this doesn’t happen, discouragement and disappointment set in.
It’s hard to stay upbeat and positive when nothing seems to work out right. You feel that all day, every day, you’re knocking your head against the wall. Dozens of résumés are emailed in response to job postings. Hours are spent completing annoying, glitchy applications. You keep calling friends, former co-workers and others in your network, in the hopes of obtaining a solid job lead. To make matters worse, there’s a lack of feedback and you’re routinely ghosted by companies.
It’s hard to keep a healthy outlook when this continues to happen over three to six months. I’d like to present an alternative viewpoint and mindset. We are collectively going through one of the most challenging periods that we’ll most likely ever confront in our lifetimes.
This time is different from the past. You can’t—and shouldn’t—benchmark yourself against what you’ve done pre-Covid-19. Those days are long gone. This is a new and different world. To stay sane, you should readjust your expectations and change the way you look at things.
Here’s what you need to do to keep positive, motivated and upbeat to avoid spiraling into a bad mental and emotional state.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
About 55 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the outbreak has started. This doesn’t count all those who were previously unemployed and people who are woefully underemployed. It’s not the time to expect an easy ride. This is when we do our best to just get out of bed and make it through the day.
When you’re searching for a new job, focus on the things that you can control. Try not to ruminate and stress out over all of the parts of the interviewing process that are far outside of your control. Simply focus on each step and take it one day at a time. Cut yourself some slack. You’re running a marathon and not a sprint. It will take a lot of strength and endurance. It’s natural to feel fatigued and defeated.
Remember That You’re Remarkable
It’s common to lose confidence when things aren’t going your way. You start doubting and second-guessing yourself and all of your decisions.
When this starts happening, recall all of your past accomplishments—big or small. Stop ruminating and recite all of the reasons why you’re special. List the exceptional skills and wonderful experiences that you have to offer to prospective employers.
It’s Not Personal
Please don’t feel that it’s just you. Take comfort in knowing that everyone else is going through similar feelings of fear, stress and bouts of depression. Everyone at one point gets rejected for a role, loses out to an office nemesis for a lucrative promotion or gets ghosted after a seemingly great interview. Work on becoming mentally tough. Then, the obstacles, setbacks and hurdles will be tackled in stride and not taken personally.
Since social media dominates our culture, we mistakenly believe that everyone else is enjoying a good life, while you’re the only one struggling. Ignore the Instagram facade of others; otherwise, you’re comparing yourself to something that is manufactured and not real.
Maintain a daily routine to stay focused and have a semblance of normalcy. In addition to your job search efforts, remember to practice self-care. Find hobbies and activities that allow you to decompress and get your mind off of the job search. You can read, do a little yoga, some push-ups, sit-ups, jogging in place, walk around the block or any other activities that you like.
Try practicing a little meditation and deep breathing exercises to decompress and chill out. Get a sufficient amount of sleep and avoid excessive amounts of alcohol, drugs and junk foods that will worsen your mood and make you feel sluggish.
Take time to reacquaint with your spouse, children, extended family, friends, high school and college buddies and former co-workers. This is a perfect time and excuse to connect with people that you haven’t seen in awhile. It will improve your mood to see a long-lost relative or childhood friend on a Zoom or FaceTime chat.
Think of What’s Next
Without the arduous commute and all the distractions at the office, you’ll actually have the peace and quiet to contemplate. Assess how you spent your pre-coronavirus time. Were you happy and pursuing something meaningful that offered intrinsic value?
While you’re searching for a job, consider any and all other options. Maximize this mandatory sheltering at home to think about how you can be the best version of yourself. If you’re unable to procure a job in your chosen field, start contemplating a career pivot or reinvent yourself.
We’ve all learned the hard way that life is fragile and fleeting. We have short, precious time here and it could all go in an instant. Focus on a career that matters to you.
Find Meaning And Purpose
It helps to stay motivated when you have a larger purpose guiding you. Think of all of the reasons why you want to find a job that is larger than the job itself. For example, you can self-motivate by knowing that a new job will enable you to have the money needed to purchase a home, pay for your kids’ college education, save for an early retirement or give money to charity.
As you face the adversities attendant with the job search, having a purpose and working toward a meaningful goal can power you through the darkest of days.
Make Some Changes
You’ve probably already learned by now that some people are supportive and others are highly critical and blame you for being out of work. You may want to start pruning the people in your life. If you’re surrounded by toxicity—folks deriving pleasure in your misfortunes, perversely enjoying that you’re down and out—start walking away from them. You don’t have to immediately excommunicate them; just put these folks on mute.
Seek out a group of like-minded people who are mutually supportive, positive and make you feel good about yourself. This will be your tribe that you can kick around ideas, share job leads and commiserate with.
Think Positive Thoughts
Set aside the negative thoughts racing around in your head. Replace them with positive affirmations.
“This is only a temporary setback.”
“I won’t let being in between jobs reduce my value.”
“I am the same smart successful person as before the job loss.”
“I will make it through this tough time period!”
Add your own mantras and continue to repeat them, especially when the negative thoughts start to creep in.
Find Your Inner Strength
Dig deep inside yourself to find your “fire in the belly.” Coat yourself in the armor of perseverance, fortitude and resilience. You’ll be surprised how strong you can become when the time calls for it.
Tune out anything that may get in your way. Turn off the television, put down your phone and go for a walk outside to clear your head. Stop excessively gaming, smoking weed, binge-watching Netflix and fighting with everyone around you and on social media.
You can control how you view, process and react to events. Most people handle stress and unfortunate circumstances with a knee-jerk, panicked response. They dwell on the worst-case scenario happening.
Instead of habitually doing this, take a deep breath and pause. Then, analyze the situation. Look at it head on with clarity and objectivity. “Is this really bad or am I overreacting?” Even if you’re in a tough spot, you need to find the mental fortitude to think of positive solutions to make things better.
It’s Not Failing—It’s Just A Do-Over
We’re all afraid of failing. It’s not such a big deal. The greatest entrepreneurs, business people, athletes, politicians and celebrities had epic failures and still rose to greatness. If you read the biographies of successful people, such as Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling and Albert Einstein, you’ll notice that they’ve all failed—sometimes often and spectacularly. It’s extremely rare for someone to steadily climb forward in their career without any major setbacks.
Everyone experiences setbacks at one time or another. The only people who haven’t encountered this are those who never took any chances. There will always be bad breaks, heartaches and dashed hopes.
The trick is to get back up again, brush yourself off and keep on moving forward. Keep in mind—the more you try to achieve something, the greater amount of times you’ll fail. That’s okay, as it’s part of the process. Failing is a way to learn from your mistakes. Take stock of what you did right and the mistakes you made along the way. Then, hyperfocus on what you need to do to improve and grow, so you can succeed the next time around. You either win or learn. Life is one big learning session. The lessons learned from falling down will help pick you up in the future.
Engage With People
When you experience a career setback, it’s natural to withdraw. You don’t want to have to tell your family and friends that you lost your job or the promotion you told everyone about didn’t materialize. To avoid awkwardness in social settings, people pull back. They withdraw into a cocoon in their sanctuary, which is home.
This is the direct opposite of what you need to do. When you are experiencing career-related challenges, that’s the time to engage with people. You need to let others know what’s happening; they may have some answers for you or leads on new opportunities. They may have been down the same road and have some wisdom to impart. It feels better to get things off of your chest by sharing with others.
If you stop taking proactive actions, you actually move backward. In science, an object in motion stays in motion. Once something stops, it’s hard to start up again. You need to keep pushing forward—even if you only want to pull the covers over your head and stay in bed all day.