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Nurturing Yourself During a Job Search

Sep 2, 2008
Job searches are stressful. It does not matter how confident, up-beat and self-assured you are at the start, once you begin e-mailing dozens of resumes that get no response, going on great job interviews that go nowhere, and receiving polite rejection letters, eventually it will take a toll on your psyche. Maintaining a positive attitude is one the most important things you can do to make sure you are in a great job at the end of the process but it is easier said than done.

To start with, it is important to remember two things. Number one, finding a job is the most difficult job you will likely ever have. If you can do this, you can do just about anything! Number two, it does not matter if you are Jane Doe or Donald Trump, if you work at your job search diligently every day, experience tells me that it will take you approximately 30 to 90 days to find a great job. It is going to take some time but it will not take forever. I promise!

Not supporting yourself emotionally and physically during this time is exactly what you should not be doing! By implementing a few key practices, you can stave off frustration, fear and boredom and keep yourself motivated, excited and the type of candidate most employers are eager to meet. These are not secrets; in fact, the list here applies to life in general. Who would have thought that the habits you develop during a job search could energize the rest of your career?

1. Stay in Shape: Okay, if you are out of shape when your job search starts, then this would be more aptly titled "Get in Shape." This does not mean spending hours at a gym, but it does mean getting physical exercise on a daily basis. Movement gets your blood pumping and helps generate endorphins. You will feel better, think better and look better. Step away from the computer at least once a day and hit the gym or the walking trail.

2. Eat Well: This does not mean going to four- or five-star restaurants; this means eating healthy, balanced meals that serve to fuel your body. It is well-known that eating foods high in carbohydrates and sugars put weight on the body and mess with our metabolism and mood. Do not give in to foods that will sabotage your job search intentions!

3. Meditate: By sitting quietly for 10-20 minutes per day, you allow your mind to clear and give yourself the chance to "go within." Staying in touch with your spiritual side helps tremendously during a job search. Meditation provides time for ideas and issues to bubble up and gives you the opportunity to address them rather than just stuffing them down...never a good practice but particularly toxic during a job search.

4. Journal: The response to this is usually "Ugh, I don't know what to write!" That is okay. Give yourself permission to write whatever comes up for you; frustrations, excitement or angry rants. It is particularly helpful to journal after a job interview...it does not have to be anything specific, just stream-of-consciousness stuff. Eventually you will begin to see themes and insights emerging that will help move you closer to your dreams. An important note: if you are using an online journal, adjust the privacy settings so that prospective employers cannot access your deepest darkest thoughts!

5. Live Your Life: It is easy for a job search to completely overwhelm your life. This is especially true if money is getting tight. However, focusing 24/7 on your job search will not serve you or the ones you love well. Maintaining interest in other people, the world, the economy, politics, volunteering your time, whatever captures your awareness, helps keep you well-rounded and interesting (i.e. the type of person hiring managers want to meet.) Withdrawing and only concerning yourself with your job search is a quick way to desperation (i.e. exactly the type of person hiring mangers hope to avoid).

Taking care of yourself during a job search gives you the opportunity to put yourself first - perhaps for the first time in your life. Giving yourself the chance to grow, change and adopt a healthy outlook makes you an attractive and interesting job seeker. Plus, you may learn some habits that will positively impact the rest of your life. Now that is turning a negative into a positive!
About the Author
Pat Faber-Garey, Worklife Agility Coach, brings two decades of workforce transition management to bear in helping business leaders take advantage of change. A published author, her book is used as a university textbook. She is a regular speaker and industry source on workforce management and human resource development topics. Extreme Agility, LLC
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