How to stay positive when you can’t find a job

A job hunt is a challenging task. The longer you’re on the lookout for a new job, the more likely you’re going to start feeling frustrated. The trick is not to get down on yourself (or the process). How do you do that? We have some suggestions.

Instead of telling you to explore your spirituality or be more kind, though, we’ve put together a few tips to show you:

  • What a job hunt looks like for the typical job seeker
  • What you can do to stay sane
  • How to boost your chances of landing a new job.

Armed with that knowledge, you should be able to stave off the worst bouts of self-doubt and frustration. Here’s how to stay positive during a job hunt.

Understanding the odds

  • Corporate job offers attract an average of 250 to 350 applicants. About five of these will get invited to a job interview, and obviously, just one gets the job.
  • Why do I bring up this depressing fact? Because with odds like this, you must face facts: rejection is the name of the game when searching for a job. And if those numbers underscore anything, it’s that you need to keep at it.
  • You might get lucky every now and again and find a job on your first application, but because of the competition, it usually takes much longer. The key thing to remember is that the more you try, the more you improve your odds.
  • Keep calm and carry on.

So, how much time will it take to find a job?

Getting a new job takes time. In a survey we did in September 2018, 50% of respondents claimed it took approximately 16 weeks to land their most recent job.

Apart from searching for a job, the actual interview process also takes up quite a good chunk of time. According to International Recruiter Study called The Martec Group’s 2017 Recruiter Sentiment Study, the majority of job offers are presented between three to six weeks (often including anywhere from one to three interviews before even getting to that stage).

What might prove frustrating is that going through this process doesn’t guarantee you a job. You might lose out on the opportunity at the last minute, or worse, you might find something about the company or position that turns you off.

The 2017 Recruiter Sentiment Study also suggests that about a quarter of all offers get turned down because the potential employer and employee don’t see eye-to-eye on compensation and salary ranges (the main reason for saying “thanks, but no thanks, “however, is getting a better offer elsewhere, so it’s not all bad!). This also happens in our Country.

So, you might be ready to jump into your next professional challenge, but you have to remember that things take time.

What can I do to fight off the job search blues?

Now that you know the basic HR stats and figures behind the recruitment process, it will be easier to focus on what you can do to stay positive.

Tip #1 Think of it as a marathon…

As mentioned above, finding a job isn’t a 100-meter dash; it’s a marathon. Take your time. You’ve got to pace yourself because otherwise you might hit the wall even before you get your first invitation to an interview.

Focus on sending one or two quality applications per day. By “quality,” I mean tailoring your resume and cover letter to each specific job posting.

Tip #2 Think of it as a job…

On average, job seekers spend 11 hours a week looking for a job. Where do end up on that scale? Figure out how much time you need to spend looking for jobs, resume writing, applying, and networking, and then get organized.

Put in the time and the effort, but once you’re done for the day, you’re done for the day. Don’t let your job-hunting efforts consume every minute of your waking day. If you do, this is when frustration (and despair) can set in.

Tip #3 Rethink your career…

Being flexible and searching for career alternatives is a good way to keep things interesting, and open doors that you might not have realized existed.

Applying for jobs that don’t seem like obvious choices can be liberating; there are no expectations, after all. If you get an interesting job that strays from your current career path, great. If you don’t, no big deal.

Tip #4 …but don’t overthink it!

It’s easy to get caught up in the job hunt – especially if things don’t seem to be going your way.

At some point, you’ll feel like you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns. Exercise common sense, and don’t get stuck rephrasing each and every passage of your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Yes, you need to be tailoring (updating) your resume to job descriptions, but a good resume sent is better than a great resume saved for further editing.

Tip #5 Stay relevant and experiment

Recruiters often find gaps in employment problematic, but don’t be afraid if that’s what you’re dealing with.

Be honest, and focus on demonstrating transferable skills. The idea is to focus on activities that can show employers how valuable you can be.

Good examples are:

  • Volunteering shows a willingness to help others and often involves event management and fund raising.
  • Personal projects from building a website to running a book club can be a great way to display time management and organizational skills.
  • Sports and hobbies can show determination, passion, teamwork, and communication skills, all of which are valued in a workplace.

You can also highlight any skills training you might have done…and if you’re not taking the time to refresh your skills, maybe you should consider it? There is an abundance of free, relevant online courses offered by respectable companies and institutions.

Here’s the bottom line

Landing a job takes time and effort. Think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint: (They stumble that run fast). Take your time. You can’t go all out all day every day. Do what you have to do, be smart about it, and above all, stay positive.

Article by Ken Banda, Senior Technical Recruiter at Job Malawi aka Vacorn HR

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