Searching for a job, particularly when making a change or returning to the workforce after time out, seems easy at first – we jump online, reconnect with our network and think ‘voila’, here I am, I’m ready for my next career adventure – but then days turn into weeks and weeks sometimes turn into months and we find it all becoming a bit tiring and the thing that really gets challenged is our confidence. At the start we were feeling energetic, even exhilarated. After a while, when we hit a few setbacks, we start to think this is getting too hard, and then we start to question ourselves and our abilities and whether we are actually capable of pulling off what we want.
Creating confidence throughout the job search can be one of the most fundamental things you can do for yourself. Maintaining concentration and motivation is one thing, but your confidence is another. So let’s look at a few ways you can be nice to yourself throughout the job search and maintain a certain level of confidence to keep you striving for the career you want. As the picture implies, think of yourself as your own boss and try some of the following tips to create and maintain your confidence throughout the job search:
Set weekly goals for yourself
And achieve the bulk of them. Proving to yourself each week that you are getting somewhere reinforces your confidence.
Don’t do it alone
In the past few years during this economically challenging and high unemployment period there have been numerous groups that have been birthed specifically for job search networking and support. This means you don’t have to do it alone! If you can’t find an actual group in your region, I encourage you to identify a “job search partner” with whom you can create an accountability and support system.
Too often we define ourselves only by what we do for money. But I am quite sure you play more roles in your life than employee. Maybe you are a terrific mother or father, volunteer, trustworthy friend or the “dependable one” in your family. Spend time with people who remind you that you are not alone, and who reinforce those roles. Their positive feedback will reflect your value as a human being with a heart and soul, not just an employee who is currently between jobs.
Surround yourself with positive energy
Yes, this sound might sound a bit “hocus pocus”, but give it a try and see how it works for you. If you’re having trouble maintaining your confidence, be sure to spend time with people who naturally have a positive view of themselves. Observe their behaviour and model yours after what you see working for them. This isn’t about being something that you are not, but rather employing strategies that will make it easier for you to tap into your own self-confidence.
Research has clearly demonstrated that doing volunteer work has a positive impact on health, self-esteem and general wellbeing. If you are a volunteer or have strong community involvement, perhaps take on a bigger role in those arenas. Your interaction with people in these environments will reinforce the diversity of your skills, experience and reflect your value.
Shift your perspective
It is important to shift your perspective by remembering that whether or not you are actually qualified for a job is not the only variable in a job search. There are hiring managers, other candidates, organisational politics and even timing that influence a hiring decision. When a hiring decision isn’t made in your favour, try not to take it personally, it can come down to a variable in the job search that has changed.
Eat sensibly and exercise
It has been proven time and again that a supportive diet along with regular exercise help to maintain energy levels, positive self-image, health and abate depression. Maintaining a positive self-image is critical during a job search. You want to be able to put your best foot forward every time you meet with a prospective employer or make a networking contact.
Practice gratitude and celebrate your wins
I strongly encourage you to keep a gratitude notebook or record your wins. There is no denying that things can get tough — really tough on all levels (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) during a long and seemingly arduous job search. Taking five minutes out of each day to write in a journal about the things for which you are a grateful or celebrating your wins can go a very long way in shifting your attention away from the negative and on to the more positive aspects of your life. This will help you experience greater sense of wellbeing and even joy.
Take the time necessary to acknowledge yourself. One way, which will also help prepare you for interviews, is to make a list of all of your key professional accomplishments. Also, remember, your accomplishments are not limited to the professional arena. Identify any life accomplishments you have had, perhaps as a parent raising children, a caregiver to an ill loved one or in volunteer work.
Practice positive self-talk
When something in the job search doesn’t go as planned, particularly when we feel we had control over the situation, it is easy to spiral into negative thinking patterns instilled with self-judgment. It’s important to become aware of these patterns so that you can avoid dwelling in a sea of negativity.
When you do become aware of negative thought patterns or judgments I encourage you to ask yourself this question: “Would I talk to a best friend the way I am talking to myself right now?” The answer more often than not I am quite sure will be no. This is a perfect opportunity to shift this pattern and begin practicing “positive self-talk.”
Imagine a time when you felt really confident
An exercise that I find helpful in building up my confidence is to think about a time during which I felt extremely self-assured. What were the conditions surrounding that situation that made it so? Visualise yourself back in that moment, as this will help create a positive mindset and help you shift your perspective, creating that confident you again.
If you are currently experiencing challenges in your job search I strongly urge you to employ even just one or two of these tips and am confident that if you commit to them they will support you in shifting your perspective, increasing your energy and adding some grace to the process!