Restoring Your Joy in Job Search

Miriam Salpeter (@Keppie_Careers) and I are delighted to co-coordinate the February Career Collective, a community of career advisors and resume writers blogging together on behalf of job seekers.

This month’s articles address how to overcome discouragement in job search. Please follow our hashtag, #careercollective, on Twitter. Responses from other contributors are linked at the end of this post. You may also wish to visit us at www.careercollective.net.

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Joy was palpable as the oversized airplane plane descended onto the tiny tropical landing strip. The pilot forcefully applied brake pressure, wings wobbled and dear, flying-averse hubby squeezed his fingers tightly into my arm as the plane safely landed.  Applause erupted and a plane-FULL of passengers, many of whose travel had been delayed several days due to winter storms, were elated to finally embark on their Key West adventure.

This spirited introduction belies the full story of our Winter 2010 vacation get-away, as just two days into the long-awaited event (we’d been planning this trip for 6 months), I fell sick with a wicked, and somewhat debilitating cold virus that I still battle today.

As with most who experience life’s unexpectedly altered plans, my hubby and I first expressed upset and disappointment, then adjusted, simply, ‘dealing’ with the reality of my less than 100%  involvement in our dream vacation — the first either of us had planned in over a decade.

Discouraging? Yes. Insurmountable? No. Akin to a disappointing job search, a vacation derailed by sickness, often can be resurrected, reshaped and reinvigorated. Here’s how:

* Visit the local pharmacy. Hubby promptly shepherded me to the local CVS Pharmacy for an investment in Dayquil and Excedrin. I immediately dosed myself with a capful of the liquid cold solution, and I felt some relief, allowing me to focus on the trip agenda at hand.

* Likewise, job seekers, consider the stifling effects of a protracted, discouraging job search as you tick off another month, 3 months, 6 months, even 1 year-plus of  looking — then find a salve that will provide initial relief from the distress and anxiety you feel, so you can positively concentrate on refocusing and remapping your job search efforts.

* Everyone’s salve will be unique to his/her own situation. It may come in the form of an activity – something and/or someone that you engage with that will produce endorphins, positivity and hope. This might simply involve planning a weekend away from the search with friends and loved ones that make you laugh and stir your optimism.

* Or, it may mean incorporating a daily exercise into your routine, a visit to the gym that will provide both social and physical stimulation, or becoming involved in a local church other spiritual or social group that has nothing to do with job search and has everything to do with your inner (and outer) well-being.

* Perhaps a visit with a career counselor will allay some of your angst.Or, a consultation with a career coaching / resume strategist who will shine clarity on your goals and/or career messaging strategy may help.  Most such career medicine, if prescribed by a credentialed, experienced professional is designed to allay your unique condition and spark a healthier, more robust go-forward path. You don’t have to commit right away; simply reach out to such a pro and request an exploratory, complimentary consultation. Just the motion of this activity may create traction and a sense of relief that you’re ‘doing something.’

* Today’s job search is unique from and takes longer than last year’s or last decades’ job search, and flailing about with the old techniques, pulling from bits and pieces of free advice from the Internet, the library or from your friends to build your search strategy probably won’t cut it. This is the time to invest in your future. And there’s no one-size-fit-all service or product. Do the footwork, risk a little of yourself to uncover the rewards. Do, then redo, then reshape and revisit and maintain momentum.

* Look inward. With my hubby’s prompting, I took this opportunity to look inward. Though I couldn’t reverse the virus’ grip, I took responsibility and the opportunity to reflect on how I might improve my own fitness (physically, mentally and emotionally) to possibly prevent a recurrence, or at the least, reduce the odds of this illness repeating.

* During this introspection, I reluctantly identified the word, ‘sedentary’ as one word that describes my day-to-day ‘norm.’ The plight of a writer? Perhaps! Or, maybe a self-induced situation I can change through plan-ful action steps that involve increased daily movement, an improved diet and a changed, overall lifestyle. I blogged about my aha moments earlier this week, here.

* Maintaining a strong mind and body or finding myself a broken heap on the floor are directly a result of how I manage my situation, day, after day, after day … after day. And the processes of self-management always are evolving, and so I always must have my eye on how to adapt, even if during the most inconvenient of circumstances, and even if midstream. Over the years I’ve invested in coaches and virtual assistants to prop me up and push me forward more efficiently and more smartly. From time to time, I must be reminded with a swift kick that I must reach out and seek their help to do even better.

* As well, job seekers, I encourage you to look inward at what has become your job search norm these past few weeks, months or longer. What job search lifestyle habits might you adjust, remove or transform to boost your job search momentum and vitality? Are you spending an inordinate amount of time online, with minimal results? Are you dressing up and attending networking, networking and more networking  events, but to no avail?

* Maybe it’s time to switch it up. Often, it’s a matter of trying just one new idea, or turning left when you’re used to turning right for example. Then try another idea, and another. Don’t give up. You’ll get there, but you must remain flexible and forward-thinking. You must not look at the elapsed time and feel you have no more time. As long as you are breathing, there’s still more time.

* Sometimes we get so caught up in doing it the perceived ‘right way,’ that we forget to follow our own instincts. Use your ‘gut’ today and see what happens. Instincts, if left untended, often start to feel unnatural, but over time, with exercise, those instinctual muscles begin to warm up … and strengthen.  Being instinctual doesn’t always equate to being so different that you stand out like a sore thumb. It might simply be applying a different shade of gray, or nuance to your job search communication and presentation style or to a particular job search activity.

* Dawn Lennon over at her Business Fitness blog shares an inspiring story of how her unconventional, yet instinctual actions and being ‘ fearless’ helped her turn around her career. Read it here: you won’t be disappointed, and you just might get inspired!

* Don’t always follow the pack and focus on modeling someone else’s resume or interview style or networking tactic. Be yourself, with a twist and a dose of learning from others. Combine what you’re being told with what you know is YOU and what you sense is sensible, smart and savvy.

* As a resume writer, for example, I know, first hand that the resume CONTENT is what rocks the interview world. Put blinders on, if you will, with regard to all the tedious rules of resume length, etc., and keep your eye on the creative story-telling aspect of career messaging. Build YOURSELF into your target readers’ story.

* And be willing to skin your virtual knee from time to time, because, through this, you will continue to get knocked around a bit.

* Finally, find someone who will hold your needs in the highest of esteem while also regarding YOUR best interests in compelling you to be BETTER. Someone who will NOT let you off the hook when you under-perform but who will continually compliment your efforts while also helping you find ways to shore up your weaknesses.

Clearly, a silver-bullet answer does not exist, but results will happen, if you maintain momentum, hope and a practical, responsive attitude. Traction does beget traction, and the hopeful optimist in me believes the end of any bad situation will come, just give it time, and don’t ever, ever, ever, EVER give up.


@MartinBuckland, Job Search Made Positive

@GayleHoward, Job Search: When It All Turns Sour

@chandlee, Strategy for Getting “Unstuck” and Feeling Better: Watch Lemonade

@heathermundell, Help for the Job Search Blues

@heatherhuhman, 10 Ways to Turn You Job Search Frown Upside-Down

@KCCareerCoach, You Can Beat the Job Search Blues: 5 + 3 Tips to Get Re-Energized

@WalterAkana, Light at the End of the Tunnel

@LaurieBerenson, Ways to Keep Your Glass Half Full

@resumeservice, Don’t Sweat the Job Search

@careersherpa, Mind Over Matter: Moving Your Stalled Search Forward

@WorkWithIllness, Finding Opportunity in Quicksand

@KatCareerGal, Job-Hunting in a Weak Job Market: 5 Strategies for Staying Upbeat (and Improving Your Chances of Success)

@ErinKennedyCPRW, Dancing in the Rain–Kicking the Job Search Blues

@keppie_careers, What do do when you are discouraged with your job search

@DawnBugni, It’s the little things

@jobhuntorg, Just SO VERY Discouraged

@barbarasafani Making Job Search Fun (Yeah, That’s Right!)

@GLHoffman, How to Overcome the Job Search Negativity

@ExpatCoachMegan, Dealing With Job Search Stress: Getting to the Source of the Problem


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Explore posts in the same categories: Career Encouragement, Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, resume

17 Comments on “Restoring Your Joy in Job Search”


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  7. Jacqui – There is so much great advice here, I hardly know where to start agreeing with you! I particularly love the reminder to go with your “gut.” Instinct is so often pushed to the side in an effort to follow the “rules” and do everything by the imaginary “book.” Thanks for the many terrific ideas!

  8. Dawn Lennon Says:

    Exceptional advice to move us; compelling wisdom to inspire us! Miriam is so right that this post is a landslide of help ripe for the taking. I’m struck by your theme of not continuing on paths that aren’t netting much…like that old definition of insanity: doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result. Old habits are tough to break but, to achieve what we want, we must.

    This is a fabulous post and I am touched beyond words to be held up as a useful example. Thanks for the confidence and the opportunity to perhaps inspire others.

    ~Dawn

  9. Gayle Howard Says:

    A terrific article Jacqui and great analogies with your own situation. A lot of great advice there! You’re right in saying that the silver bullet, “the big solution to all of your troubles” doesn’t exist for anyone, anywhere on any topic really, but there are certainly a lot of things to be done to mix it up, patch it with salve, and brighten the mood if only temporarily to relieve the misery. Sometimes if you just pretend things are ok, it can be enough to get you through an interview or a coffee with friends. Taking a sojourn from one-topic thinking by just doing something different can be incredibly worthwhile (even if it’s not a solution).

  10. Meg Montford Says:

    Great analogy and so inspiring! All job seekers need to read this. Hope you’re feeling better now…


  11. Jacqui: Wonderfully written, as always!
    Resiliency = ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.
    (Thought you would like the buoyancy part of this definition).
    Your suggestions provide the insight on how to increase the opportunities for resiliency on all fronts!

  12. Dawn Bugni Says:

    Jacqui –

    Brilliant reminder that while we are not always in charge of the circumstances, we ARE in charge of how we react to them.

    It’s awful you got a cold on your well-deserved vacation, but BRAVO for not letting a cold spoil the entire trip. You suggestions for changing things up, being introspective and not fearing asking for help are solid, back-to-basic techniques to get back in control.

    As per the norm Jacqui, wonderful information! Thanks!


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