How to Make It Through an Extra-Long Job Search

Not many people consider a job search to be fun. It’s stressful to speak to recruiters, prepare for interviews, sit down with CEOs and weigh different offers. But each step will be even more difficult if the job search stretches for an extended period.

Job searches aren’t always simple. Depending on the specificity of your career path, as well as the amount of money you hope to rake in, it could take a while to find the perfect fit. And that explanation doesn’t even begin to consider the fact that the economy is always changing — you might have to wait for positions to open before you can even start applying.

But you’re not looking for an explanation as to why it’s taking so long — you want to know how to get through the process as it drags on. Here are six tips for doing so.

1. Erase Any Victim Mentality

The first step to surviving this jobless stretch is to stop feeling sorry for yourself as soon as possible. Many job searchers fall into a victim mentality, but fortunately, it’s easy to dig yourself out.

Start by pinpointing exactly the type of victim you’re playing. In this case, you’re probably feeling like you’re continually getting rejections. That could lead you to believe no one will hire you because you’re not worthy of the positions for which you’re applying. In reality, a mere 2 percent of applicants even get to the interview stage, so you’re not alone. The more resumes you send out, the more likely it is that one — or two, or three — will stick, so don’t give up.

2. Clear Your Mind

Because you have yet to find a job, you might think you should focus your energy on your search 24/7. However, this can lead you to feel discouraged very quickly, especially if the task drags on for weeks or months.

So, break up the search by doing things you enjoy — especially if they’re things that have nothing to do with your professional aspirations. Take a workout class, pick up a new hobby or even just meet your friends for drinks. These sorts of activities will not only clear your mind, but they’ll also leave you feeling refreshed and ready to apply for a new slate of jobs.

3. Build a Routine

In a similar vein, you might find yourself bored by your day-to-day life now that it doesn’t include the challenge and responsibility of a full-time job. So, build yourself a routine that keeps you busy without burning you out.

Set an alarm and get out of bed at a certain time each day. Drink your morning beverage and prepare breakfast. Then, carve out a particular number of hours per day to search for and apply to jobs. Choose a time that’s long enough to make several meaningful applications without overdoing it. You can also take time for further professional development by reaching out to contacts who might know of job openings, brushing up your resume, updating your online portfolio, etc.

Having a rough schedule in place will make you feel grounded, even though you’re not sure what’s next. And, in a time of instability, a bit of structure will make things infinitely smoother for you.

4. Plug the Hole Short-Term

If you find yourself struggling financially, you might have to consider taking on a short-term gig to stay afloat until you find the right job offer. If you have professional experience, you might be able to find opportunities to stay in your field and consult or freelance. Perhaps you could provide coverage for someone’s maternity leave, or even accept a part-time job in your industry until something more permanent — and more demanding — becomes available.

None of these would take up so much of your time that you’d miss out on applying for other opportunities, either. Stay on top of your daily search so the short-term solution doesn’t become a long-term one.

5. Try a New Approach

We already mentioned the possibility of reaching out to old contacts to see if they’re aware of any job openings. That’s just one way to shake up your job search, and you should implement as many switches as you can when the whole thing starts feeling stagnant.

So, consider the oft-forgotten job search tenets that make a difference. Be sure you have completed your LinkedIn profile, and that it’s as detailed as possible. Tailor your resume to every application you submit. And send a thank-you card after you’ve had the chance to interview. These steps aren’t reinventing the wheel, but they’re definitely greasing up the axle to make things roll more smoothly. Don’t be afraid to try a new approach.

6. Ask for Help

When all else fails, reach out to the pros. Aside from your network, you might be able to meet with a recruiter or headhunter who places people in your industry. Or, you could link up with a career counselor who will prepare you for interviews, spruce up your resume and impart other wisdom that will further ready you for your new position. Let six months be your benchmark — if you’ve been searching for longer than a half-year, enlist the help of a pro.

How have you gotten — or how are you getting — through an extra-long job search? Let us know in the comments section below. And, while you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter, so you don’t miss out on any work-related tips, tricks or hacks in the future.

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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