How to stay motivated during a long job search

The decision to start looking for a new job is exciting, and your new career might be just around the corner.

Sometimes however, the journey takes a bit longer than expected and you can feel like you’re losing momentum. Weeks and even months may go by without a response. This could be for any number of reasons: there are limited roles available in your field, there aren’t many jobs on the market due to economic conditions, it’s the wrong time of year, or the interviewer decided to hire internally.

Regardless of the cause, it’s easy to become discouraged and unmotivated. The reality is that one of the biggest challenges you’ll face during the process is remaining positive and focused until you land the job. Finding a job requires time and resilience, so we’ve shared some tips for every stage of your job hunt.


Try micro-tasking
Even when your motivation is high, broad tasks like “find a job” and “network” can feel daunting. Instead, break up your job hunt into micro-tasks which are realistic and achievable. For example, set a goal to update a section of your resume each day, network with two new people each week, or apply for three jobs a week.

Search smarter, not harder
Looking for a job is not simply ‘a numbers game’. Many candidates take a scattergun approach and apply for almost every job they see online, and while applying online is something you should be doing, it’s not your only option. Take the time to network with hiring managers and people who work at companies you love - you may get access to the “hidden” jobs market, where jobs are undisclosed or referral only, and therefore have less competition.

Make friends with a recruiter
When you’re looking for a job, a recruiter can be your best friend. Recruiters are professionally trained to identify your skills and match you with a company looking for your talent and experience. A recruiter will constantly be on the lookout for opportunities for you, and will even help with pre-interview advice during the hiring process. They’ll provide constructive feedback after your interview too, so even if you don’t get the first job you go for, you’ll be in a stronger position next time. This can help to keep you motivated for the next role which comes up.

Join job search groups
It often helps to talk to people who are going through the same experience as you, and there are lots of professional sites which connect like-minded job seekers. Look for groups on LinkedIn and other networking sites to find communities that share job listings, tips and advice. Recruiters often target these groups, so you’ve got a better chance of getting noticed and hearing about the latest roles by joining.

Customise your CV and cover letter
This might seem obvious, but a common mistake that many people make is using exactly the same CV and cover letter for every job application. Every role is different and, while you don’t need to completely rewrite your CV from scratch for each opportunity, it’s worth taking the time to tailor it. Make sure your CV highlights the skills and work history most relevant for the job; check the person specification and job description to understand what – and who – they’re looking for. Read our blog on updating your CV in 2019 here.

Your cover letter should be tailored to every application, and addressed to the hiring manager if you can find their details. The effort to research this online, or to make a quick phone call to confirm their details, will be worth it. Mention how you found out about the job, and showcase your qualifications and experience which make you suitable for the role.

Customising your CV and cover letter when applying for a job can actually help keep you motivated – you’ll be sure that you’ve given the application your very best, and the process of highlighting what makes you a great candidate for the role is bound to boost your confidence.

Get constructive criticism
Aside from post-interview advice from your recruiter, friends and family are a great source of honest feedback throughout your job hunt, and can help you pinpoint areas that might need some work. Depending on what it is (interviews, CV writing, cover letters), you can get constructive (and free) advice– and it can also be really motivating to hear about your strong points, along with identifying the areas you can improve.

Employers value self-starters who are committed to developing their job skills. Once you start looking for jobs, take the opportunity to identify any gaps in your skillset or work experience, and pay attention to any development areas mentioned in interview feedback. There are plenty of opportunities to improve your skills, ranging from volunteering and interning, to short courses and online learning. If you’re changing careers or this will be your first job, emphasise your relevant transferrable skills that will make for a smooth transition into the
role. Read our blog on updating your CV when changing careers here.

Find a mentor
No matter what stage of your career you are at, partnering with a mentor is always beneficial. The right mentor will not only keep you motivated but also offer tips and advice on your job search and career as a whole. Try to find a mentor who works in your industry; they will not only be able to guide you with specific advice, but may also introduce you to other potential employers.

Ask for recommendations
Speak with any current or former colleagues and employers, and ask them to write you a small recommendation on your LinkedIn profile - LinkedIn even has a feature that has a template for this! These recommendations will keep your spirits up during the job search, and are important public signals to potential employers that your skills are valued.


Learn to accept rejection.

If you haven’t been successful for a job that you thought you were the perfect candidate for, it can be a difficult decision to accept. When this happens, it’s important that you learn to accept the interviewer’s decision and move on, rather than dwelling on what went wrong. Ask the recruiter or employer for feedback about your interview, and you can put their comments and advice into practice for next time.

Learn from your mistakes
Of course it’s disappointing to find out that an interview didn’t go well, but you can use this as an opportunity to improve. In addition to any feedback you’ve received, take the time to research the next company you interview for, and prepare your responses, especially ones to any tricky questions (such as explaining gaps in your work history).


Take a day off
Remember to look after your mental health during the job search. Finding a job doesn’t become any easier when you’re tired, and pushing yourself too much can lead to burnout. Schedule in free days where you turn off the computer and stop thinking about your CV, job applications and interview questions. A bit of downtime should mean you to return to your job search feeling rejuvenated, with a positive mindset. 

Stay active
Exercise is an important part of remaining healthy, and has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety as well as improving analytical skills and thinking power. Take the time to incorporate some exercise into your routine. This could be anything, from going for a walk around the block to heading to the gym or enjoying a yoga class.

Look at the big picture
Finally, take a step back and realise that this situation is only temporary. Although you may be tired and frustrated, you will eventually find a job - it’s just a matter of time. The important thing is to persevere and stay motivated, because your dream job could be just around the corner.

If you need help updating your CV or to find out about our latest roles, contact your local Adecco branch and connect with a recruiter today!

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