An inspirational, yet practical, blog providing career advice for college students and others. Following this blog will enable you to gain a competitive advantage in the job market and achieve your career goals.
A major part of my job as a college career coach is to keep my
students motivated in the job search. During a recent appointment with an MBA
student, I asked her if she had any last questions. “Yes,” she said, “how do I
maintain my confidence level in the job search?” Good question!
The job search can be tough – no doubt about it – especially in
competitive career fields and job markets. The ultimate key to success in
landing a job is not your experience, not your expertise and not your
networking prowess. Pure and simple, it is your perseverance. As an unknown
author once said, “Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch
that opens the lock.”
With graduation fast approaching, I’m finding that many of my
meetings with students involve some kind of pep talk to keep them motivated in
their job search. But college students aren’t the only ones who need
motivational coaching to persevere. The tips below apply to anyone and everyone in
job search mode.
At first glance, this tip seems negative, but it isn’t. If you
go into the job search with realistic expectations, you’ll be less likely to
feel defeated so easily. No team wins every game and no one gets every job they
apply to. The sooner you accept this reality, the better. Approach your job
search with the understanding that chances are you won’t get the first job you
apply to, or the second, or the third and remember that the average job search
can take three to six months, or longer.
Get Back in the Saddle
Repeat after me, “Not getting a job, does not necessarily mean
I’m not a strong candidate or that I’m not qualified,” and make this your daily
mantra. Not getting a job often means that you weren’t quite the right fit for
that particular position at that particular point in time. Just because a
company doesn’t think you were a good match for Position A, doesn’t mean you
won’t be the perfect fit for Position B. Job success will eventually be yours
if you continue to dust yourself off and get back in the saddle.
Don’t Dwell on the Past
Recently, I was meeting with a student who shared with me how
poorly she thought she performed at the last networking event she had attended.
Without hesitation, I responded, “That was then, this is now,” regarding the
upcoming career fair should she would be attending. If you performed less than
optimally at some points during your job search, learn from your mistakes and
Have a Support System
Who do you know that wholeheartedly believes in you and your
abilities? Perhaps it’s a trusted mentor, or close friend or relative. If you
can’t think of anyone in your own circle, find a career or life coach who can
encourage and motivate you. Make a point of speaking to this person often
during your job search to express your frustrations and get the confidence and
ego boost you need.
Consider joining networking and job search support groups. The Riley Guideprovides
links to many resources on this topic, and you can also find support groups on Meetup.
Quit Taking it Personally
Many people beat up on themselves if they don’t get the job.
They believe that they didn’t get it because of something they did wrong. This
isn’t necessarily the case. You can do everything right and still not get the
job. Why? Because someone else was just slightly more qualified, or had a
networking connection, or was an internal candidate, etc., etc. Remember: It
wasn’t necessarily about you.
Have a Sense of Purpose
Yes, you need to spend a part of your day searching and applying
for jobs and, yes, you need to spend a percentage of your week in networking
activities. Beyond that, however, you should find things to do that keep you
active and engaged and boost your confidence. Consider getting involved with a
community organization, taking a class or learning a new hobby.
Every time you get an interview, consider it a success and
celebrate it! The fact that you got an interview tells you that your resume is
strong and presents you as a well-qualified candidate. Plus, you made the cut
out of many other applicants. Even if you don’t get the job, at least you got
the interview and a chance to network with professionals in your field.
Avoid the Naysayers
Everyone you meet is going to have some horror story about their
job search or their friend’s job search. Don’t pay attention to them. Their
story is not your story. People will readily share grim statistics about the
job market in general or your career field in particular. A very good friend of
mine recently proved the naysayers wrong. As a woman of a “certain age,” she
landed the job of her dreams – and it was the very first one she applied to!
Had she listened to the naysayers about the inability to find jobs at her age,
she never would be where she is today.