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Stay positive during an extended job search

Tips for staying positive

If you’re one of the millions of Americans seeking work in a still-recovering U.S. economy, you may be job hunting for a prolonged period. So how do you stay positive for the long haul and keep your self-esteem intact?

Behave as if you still had a job, advises Leslie Baker, MA, a licensed marriage and family therapist and an instructor in the master’s in counseling program at the University of Phoenix Bay Area Campus.

Here, Baker shares how to stay upbeat during an extended job search:

Maintain your routine.

Just because you don’t have to be somewhere at 9 am doesn’t mean you shouldn’t approach your day with the same rigor you did when you had a job.

“Set an alarm and begin by getting up, showering and getting dressed as if you were going to work,” Baker recommends. “In my experience, people feel better when they get into a regular habit of doing this.”

Establish daily objectives.

“You should have four to five goals to reach by the end of each business day,” Baker suggests.

They don’t have to be monumental tasks, she notes. But doing small things — updating your resumé or LinkedIn® profile, exploring a catalog for courses to update your skills or reaching out to a former colleague to schedule lunch — will make you feel more productive than waiting for responses to job applications.

Don’t be a couch potato.

“Moving your body by doing exercise or playing sports increases your endorphins and the ‘feel-good stuff’ in your brain,” Baker says. “Because of this, it’s absolutely critical to maintain an exercise regimen several times a week while you are involved in a protracted job search.”

When in doubt, go out.

“Humans are connecting animals,” Baker says. “We like to interact with each other, and it makes us feel better to do so.” Although you can get hired for jobs by sending formal applications, Baker notes, “Oftentimes, the old adage is true: It’s more about who you know.”

From Meetup® groups, which offer networking events organized by local individuals, to industry conferences and concerts in the park, there are lots of free and low-cost opportunities to meet and socialize with people.

“Even if you don’t meet someone that leads directly to a job, you will likely feel better doing something that takes you out into the world than you would staying at home,” Baker emphasizes.

Give yourself a break.

As with any full-time job, you need time away from your job search.

“If possible, take weekends off from goal-oriented activities, and spend time on hobbies you enjoy that have absolutely nothing to do with searching for employment,” Baker advises. By putting your search on hold for a couple of days at a time, she says, you can “return to your goals with a refreshed perspective.”

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