Actionable Ways to Stay Motivated When Job Searching

It can feel like there’s nothing more de-motivating than a frustrating job search—particularly if you’ve been at it for a while and have already received some rejections. In fact, Hired’s research uncovered that the perceived stress of looking for a job is more prevalent than the perceived stress for that of most all other notoriously stressful activities — including moving, planning a wedding, getting a root canal, and being trapped in an elevator.

These tips can help you get back in the game, and stay motivated throughout your search: 

Set small, actionable goals

There’s no getting around it: “Get a new job” is a huge, daunting goal. Rather than getting frustrated by feeling you’re not making progress towards it, set smaller, measurable goals to help give yourself a sense of achievement throughout the job search. Goals might include things like:

  • Reach out to X people in relevant roles/companies/industries per day on LinkedIn
  • Go to one relevant event every two weeks 
  • Apply for X jobs per week
  • Get CV feedback from X friends/colleagues/mentors
  • Practice X interview questions per day
  • Do face-to-face interview practice with X different people

Your goals should be specific to you and the type of job you’re looking for, so don’t take this to be an exhaustive list. And remember that many of these activities can help to expand your network and benefit your career in the long-term, so you can think of the work you do towards them as a career exercise, rather than just something that benefits your immediate job search.

Give yourself a break

Just as you can burn out on a job if you don’t give yourself room to breathe, the same applies to a job search. Whether you take an hour, a day, or a week off, figure out what works best to reset and recharge your job hunting batteries, and be sure to give yourself this periodic time allowance. 

One of the main risks of burning out on the job search is that you’ll waste your time and effort applying and interviewing for jobs you don’t actually want—which is not only a waste of your time, but also creates the potential of burning bridges with the companies you interview with. 

Taking some time off to think critically about what you want—and which sort of company and role can offer that—lessens the chances that you’ll get distracted from your main goals, and will likely increase your productivity as well. 

Seek advice

Reaching out to people who have the job(s) you want is not only a way of expanding your network, but can also help you to stay motivated. After a few rejections, it’s easy to get into a negative spiral of thinking you don’t have the skills, pedigree, etc. to get your dream job. Speaking to someone who can give you a fresh perspective on how your resume and background is perceived, however, can serve as a much needed confidence boost—even if their feedback isn’t all positive. It can also be eye-opening to hear other people’s career journeys, particularly if they have a job you aspire to. 

Start by asking around your network to see if your friends and colleagues can recommend anyone great in your career field. But don’t feel limited by your immediate connections—reach out cold to people you’d love to have a conversation with, as many people are happy to take 30 minutes to provide advice and guidance. 

Tell yourself nice things

It can feel a bit phony, but there’s value in re-affirming your strengths and valuable qualities. Keep a list of your favorite things about yourself, particularly in the work context, as a reminder of where you shine. Review your list when you’re feeling down or unmotivated for a quick boost. 

In addition to pulling you out of a slump, having confidence in your strengths can help in interviews. Every candidate has weaknesses, so your task isn’t to conceal them, but rather to demonstrate how they’re outweighed by positive qualities. Being well-versed in and able to exhibit those qualities during an interview means the hiring team won’t have to guess at what they are, putting you in a stronger position to discuss why you’d be great for the job—rather than feeling you’re always defending your weaknesses. 

About the Author

Napala Pratini

Napala is a consultant to early-stage technology companies. Prior to going independent, Napala led marketing initiatives across both consumer and B2B fintech for employers including NerdWallet and Earnest. In past lives she was a ballet dancer and a cancer researcher.