Job Search: How To Stay Busy, Sane and Confident When You’re Unemployed
Looking for a job is tough for anyone, whether you're employed or not. And for many of us it's even tougher to stay busy – or confident or even sane! Job search can sometimes feel like one kick after another to your self-esteem. And it's a lot harder to sell yourself to a new employer with a black & blue sense of self worth!
While you don't have much control over how an employer responds to you or just how soon you will get an actual job offer, there are things you can do. Not only can you find ways to help you get through a lengthy job search while retaining your sense of who you really are, but you can also help improve your chances of being seen as someone an employer would love to hire.
Unemployment can sap your energy & confidence
It's important for you to know that the energy a job candidate gives off during any job search contributes to the impression they make with a potential employer, or even when networking for leads and support. The more you can keep your energy and attitude up, the better impression you leave. I remember doing a group interview once for an IT help desk manager position.
We interviewed 6 candidates at once for an initial in-person screening interview. (BTW … this wasn't my idea nor do I recommend it.) Four of the six candidates were not employed at the time, and only two of them (we hired them both) gave off a feeling of self-confidence and positive energy that we believed could inspire others. After all … if you know how to stay inspired during tough times, such as an extended period of unemployment, that's a quality you will probably carry with you to the job.
Polishing the image you give off / impression you leave
The image you give off is not something you can just easily don like a mask, although some people are admittedly better than others at acting positive even if they don't feel it. But during the pressure of an interview, you need to add some elements of real substance to that surface smile – especially if you want to leave a strong impression. So what kinds of things help you do that? In my article How To Stay Sane (and Employable) While Looking for a Job, I talk about things like volunteering, taking classes, part-time or temp work, exercise and sports (to keep those endorphins happy), hobbies, support groups, and more.
I strongly recommend you read this and come up with your own ideas! These kinds of things can help you stay busy, happy and productive, all important for your mood and confidence. But they can also help with your resume, cover letter and interview answers, by giving you something meaty to fill in the gaps and talk about, showing you are someone who knows how to take advantage of your time to be productive.
Remembering who you are and how good you are
In the end, whether it's with the help of activities or support groups or your own new enterprise or helping others (great for the ego) or whatever you come up with to keep yourself going during an extended period of unemployment, what really matters is how you feel about yourself. So don't let well-meaning friends or family or rejections or anything keep you from remembering how good you really are and how much of an asset you will be for the right employer.
Take on things during this period that reinforce your strengths and your sense of self-worth to the person who matters most … you! And who knows … you may even come up with something during this transition time that points you in a whole new direction you never imagined – and will enjoy even more. Downtime is a great time to find yourself, even while looking for a job.