Five Ways to Maintain Self-Esteem While Job Hunting


Your job search doesn't have to be a life-sucking process. Here are five ways to stay positive.

Seven years ago, I took a risk. After my husband and I sat down and did the math, I resigned from my employer of 13 years and opted for a part-time contract position closer to home.

However, it wasn’t long before I knew that this new job wasn’t the one for me. The pace was slow. The assignments were mundane. I was miserable. In just a matter of weeks, we did the math again. I left my new job… with no idea where I would end up next!

I quickly discovered that job hunting wore on my self-esteem. I often felt isolated. I often didn’t know what direction to take from day-to-day. The key to staying positive was to care for myself in five key ways:

1. Focus on your strengths

StrengthsFinder 2.0  by Tom Rath was by far the best resource I found to help keep my chin up. I gained a keen understanding of what I could offer to the world through my top five strengths (the book comes with a code to access a free online assessment–make sure to buy a brand new book to take advantage of this feature).

On top of that, I learned a language that became helpful in job interviews. When the common question of “what are your strengths?” came up, I was able to answer it with greater eloquence. When asked its complement “What are your weaknesses?” my StrengthsFinder findings prepared me well for that one too.

2. Get out there

It was tempting to stay home in my pajamas all day, depending solely on the Internet for leads. This approach got me nowhere in finding work and feeling any sense of accomplishment.

Instead, I started each week with a defined schedule of places to be, people to see and projects to complete. Forbes reports that about 40% of people land jobs through networking, other sources say up to 80%. Less than 10 percent of job seekers experience success by responding to Web advertisements.

Does the thought of networking send images of superficial small talk and crowded name-tag wearing events? It doesn’t have to be like that! Networking can come in many different forms. In fact, some of the best networking happens within your current circles–like at the playground or while watching your child’s extracurricular events.

3. Invest in your product…

…and that product is you! The best resumes and cover letters aren’t written overnight or even over a couple days. I sought feedback on mine from trusted friends and family, as well as the free resume review services available in my community; check with your local library as a starting point.

It may also be a good time to go back to school or, at the very least, to brush up on some skills or topics relevant to the jobs you’re pursuing. Once again, many libraries host free computer software classes, among others. Coursera.org boasts hundreds of free courses from the world’s top universities!

4. Take time to play

If you allow it, job searching can become an all-consuming, life-sucking, joy-depleting process. Instead, pledge to limit your hunt to no more than 40 hours a week–the equivalent of a full-time job.

The flexibility of not having a job may also open up a few fun opportunities to volunteer with your kids’ schools or a favorite nonprofit. Craftsy.com can help you tap your creative side with online classes in cooking, sewing, art and more.

The trick to staying upbeat during a job hunt is to seek fulfillment on a variety of fronts. Who knows, maybe your hobby can turn into a job opportunity!

5. Trust God’s timing

Looking back, I see how my time of unemployment was actually a blessing. It allowed me to be more available to a dear friend who became gravely ill. It set me up well for the job I have today, which works perfectly with my new role as a mother.

In other words, God showed up in the details–it was just a matter of taking notice. Job hunting can certainly be a huge test in patience and morale, but God promises “to prosper you and not to harm you… to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Take care of yourself by taking Him at His word as you discern your next steps in employment!

Written by Barbara Farland

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