Career Development Center

5 Ways to Stay Motivated in Your Job Search

Tips to Help Job Seekers Stay on Track

By Jennifer Montez

Sit in front of laptop. Lie on couch. Eat pickles for lunch. Back to laptop. Feel sorry for self. Feel sick of self. Tear hair out in frustration. And … back to couch.

If this is your 9-to-5 routine, you’re probably like 14 million other Americans: unemployed. And in addition to the frustration of looking for work, you might find yourself feeling a little lonely.

Sure, you chat with friends online all day. And you may have a family or significant other who comes home in the evening. But good old fashioned, face-to-face contact with another human being before dinner? Kind of rare these days.

In running my unemployment blog, I’ve received plenty of emails from readers. And although many of them were lighthearted in nature, a number of them were quite the opposite. One of the saddest read: “You’re the first person I’ve spoken to in days.”

Unemployment can make a recluse out of even the most social of butterflies. After all, you want to spend as much time as possible looking for work. And where do you look for work? Online. And where do you go online? At home.

But spending too much time alone can be detrimental, not just to your emotional well-being, but to your job search too! Staying connected with the rest of the world is not a luxury. It’s a necessity! Here are five ways to help you stay motivated and keep you job search on track.

Work from a coffee shop.

Find a coffee shop with WiFi in your neighborhood (even better if it’s free WiFi!). Grab your laptop and go. You may not be striking up conversations with fellow coffee shop patrons, but it’s nice to be in the presence of other human beings. It’s also nice to have a change of scenery; one that doesn’t include Oprah on mute and swag from your previous employer.

Team up with other jobseekers.

Chances are, you know others who are unemployed. Instead of each working alone in your respective homes, why not team up? Agree to meet at someone’s house, and look for jobs together. After all, misery loves company. Not only will you have others to talk to who are in the same situation, you might just find that your jobless friends make good leads. You never know who might know of a job that isn’t quite right for them, but fits you perfectly.

Go to networking events.

Whatever your industry, there are probably relevant networking or trade association events taking place locally. Not only will you keep abreast of changes in your field, you’ll get to rub elbows with living, breathing, hiring members of the work force. We all know that spending hours and hours online every day is not the most efficient way to get hired. The majority of job seekers find work through a contact. You need to get out there and network!

Get a (night) life!

Spending eight dollars on an Apple Martini may be the furthest thing from your mind right now. And rightly so. But maintaining and growing your social network (and we don’t mean Facebook) can be a valuable part of your job search. And you don’t have to spend exorbitant amounts of money (or borrow cash from friends) to go out. Especially right now, there are plenty of extended happy hours and recession specials.

Volunteer

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: You can’t spend all day, every day, looking for work. Volunteering a couple of days a week will give you something else to do, a fresh perspective and a chance to spend time with others who share your passion for a cause. And depending on the type of volunteer work you choose, it may even help keep your career on track (and your resumé strong).

I know a laid-off writer who started volunteering in the communications department of a non-profit agency. She says it’s keeping her busy, helping her develop her writing skills, and preventing her from sticking her head in an oven. Not bad for a dozen or so hours a week, which would have otherwise been spent obsessively surfing the web.

(Pull quote) Spending too much time alone can be detrimental, not just to your emotional well-being, but to your job search too!