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Shake the job search blues

Kaitlin Madden, CareerBuilder writer

In both his books and speeches, Donald Trump often mentions a story that his father told him when he was a child that goes something like this: There once was an entrepreneur who started a soda company called Three Up. Despite the man’s passion for his company, though, Three Up eventually went under. Undeterred, the entrepreneur started another cola company called Four Up, which also went bankrupt. He persisted on, but after Five Up and Six Up failed as well, the man was tired of struggling and gave up. A short time later another company came along and invented 7 Up, which was wildly successful. The point of the story, according to Trump, is that if the man hadn’t quit, he would have created 7 Up.


If you’re a job seeker, you can probably relate to the entrepreneur in the story. It may seem hard to stay motivated in the face of rejection and success can seem elusive — you might even feel like giving up on your job search or settling for a job you don’t really like. But, if you quit when the going gets tough, you may miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime — like the entrepreneur did.

The job search blues can certainly be tough to conquer — but it can be done. Here’s how to get through the tough times in a job search.

Pay attention to your thoughts

“Listen to the things you say to yourself about your job, your abilities and your chances of achieving your career goals,” says Colette Ellis, founder of leadership consulting firm InStep Consulting and author of the e-book “Focus on your vision.” 

If you realize that your “self-talk” is predominately negative, make an effort to change it any time a negative thought pops into your head. “When you hear your negative messages and begin to feel badly, say ‘stop!’ and replace the thought or message with a more positive statement,” Ellis says.

Dave Sanford, an executive vice president at recruiting firm Winter, Wyman, agrees: “You can’t force hiring decisions to go your way. But you can control your reaction to the circumstances. Allow yourself that healthy moment of disappointment and then pick yourself up and dust yourself off. This will help you move on a lot more quickly, which is imperative to your search,” he says.

Set goals

Let’s face it: The modern job search can be a long and tedious process — but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be rewarding.  Set smaller goals throughout your job search to keep you focused and give you a sense of achievement.

“As part of your job search, you will certainly have set goals for yourself, [like] the number of networking meetings you will have each week, how many résumés you will send out per day and the [number of] hours you will dedicate to researching opportunities,” Sanford says. “Feel good about completing your objectives and find ways to celebrate your accomplishments.”  

Be careful not to be too hard on yourself when setting goals, though.  When outlining your job search goals, don’t limit yourself to an overly-stringent time deadline for getting a job. “It may feel proactive to say ‘I will be working by June 30’ but you are really setting yourself up to be let down,” says Cheryl Heisler, president of Lawternatives, a career coaching firm for lawyers. “Concrete goals are good — as long as they are within your control. Do commit to goals that you can reach, like ‘I will make five new contacts each week.'”

Talk to people

Making an effort to talk to people in your industry can give your job search a much-needed boost for a number of reasons:  It’s great for networking, it can provide you with a renewed sense of motivation and energy, it’ll help you stay abreast on what’s new in your field, and it can present you with options and opportunities you may not have known you had.

Best of all — talking with your industry peers can help you get a job faster. “After speaking with someone once or twice and building a rapport, they are much more likely to bring up potential job leads or contacts for you, rather than you having to ask for them,” says Kathryn Minshew, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Pretty Young Professional, a blog and online resource for young professional women.

Is there someone in your field that you’d like to know, but don’t? Reach out and ask the person for an informational interview. “I firmly believe in informational interviews,” Minshew says. “Everyone loves being asked for advice, and sometimes the best thing you can do to get your foot in the door is to find people who work at the company or industry you’re targeting, and ask them if you can meet.”

Take a break

Although it’s important to maintain momentum and keep up a steady job search, it’s also important to take time out of your day to de-stress. “Stress can be palpable and you don’t want to present yourself to prospective employers or networking contacts as someone who will crack under pressure,” Sanford says. “Whether it’s a morning yoga class or walking around the block, find what works for you and incorporate it into your daily routine.”

Reducing stress also means fighting the e-leash during “you” time. While you may feel compelled to check your e-mail or voice mail every five minutes, fighting the urge will help you relax.  “Access your voice mail and e-mail a few times a day — and then let it go,” Sanford says.

Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow @Careerbuilder on Twitter.

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