If you've been out of work for a while, it can begin to weigh on you. After a few months pounding the pavement with no offers to show for it, your confidence may begin to wane, you might have a hard time keeping yourself motivated, and you might be tempted to concede defeat.
It's easy to let anxiety about finances and uncertainty about the future send you into a downward spiral of discouragement.
That said, you've got to do whatever you can to remain upbeat. You've got to convey energy and enthusiasm when you're networking and when you're talking with potential employers. A tall order? Maybe. I'm not suggesting it's easy. It's critical to your search, though.
Job seekers who let pessimism get the better of them tend to do poorly when they do get an invitation to interview. Hiring managers can sense it - in your demeanor, in the way you answer certain questions - it may manifest itself differently from one person to the next, but it will be noticed. And it'll hurt your chances. The feeling that you are never going to succeed starts to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
No, you cannot control the economy or your age or any number of factors. But there are many things that you can influence. And that's where you need to focus your energy.
Step back and review your search pragmatically - and objectively.
First, analyze what the market may be trying to tell you.
Is it something about the product (you)?
Is it something about the market itself?
How about the way the product is connecting with the market?
For example, if you work in an industry that is contracting, then you know there are fewer opportunities now than there were in years past. If you haven't kept your proficiencies current, then you may not be able to "sell" your skill set. Or, if the economy is weak, you'll probably need to adjust your approach; it might mean considering relocation, or determining how to apply your experience to another industry, or adjusting your compensation requirements. (Don't forget; even during a downturn, companies hire. You have to figure out who they are.)
Likewise, you may also be able to learn from the search itself. Where in the process are you getting stalled? Is there a pattern? Say you've gotten a fair amount of activity when it comes to initial screens, but you're not making it past that round. Or you're consistently a finalist but never receiving an offer. Analyzing your results-to-date will help you to troubleshoot where you might be having problems - and what you can do to jump over the hurdle.
While you're developing your game plan, keep a few other things in mind:
• Be proactive. Most jobs aren't advertised; you've got to uncover them.
• Get creative about expanding your network - remember every contact with another person is a potential networking opportunity.
• Don't skip the gym; you'll feel better (and look better) if you maintain your exercise regimen. Besides - you may run into someone while you're there who can help you with your search.
Stop focusing on the factors you can't influence; instead, concentrate on the many things over which you do have control. It'll do wonders for your attitude.
Rebecca Metschke helps professionals seeking a competitive advantage in today's global economy. Her book The Interview Edge is available online in downloadable format. You can find free info on career strategies and other helpful tips and advice at The Interview Edge blog http://blog.theinterviewedge.com/.