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When you first start a job hunt, it’s impossible to know how long it will last. And if rejections heap up while your budget gets tighter, it’s hard not to feel frustrated or even hopeless. But even if the job hunt is throwing unexpected twists your way, it’s crucial to keep up your job search motivation.

The right opportunity could be just around the corner as long as you stay persistent, reconnect with your goals, and follow these seven tips on how to stay positive during your job search.

1. Job search motivation tip #1: Get into a routine

Job hunting can become a 9-5 job in its own right (sadly, without a salary). As with any other job, lounging around in bed until noon isn’t going to help you succeed.

So wake up early, take a shower, get dressed, and pump yourself up for a day of job searching. Rather than spending the day in your slippers watching TV and scrolling through Instagram, you’ll feel more productive and inspired if you start your day in the same manner you would if you were going to work.

Set yourself a daily job search routine to add structure to your search. Set a goal for how many solid opportunities you’ll apply to each day and keep track of your progress. Just as you would at work, make sure to give yourself breaks every once in a while to relax and refresh.

You’ll also get into the right frame of mind by going to a designated workspace, whether it’s a coffee shop or a corner of your home where you’re free of distractions. If your budget allows, you could even join a coworking space for a change of scene.

2. Celebrate your small wins

Most of us are really good at beating ourselves up over our mistakes or perceived failures. But we’re not so good about celebrating all the hard work we do. Remembering to pat yourself on the back for your efforts is crucial to keeping your spirits up during a job search.

So make sure to celebrate even the smallest wins. Maybe you made it to the final round of a tough job interview process. That’s awesome — even if you ultimately didn’t land the job!

Or perhaps you’ve been sticking to your schedule of applying to four jobs per day or networking with people in the industry you want to break into. Make sure to acknowledge all the small steps you’ve been taking, even if you haven’t reached your final destination yet.

job search motivation

3. Give yourself a break

Maybe you’re feeling really low, and you have absolutely no motivation to apply for jobs. Sometimes, pushing through and forcing a situation only makes it seem more insurmountable.

So give yourself a break when you need it to clear your mind. Get some fresh air, spend time with friends and family, go for a walk, visit an art gallery, volunteer, go for a picnic, or do whatever else will take your mind off your job search.

Don’t think you can never enjoy yourself just because you’re job searching. In fact, some fun time off could be exactly what you need to rest your tired brain and rejuvenate yourself so you can return to the job hunt with a more positive outlook.

4. Get organized

Getting organized will also help you feel more in control, which will boost your job search motivation. Set aside time to update your resume and cover letter. Make your LinkedIn profile looks polished and professional. An optimized LinkedIn profile will help you connect with the right people and improve your credibility.

Maintain a list of recruiter contacts, job boards, live applications, and interview invitations. Prepare all the materials you’ll need, including references and even an outfit to wear to your next in-person or virtual interview. All these efforts will surely level up your job search motivation.

5. Get inspired by others

From Steve Jobs to JK Rowling, even the most successful people experienced failures along the way. Reading about people you look up to could make you feel a lot better about your current situation. After all, mindset is a huge part of achieving any goal, and it’s important to build up your resilience.

Aside from success stories you find inspiring, you might also reach out to your network, whether someone who works at your target company or a potential mentor. Invite them for a cup of coffee and ask them to share how got to where they are now. A simple piece of advice from someone you admire could teach you how to be confident in job searching.

6. Use your spare time to develop new skills

If rejections have led you to feeling no motivation to apply for jobs, it might be time to reassess some things. Maybe you lack certain experiences to get your dream job. Or perhaps you don’t have the robust portfolio hiring managers are looking for.

It could be time to learn a new, in-demand technical skill, such as coding, or to find freelance opportunities to build your portfolio. Even if you’ve never dipped your feet into the freelancing waters, it’s always a good idea to have a remote job (and a source of income) while you’re looking for a full-time role.

And once you get your dream job, you could treat your freelancing business as a side-hustle. Whatever you decide to do, these efforts will separate you from the crowd and make you a more attractive candidate to prospective employers.

how to stay positive during job search

7. Focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative

Finally, remember that a shift in perspective could mean a world of difference in your job search motivation. Let’s say you put your best foot forward and still got rejected. It’s easy to feel disheartened.

But why not look at it in another way? Maybe you’re meant for something even better.

By changing the way you make meaning of your experiences — and surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people — you could boost your motivation, as well as your mental health. Sometimes the best motivator is simply faith that there’s something amazing out there for you that will show up when the time is right.

Staying positive is of course easier said than done, but you can’t necessarily expect something so worthwhile to be easy. Plus, cultivating optimism and enthusiasm might just help you on the job hunt, as you might end up bringing the positive energy a hiring manager is looking for in their next employee.

Learn how to get motivated to look for a job, even when the road feels rocky

Job search motivation quickly wanes if you face rejections or feel like your search has turned into a tedious chore. The annoying little devil on your shoulder makes you question your own abilities.

But the best way to get over the sting of rejection is not to take it personally and instead to treat it as a learning experience. Ask for feedback from a recruiter as to why you weren’t the right person for the job, consider their points, and work to improve any gaps.

Ask an expert to look over your resume, send as many applications you can, use the right job boards, attend networking events, email and call contacts, chase leads — and don’t worry about things that aren’t in your control.

Remember, the stress and uncertainty will end when you get your dream job. So, keep on keeping on!