Job Search is a Marathon, not a Sprint

Dear, Anita,

When I lost my job two months ago, I was all gung-ho, applying to everything and getting out there networking. Now, though, after so much rejection, I’m losing steam. How can I keep myself motivated?

Dear, Jockeying for Position,

Grief often follows losing a job. You’ve just experienced a major loss – certainly a loss of income, position, and security that may even lead to loss of self-esteem. While experts in the grieving process recommend not making major life changes during stressful times, you have to get yourself out there and find a new job! But it can be difficult for a person experiencing grief or stress (or both) to function at full capacity.

Call to mind the moral of “The Tortoise and The Hare” fable – slow and steady wins the race. While I certainly don’t advise that you lollygag in responding to job board postings and follow up with emails at a snail’s pace, I don’t want you to burn yourself out by sprinting. Fatigue is inevitable during high-intensity periods, but running a marathon requires the athlete to leave energy for the end of the race. As the entrants in the Select Staffing Veterans Day Marathon know, there are some tips for maintaining endurance that we can apply to your job search.

    • Diet: Stop eating ice cream straight out of the container and make healthy eating choices to maintain your vitality.
    • Protection: While wise marathon runners apply sunscreen, I hope that you have a safety net of a savings account in addition to unemployment benefits to guard against unexpected expenses that arise during the hopefully short period between jobs.
    • Breathe: Marathon runners have greater lung capacity than sprinters. When stressed, your body goes into fight or flight mode, and breathing becomes shallow. Take some deep breaths – here are a few exercises from integrative medicine physician Dr. Andrew Weil.
    • Join: Find the support group equivalent of a running club. There are online groups of similarly unemployed people, but a local face-to-face clique such as a Meetup Group may be more beneficial. Do a Google search with terms like “job,” “career,” “unemployed,” and “support.”
    • Plan: A physical training plan is crucial if you want to finish a marathon. Similarly, draft out your long-range job search efforts and calendar critical activities, and keep a log of your endeavors.
    • Rehearse: Nobody goes out to run 26.2 miles on their first run. Practice for your important competition with mock interviews. Watch for an upcoming blog about rehearsing for those tough job interview questions.
    • Visualize: Don’t underrate the power of mental preparation. Just as the runner envisions crossing the finish line, create a movie in your mind with you as the star, acing that grueling interview.
    • Fuel up: Long-distance runners take in fuel and hydrate during the race. Likewise, in your job search, refresh yourself. J.T. O’Donnell, CEO of CareerHMO, advises pleasant disruption techniques to change your brain pattern to get over your down days:

When you do land that post, celebrate making it over the finish line! It’s now time to start the real exercise of maintaining a long-running job.

Readers: How do you keep up the pace when you “hit the wall” in your job search?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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