As a recruiter, I see the emotional toll a job search can take on candidates — rookies and seasoned job seekers alike. Being out of work longer than anticipated, not being invited for interviews or not receiving offers can make it tough to keep your spirits up.
Worse: Fading confidence, a down mood or a crushed spirit can negatively affect how recruiters and potential employers perceive you.
(MORE: Mistakes Older Job Seekers Make)
Here are seven tips to help you stay strong and focused during a difficult job search:
1. Ask for feedback. If you've been on the hunt for a while without much progress, step back. Talk to professionals with whom you have a strong and trusting relationship, like a former boss or your recruiter. They get it, and they get you. Ask for, and be ready to hear, specific, constructive feedback and request a mock interview.
Are there things you could be doing differently? Questions you could be answering better? Follow-up that could be stronger?
Their feedback could mean all the difference, and the positive comments they’ll share will be a nice boost to your confidence.
2. Get the inside scoop. Talk with people in your network to learn more about the industry you're interested in and any changes or trends they’re seeing. What they’re hearing and experiencing on the front lines could be just the spark you need to shift your approach and pick up some momentum.
By the end of your conversation, there's a good chance you will feel more relaxed, have more confidence and be inspired to excel in your search.
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3. Change your approach. Have you been interviewing a lot without much progress? It might be time to change things up.
Are you coming across as bored with the process? Do your answers sound rote? Did you not notice your interview outfit is rumpled or stained? Prepare for your next interview with these potential pitfalls in mind.
Take out your iron and stain stick; come up with fresh, new answers; add energy and enthusiasm to your voice; use real-life examples anytime you can and be mindful of your body language. These small tweaks will help you come across as excited and engaged.
4. Fake it 'til you make it. If you're feeling downtrodden going into your next interview, fake it. Smile and be ready to greet the interviewer highlighting your best qualities. Make every interview an opportunity to not only get a job, but to polish your interview skills and build your confidence.
(MORE: What LinkedIn Won't Tell You)
5. Find commonalities. Search for your interviewer on LinkedIn and discover common ground. Maybe you’ll find that you both know some of the same people or enjoy volunteering. Whatever you share, remember that people want to work with people they like, and discussing commonalities with your interviewer is an effective and authentic way to start building the relationship.
6. Fit matters. While it's appropriate to strive for jobs that may be slightly out of your reach, doing that too often could lead to too much rejection. To keep your job search on track and your spirits high, go after positions that are an ideal fit for your background, experience and interests. Save the long-shot interviews for the one or two employers that really spark a fire in you.
7. Try some retail therapy. Sometimes, if you are feeling lackluster, a new pair of shoes, a fresh haircut, a fun accessory, a new tech gadget or an updated suit will give you the extra confidence and excitement to ace an interview. Walk in with some swagger, and let the interviewer know why you're the best person for this role. You might be convincing enough to get hired.
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