If you’re looking for a job and not feeling super motivated right now, trust me, you’re not alone. We’ve all been there: You’ve submitted dozens of applications, sent countless “connect” invites on LinkedIn, and gone to the umpteenth virtual networking event, and it feels like you’re getting absolutely nowhere. Whether you’re feeling underqualified for your dream opportunities or you’re getting ghosted by recruiters time and time again, the job or internship hunt can be wildly frustrating.
If you’re feeling drained about your job search, here are some ways to stay motivated and keep your confidence high.
1. get organized & create a system
First and foremost, if you’re on the hunt for a new job opportunity, it’s important to know what your exact goals are, and how you’re going to keep track of them. If you’re planning on applying to a bunch of new positions, ensure that you’re keeping track of what tasks you have and haven’t already taken care of, whether it’s preparing your resume or attaching your online portfolio to an upcoming application. I personally love writing down all my memos and to-do lists in my planner; it’s satisfying to be able to physically “scratch off” the things on your list as you complete them. Plus, it cuts down on those panicked, “Wait, what was that I needed to submit today?” thoughts you wake up to at 3 a.m. (cue immediate overwhelm).
If you have a hard time settling down to actually churn out work, you’re not alone — sometimes, a few productivity hacks and accountability can help. For example, Ellie Rifkin, a senior at Davidson College, says hosting virtual “application parties” are a great way to get some much-needed friend time in while still being productive. Try having your besties FaceTime you for hot chocolate and job hunting – you can even make it a friendly competition to see who sends in the most applications. Plus, your friends can even give helpful feedback or take a last-minute look over any materials you need help with.
2. Find a friend or mentor to help
It’s always harder to reach your goals alone, so try reaching out to friends and mentors who can offer fresh perspectives and advice. Chelsea Jackson, a graduate of Iowa State University, tells Her Campus, “One of my close friends and I usually get together when we need to apply for new jobs/internships to act each other’s ‘editor’ to make sure our resumes and cover letters are the best they can be. Working with a friend —or someone who’s familiar with your employment history — is a great way to keep you from submitting your application material prematurely.” Jackson adds that you’re more likely to be motivated when you know your friends are also applying to jobs!
Don’t forget to utilize your college or university’s career center, too. Jackson sums it up nicely: “Typically, everyone in your career services office knows how to cater your application material to your dream job (or internship). I feel like getting that kind of expert advice is bound to make even the least motivated student more motivated and confident when they’re searching.”
3. avoid the comparison trap
Kristen Perrone, a graduate of Siena College, says that the job market will vary depending on where you live, so it’s best not to compare yourself to someone you knew in college — especially if it seems like they easily lined up a job back in their hometown. “Chances are that a couple months out of college, not many people will have a full-time gig yet,” she says. “Additionally, talking with people who are facing the same amount of [job] competition as me is comforting, because I know it’s not just me struggling. Don’t get too affected by college friends or classmates who may be from a different area and are facing different work opportunities!”
Also, remember that no two job trajectories are the same and that includes industry; the S.T.E.M. job climate is going to look much different than the education market, for instance. Just because all of your biology major friends have already found jobs doesn’t mean you, as an English major, are doing something wrong. Focus on your own path, follow your interests and passions, and don’t let self-destructive thoughts discourage you.
4. find career inspiration
You know those Facebook videos telling the stories of how famous people like Oprah and J.K. Rowling went from rock bottom to major success, or didn’t find their career niche until later in life? It may sound cheesy, but reminding yourself that even the big names had rough patches to overcome can make you feel way better about your own situation. Seek inspiration for your career path, whether it’s researching job opportunities in a foreign country, practicing a new skill through a fun side hustle, or even making a vision board as a tangible reminder of your career goals and dreams. A little inspiration can go a long way!
5. Keep a positive attitude
When you’re super tired and just ready to throw in the towel, remember that all the hard work you’re putting in now will be worth it in the future. “There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Katie Gomulkiewicz, an alumna of Davidson College. It may not always seem like it, but you will find a job, and in a few months or years, chances are you’ll be in a totally different place than you are today.
Although the job search can be unpleasant, overwhelming, and intimidating, an optimistic perspective can go a long way in making the process more bearable. Remember that everyone has to start somewhere, and by taking small steps and staying focused on your end goal, you can absolutely get where you want to be. Keep at it, take breaks and seek support when you need, and before long your job search will be over! You got this.