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Coping with the Ups and Downs of the Job Search

Whether you have been struggling in your job search for a while or just beginning it, there are inevitable ups and downs. You can have hope and excitement one day, and then face a rejection the next. A successful job seeker needs emotional strategies and resilience just as much as resume help and job search advice.

As a Certified Career Counselor in Pittsburgh, I am a big fan of the Job and Career Education Center of the Carnegie Library in Oakland. You’ll find supportive staff and volunteers and hundreds (thousands?) of helpful books and resources. Yet you may need something more to keep you going through the anxiety, disappointments and loss of confidence.

Here are eight tips to help you cope with the ups and downs:

Take Care of Yourself – Looking for a job is a job, but you need to take time off for yourself. Set specific time aside for pure enjoyment rather than feeling the guilt of procrastination. Read a book, watch a funny movie, or play a game. Remember to eat healthily and exercise too.

Think Baby Steps – If you are feeling discouraged or overwhelmed and just want to stay in bed, think baby steps. Choose something easy to do, rather than tackling a big task. Often accomplishing something small can help you gain momentum as well as feel better about yourself.

Choose wisely what and with whom to share – Sometimes an idea or dream is shot down if shared with the wrong people. Sometimes job seekers share too much about their negative feelings with too many and it can impact their willingness to help or give a networking referral. Choose a trusted few to share deeply.

Tap Sources of Inspiration – Whether prayers, poems or philosophical readings, meaningful words or practices can help a person get through dark times. When others find jobs, look to that as a source of hope rather than think “why not me.”

Reframe Negative Thoughts – Negative self-talk can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. While it is normal, try to catch yourself and find something else more positive, though believable, to say to yourself. Instead of “I’ll never find a job that makes me happy” consider saying “I haven’t found the job I’m hoping for yet”, but I trust if I keep trying, I can get into a better situation.” Thoughts affect feelings which affect behaviors and naturally results. Make an effort to stay positive.

Keep a Gratitude Journal– One way to keep perspective through the ups and downs of the search is to write down five things you are grateful for each night before you go to bed. If you feel stuck, then consider writing that you have a bed, food, and a roof over your head. You will start to see the positive more which can affect your attitude and eventual job search success.

Seek Professional Help – If you are feeling frustrated with your search, consider meeting with a career counselor to help evaluate what you could do differently. If you feel emotionally low or could just use extra support, consider meeting with a personal counselor to help you through the trying times.

Attend Related March Library Programs – An additional resource is my newly released award-winning book, Help Wanted: An A to Z Guide to Cope with the Ups and Downs of the Job Search which is available through the Carnegie Library. Virtual and in-person programs related to the book and topic will be held through the library on March 5, 12, and 19 at 2:30 PM. Mark your calendar and check back for details.


This post was written by guest blogger Karen Litzinger.

Author Karen Litzinger. Professional woman with glasses and a red blazer.
Karen Litzinger, MA, LPC is a career counselor, professional speaker, and obsessive fan of daily inspiration books. She has coached thousands of clients, including twenty years in her own business, Litzinger Career Consulting. Karen is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Career Counselor. She helps individual clients from high school students through retirees clarify their goals – and reach them. For corporate clients, Karen provides personalized career transition services during downsizing. Karen’s wide-ranging career coaching experience includes serving as consultant for an international outplacement firm and director of a college career services center.

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