It doesn’t take a research scientist to know that the longer it takes to find a job, the harder it is to stay enthusiastic and optimistic. Nothing erodes your confidence like perpetual rejection, no matter how qualified you are. Nor does it help your chances of finding work. After all, who wants to hire someone who’s stressed out, depressed or lacking in direction? While it’s important not to give up, sometimes the best plan is to step back and regroup. That amazing job candidate is still there, buried beneath layers of self-doubt and frustration. It just takes a little change of scenery to recover it.
Taking a break doesn’t mean chilling out on the couch and binge watching all four seasons of “Game of Thrones.” The point is to reconnect with your priorities and unique strengths. Some of the best ways to do this is to get outside, volunteer and stay socially connected. If you have the means, travel. And, if you want, you can even continue to check listings in case anything becomes available. Just remember to stay casual about it. Sometimes the best opportunities come to us when we stop trying so hard to find them. Here’s how stepping back and letting go can help you get back on track.
Regain Your Confidence
Long periods of diligently searching for a job can trap you in a weird dynamic in which the employer has all the power and you have little. It’s easy to forget that regardless of how much you need work, a job is a partnership, with each side fulfilling a need for the other. An employer is also in a vulnerable position. They need to find qualified employees in order for their company to function optimally. You are in the powerful position of offering skills that they need. It may be a good fit for both of you, or it might not. But it’s important to remember that whether you get the job or not, you’re still in charge of your future. Indulging in activities that reinforce your sense of self can help you remember this. If the only feedback you’re getting is negative, it’s easy to start believing it. Diversify the message by spending time with people you care about, who remind you of your special talents. Pursue activities that you excel at, whether they’re creative, athletic or social. Gain a confidence boost by making a difference in the lives of others through volunteering. Or get more experience in your field through internships.
Reconnect With Your Goals
Sometimes, we get so caught up in the process of finding a job, we forget to question whether or not our goals are still valid. Self-reflection is difficult to come by in the throes of a job search. Maybe you’re going about things the wrong way. Maybe you’ve failed to take all the necessary steps to achieve your goals. Or maybe you’re truly not interested anymore and ready to transition to a new goal. The point is, the answer is unlikely to come to you when you’re stuck in rush hour traffic, worrying about getting to your next interview. The best way to find things—whether it’s your confidence, your priorities or your goals—is to clear the clutter and quiet the mind. Which is to say, that a long trip, or even a bike ride or hike in the woods can be a better place for self-reflection than a busy interstate.
It’s hard to maintain perspective when you’re desperately looking for a job. We often let our jobs, or lack of them, define us. When, in reality, it’s the other way around. A job is just an empty shell that we shape with our unique attributes. For instance, it’s not the title that makes a great doctor; it’s her skills, bedside manner and intuitiveness that do. All of those things that make us who we are—our special interests, our memories and the people we love—combine to define us and influence the kind of person and employee we’ll be. Stepping away can help us remember this. And remembering the things that are most important to us can help fortify us during a tough job search.