Originally published by Forbes.
The job search is a process. And like any other process, there are peaks and valleys—meaning, there will be days where you have good momentum, where people are responding to your emails, you have meetings set up, opportunities are emerging, and things are moving forward. There will also be days, and likely longer stretches of time, where things are at a standstill and there is little on the horizon, leaving you feeling stuck, unsure of what to do next.
Download an excerpt on strategies to get unstuck in your job search from the latest edition of The Career Handbook for Working Professionals.
When you find yourself in this place—and you will—use the following strategies to get unstuck in your job search and generate new momentum.
Take a break. There comes a point where you have done everything you can do for the time being, and it’s time allow yourself to take a break. I’ve had several clients for whom the thought of taking a break was incredibly anxiety producing. They would continue to spin their wheels to feel productive and ease the feelings of anxiety, but they’d go nowhere. Busy does not necessarily equal productive, even in a job search. Research shows that taking time off can not only help us perform better when it really matters but also creates the space for new ideas to emerge and can give you a chance to step back and get some helpful perspective on your transition process.
Ask for help. Two minds are better than one. So are three or four, or more. Reaching out to others, be they friends, family, or former colleagues, to get feedback, suggestions, new ideas, and introductions, can reinvigorate your search. Moreover, the job search process can be a lonely one. Having others to support you and brainstorm with you, can make it a lot less isolating. This is one of the main benefits of working with a coach. Asking others for help is not a sign of weakness— it’s a normal and inevitable part of a successful job search. You can’t do it alone. The new ideas that emerge from brainstorming with others can also be re-energizing, which can positively impact how you show up with others you meet during your search.
Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to stay in touch with your skillset, maintain your confidence, and connect with others who may be in a position to help you (e.g., other volunteers, Board members, etc.) by tapping into their networks, as well as potentially spark new ideas. In addition, helping others is yet another way to feel good about yourself and maintain your positive energy. Volunteering can also allow you to keep your problems in perspective and recognize that your temporary setback is likely minor in comparison to those you are helping through your volunteer activities. This kind of gratitude is shown to cultivate patience, happiness, and satisfaction.
Circle back with people. Reaching out to people you spoke to earlier in your search can also help create new momentum. Networking is not a one-time event. It is the start of building a longer-term relationship. You’ll want to stay in touch. Your situation or focus may have evolved since you last spoke to them, and they may have new information to share as well. Don’t assume that if nothing came from your first conversation that they can’t still be helpful. It’s also a good way to get back on their “radar screen” so they can continue to keep their ears open for new opportunities that might fit with your skillset.
Picture the marathon. A job search can take six months or more. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Yours might be taking longer than you had hoped or anticipated. Like a runner in the marathon, you may get tired or discouraged. That’s normal. It’s good to recognize these feelings when they arise, and also know that others are cheering you on to inspire you and help you catch your second wind. Picture where you are in the marathon and how good it will feel to cross the finish line. The important part is to know that, with time and effort, you will finish the race.
To be sure, the job search can be frustrating and there will be times when you feel stuck. Using the five strategies above can help you move forward more productively in your job search.