by David Madison, SVP and Director, The Five O'Clock Club National Guild of Career Coaches

In the tough job market that exists today, it is not unlikely for people to search for jobs for months at a time. As job searches drag on, most people feel their morale and energies slip away. At The Five O’Clock Club, we know how important a positive attitude is to a successful campaign. Here are eleven tips to keep people motivated when things look bleak.

  1. Do something. Some people who have been unemployed for a year or more have done nothing but job search. But chances are, there are new “things to do.” For example, try professional level volunteer work, join associations, or earn money through alternative methods until you find something permanent. One individual relatively close to senior-level took a job at The Gap just to get out of the house. He was excited about the great sales he made, and it kept him pumped up and feeling like a winner while he continued his job search.
  2. Expand your targets! If you have been looking only in your major metropolitan area, trying looking in the suburbs. Most job growth is occurring in the suburbs. Don’t be afraid to explore different aspects of your trade. People who once worked for accounting firms can look to the other side: investigate accounting for not-for-profit organizations or small to mid-sized corporations.
  3. Use many techniques. Most job hunters rely on search firms and ads. Yet fewer than 6% of all jobs are filled through these venues. In fact, a commonly overlooked technique is direct contact. Job hunters at The Five O’Clock Club are granted 36% of their meetings by contacting companies directly. Learn the names of the department heads at the company and inquire about a meeting even if there are no openings.
  4. Be flexible with salary. Expect to be paid what is fair, based upon your trade and the job market for such a position at the time.
  5. Remember that this is temporary. It is very easy to lose motivation and confidence when a long-term job search is weighing heavily upon your shoulders. Try to remember that if you stay confident and use the right methods, things will eventually turn around. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
  6. Keep POSITIVE people in your life. Spending significant amounts of time with people who are depressed, unemployed, or who constantly complain about “how bad it is out there” can be detrimental when trying to stay positive about your own search. Five O’Clock Clubbers who are job hunting learn to keep a positive attitude, measure the effectiveness of their searches, and keep on plugging. Of course, they also have a career coach to guide them through the process.
  7. Continue to job-hunt even if your heart isn’t in it. Most people have days when they feel like they’re only hanging on to the work they do because it’s a responsibility. Don’t think of your current situation as unemployment; job hunting IS your job now. Some days you won’t feel like doing it, but you must. Make a phone call. Write a proposal. Research a company. Giving your best efforts to the search on a daily basis will help you land a job sooner.
  8. Get a job-search buddy. Getting moral support from someone in the same situation can be quite beneficial. Have your job-search buddies or small-group members talk to you about how their searches are going and what methods they’ve been using. Exchanging ideas and supporting one another’s efforts can help you through this period.
  9. Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Being unemployed is no excuse to let your health deteriorate. Remember to set aside time to relax and have fun. Embrace the fact that you now have the ability to do something you couldn’t do while working.
  10. Don’t get distracted. Job hunters tend to become easily distracted without the balance of a daily job. Keep your efforts organized well. If things are all over the place, it’s a lot harder to get anything done.
  11. Get a fresh start. If you have been with your present coach and small group for 6 months or more, maybe it’s time to get a fresh point-of-view. Even if you really like your present coach, maybe it’s time to move on and shake things up.

2 Responses to “Unemployed for a Long Period of Time? Realistic Solutions to a Frustrating Problem”

  1. LuAnn says:

    I have been unemployed for 2 years. Two job leads that I have been working on just fell through
    I was feeling down, this as you know, takes a toll on your confidence. Your tips came just in time,
    I have written them down and plan to start each new day reading them before I start my search
    for the day.

    Thanks,
    LuAnn

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ditto !!

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