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Tips for coping with a long-term job search

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 16 Jan 2023

Long path to engineering job search

Job seeking can be unpredictable, you never know the outcome when you start but there should be a clear goal that you are working towards. It can feel worrying when you don’t know what’s going to happen throughout this time, but your goal is what should be driving you to carry on and reach your targets. 

Choose something specific to work towards, whether that be a job title or a job at a specific company and use this goal to drive you. When a job search takes a while, it can feel exhausting. Especially if you are working a full-time job as well. But there are some things you can be doing throughout to not only help you reach your goal, but keep you motivated. 

What counts as long-term?

The average job search may be five to six months, but it could be a longer or shorter period of time, depending on your goals and amount of time you have available. Everyone works at a different pace, has different time goals, and has different responsibilities. There may be factors that mean your job search may be longer than someone else's and it’s important to try and not compare your own journey with others. 

Stay positive

It can seem cliché, but it is very important to keep a positive mindset as much as you can. A job search usually starts on a high. It’s likely that you are feeling determined to find something new – you have something inside of you, longing for change and opportunity. 

As time passes, this initial excitement can begin to fade. Especially if you feel you haven’t made progress. (Even though you probably have) It’s only natural to feel disappointed but, as important as it is to let yourself feel these emotions, it’s just as important to pick yourself back up again. Focus on what made you begin in the first place and keep going. 

Success doesn’t just happen overnight. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Stay positive, even if you don’t feel like it at times and you will reach your goals, when the time is right.

Don’t let procrastination win

Job searches can be very repetitive. It can be easy to procrastinate and find something ‘better’ to do. But, contrary to belief, there is always something you can be doing. Whether that be reading and editing your CV, finding jobs online, applying for those jobs and even networking, make sure you are keeping these tasks consistent. It’s consistency that makes success. 

Keep a routine

One thing you can do to help with boredom is create a routine for yourself. Find a way of working that suits you and try to stick to it over time. 

Pick working hours – It can be easy to let a job search take over your life completely. Especially when you spend time at work as well. So have a number of hours set aside each week and work within those. You need personal time too, so don’t forget about the importance of this. If you are unemployed, maybe try working a typical 9-5 (or hours that suit you) and if you work full-time, maybe set aside 1–2 hours a day. Sometimes having designated times can really help you focus. 

Assign tasks to days – Much like a working environment, there are certain tasks you do on set days. The start of the week could be used as time to work on your CV, the middle of the week can be used to scout roles and the end of the week could be spent applying for those jobs. Tailor it to you, but sometimes structure works. 

Talk to others – When we are cooped up inside all day, away from others, it can lead us to feel lonely and a bit bored. Most people need some kind of social interaction and networking with other professionals can help you feel motivated. It can be really good to be involved in creative conversation, so give it a go. 

Maintain momentum

If you’re not seeing instant success, it can feel easier to slow it down or give up for a period of time. Will this help you reach your goals? Everyone is entitled to and should take breaks, but much like annual leave in the workplace, it’s important to come back. Work at a pace that suits you but try to set time goals and stick to them. Slowing down can do more harm than good in the long run. 

Take breaks

Stick to the hours you give yourself to work. This means taking your time off and time for breaks when you should. It can feel easier to keep going, work late evenings or consistently put in an extra few hours here and there. But not giving yourself time to rest, think or enjoy anything other than work and job seeking can lead to resentment. You started your job search for a reason, don’t let anger take that away. Give yourself weekends, take holidays and go out for dinner. You should be enjoying time. 

Focus on the wins

There are more successes than you think in a job search. Yes, your end goal is a job offer, but there is much more to celebrate. It’s important to celebrate the little things and give yourself the acknowledgement you deserve. Recognise yourself for the interview invitations, the preparation you do and the interviews that you didn’t succeed in. A lot of work goes into a job search, and you deserve to celebrate. The failures you have, will only add to the level of success you achieve in the end. 

No one plans to have a long job search, but it can happen. The key takeaway is to make sure it doesn’t get you down. There will be difficult periods of time, extra hours, and failures, but they will make up the success you achieve in the end. No one copes with a long job search in the same way, but make sure you are allowing yourself to celebrate yourself, enjoy the highs, feel bad about the lows, and find the strength to carry on. It can feel impossible sometimes, but if you remember why you started, it will always be worth it.