Job searching: it can be exciting when you get started, but quickly turn into a slog. Add to that the fact that you’re trying to build (or even just start!) a work-from-home career, and you may quickly find yourself floundering, feeling overwhelmed and disappointed by the daily realities of a long-term search.
I get it.
The good news is that you don’t have to feel that way—and I’m sharing eight strategies with you below to keep you moving forward and feeling optimistic. You might even find yourself falling in love with your job search again!
1. Set Goals
A long-term job search can feel crushing—it’s tempting to feel like you’re being rejected day after day. Don’t do that. Job searching is a complicated game, and there are many moving parts for you to juggle. Focus on controlling what you can and set goals for yourself in order to end each day feeling accomplished and knowing you did your best.
Tweak your resume for each job you’re applying for—you may even want to set yourself a goal to build out your basic resume for a variety of positions. (That way, you only have to update it slightly for each new application.) Decide how many positions you’re going to apply for each day. Challenge yourself to set up a certain number of cover letter templates. Make it a goal to search out three new job leads each day. Whatever your goals are, state them to yourself clearly and make them visible: post the goal on a colorful sticky note where you can see it.
And when you hit your goals? Reward yourself with something small, like a piece of chocolate or ten minutes of free social media time.
2. Stay Mindful
If you’re feeling frustrated or burnt out from the job searching process, it’s time to reframe your thoughts and clear your mind. Add mindfulness exercises to your day: not only can they lessen your feelings of stress, but they can also help you identify your blessings and recognize opportunities.
The first few minutes after waking are critical to setting the tone for the day. Instead of jumping right onto social media (which might keep you scrolling in bed longer than you intended)—or dwelling on your responsibilities or perceived failures—do a short meditation to center yourself and enter the day in a relaxed, focused frame of mind. You’ll feel more centered and productive. Don’t forget to take a few minutes here and there throughout the day to return yourself to that quiet, clear state before starting another activity.
3. Pace Yourself
While you can find a job very quickly, many job searches turn out to be marathons and not sprints. You can’t spend eight hours on the job search grind day after day and not expect to feel worn out and worn down. So pace yourself!
Don’t spend the entire day on your job search, and don’t spend your entire search doing just one thing. Mix it up. Looking for job leads and work on improving your resume one day, then drafting cover letters and researching potential employers the next. On a day you spend filling out several job applications, add more downtime to help you loosen up and blow off steam.
4. Structure Your Time
Organization is both important to a productive job search and to keeping your spirits up as you work at it. This strategy builds upon the basic concepts of setting goals and pacing yourself. You’ll be more productive and better balanced mentally if you create a schedule for yourself and follow it throughout the week.
This can be as simple as doing a two-hour block then taking a 10-minute break, then doing another two-hour block before breaking for lunch and running all your errands within a two-hour window in the afternoon. Or you can get more specific, building your agenda out for you to do job applications when you’re fresh from 9 am-11 am, then an hour of networking before lunch, followed by job lead digging from 12:45 pm-2:00 pm. Do what works best for your workflow.
5. Get Out of the House
Nothing makes you resent what you’re spending all your time doing than doing it in social isolation. Even when you’re an introvert, you still need to feel like you’re part of the world—even if you keep a healthy distance from other people while you’re doing it!
Make sure you get out of the house every day. This can be as quick as drinking your morning coffee in your backyard or going on a brief walk to check the mail in the afternoon. But do it. Get that fresh air and perhaps a little sun. Help boost your body’s vitamin D levels, and get a little exercise to make up for all the couch time. Most importantly, get out of your own head and into the world. It can be a natural mood booster and leave you returning to the search refreshed.
6. Improve Yourself
One way to boost your mood and your prospects is by learning new skills. While you’re doing all the necessary job search pieces, schedule some time to improve yourself as well. While you could pay to take a local class, you could also take a course online. It could even be free!
If you’re a visual artist, start learning a new medium. If you’re a programmer, start studying a new coding language. Are you a blogger? There’s always new stuff to learn about SEO. Whatever your interests, Udemy or Skillshare probably have a course to help you out. And if you’d prefer something free, try adding “free lessons” to your Google search.
Keep yourself motivated by reflecting on how the new skill will revitalize your job search by opening up new opportunities.
7. Take Breaks from Your Search
Sometimes, you need to just walk away from the search for a few days. I know this can feel counterintuitive when what you really need is a job, but it can actually make your search better focused and more productive. If you just keep slogging through, you leave yourself vulnerable to a depressed slump.
Don’t use this break just to binge Netflix and blow off all productivity. Instead, consider volunteering—it’ll get you out of the house, potentially teach you a new skill, and give you more material for your resume.
If volunteering isn’t an option—perhaps you need cashflow now—pick up some task-based work to bring in a small income. Do some transcription, microtasks, user testing, or even get out of the house and take some deliveries.
8. Build Your Network
Networking isn’t just a crucial job search tactic—it can also bring new relationships into your life that get you excited all over again about the industry that you work in and the people you might work with.
While you may not be up to networking every day, put aside some time to network several days each week. You should already have a LinkedIn profile—if not, put one together right now. Reach out to your friends, previous contacts in your industry, or other LinkedIn users and thought leaders who interest you. You never know who might have a helping hand to offer you.
I hope you’re already feeling excited about getting up tomorrow and starting your work-from-home job search fresh. You’ve got the strategies you need for a better search now. And here’s one more before you go: while you’re searching for a place to work, don’t forget to spend time dreaming. Go after the pie-in-the-sky jobs, even if you’re not sure you could ever land them. Taking risks is what keeps it lively, and you never know—your dream might just come true.