3 Tips to Keep Your Spirits Up During the Job Hunt

Job interview in a white office.

Job-hunt experts all have the same idea about staying positive during a job search. According to them, all you have to do is visualize what you want. You must be a Little Engine That Could and keep saying IthinkIcanIthinkIcanIthinkIcanIthinkIcan!

“That’s good for them,” says Marine Corps wife Christy. “They have a job. They can say whatever they want. When you’re two years into your search, visualizing doesn’t do it.”

Christy isn’t alone in her wait. Despite persistence, numerous applications, networking seminars, six resume drafts and 24 passing months, she’s still looking for work.

“The economy sucks, I know,” she says, shaking her head. “But that doesn’t make me feel any better.”

So what does? “Lose the visualization,” says Army wife Kandi. “Go for something that works.”

We know how hard job searches can be, so we have talked to real military wives about what got them through -- and why. With these three tips, you'll be able to keep your spirits up through even the longest job hunt.

1. Focus on the action.

Kelly, a navy wife in North Carolina, has been unemployed since her family PCSed two years ago.

"Jacksonville isn't Employment Central," she explains. Kelly worked in retail in high school and just finished her college degree, during which she babysat for other families on base to help bring in some cash.

She figured that once she was done with her degree -- in business -- she would be a sure-hire saleswoman for any company.

"I thought working toward my degree was enough," she says. "But now I'm finding out that won’t go get me hired. It's like I needed to work full time at the same time as college for anyone to hire me. Even for retail."

Kelly has sent out more than 20 job applications, and she has gone in for a few interviews. "They just keep telling me that I’m nice and great, but they are going to hire someone with more sales experience."

Instead of getting deflated, Kelly has stuck to her plan of action.

"I keep a daily diary of every job I have applied for and make sure I do one thing every day for my job search. I drop off resumes, introduce myself to store managers, that kind of thing."

By doing one thing a day to keep her job search afloat, she says she keeps her spirits afloat too. "It's better than just imagining myself in the job I want. I'm out there doing something. I'm always moving forward."

2. Kick up your confidence.

"The worst part in a long job search is you feel like no one wants you and you get down on yourself," Keisha says. "But once you get all Debbie Downer, no one is going to want to hire you. If you don't believe in yourself, they aren't going to either."

After an eight-month job search, Keisha is finally gainfully employed, much to the delight of her Marine. "With two kids and two cars, our budget was tight," she said. "Thank god for credit cards! But then there’s the debt."

Two months into her search and fearing the mounting credit card bills and rejection letters, Keisha decided she needed to take action.

"I was really depressed," she said. "No one wanted me. How are you supposed to feel good after months of that?" In an effort to raise her spirits, Keisha signed up for a kickboxing class on base. She had never done it before, so she was nervous, but the risk was worth the reward.

"I’ve wanted to try it for a long time," she said, "but I was nervous to do it around all these Marines! Turns out though, I'm pretty good."

Keisha said that one class a week was something she could look forward to in spite of all the professional mire. "It made me feel good about me, and that made all my applications better."

She wasn't hired for six more months, but she says the joy she felt every day was enough to get her through.

"You don't need to hear the economy is bad or job searching sucks from one more person," she says. "You need to hear that you're doing great. Find something that does that for you, and your whole life will be better."

3. Make your own luck.

"People kept telling me getting a job on base would be easy with spouse preference, but it was really hard," Kandi says. "It took forever."

Kandi is married to a soldier, and at their rural Georgia post, she knew working on base would be her best option.

"I thought I was doing everything right," she explains. "I was volunteering on the post to make sure people knew me. I went to my family readiness events. I kept meeting people who worked there, but nothing happened."

Kandi was about to give up altogether when her kids' soccer season began. "I signed my daughter up to play, and then I volunteered as a coach too. I just needed something to feel plugged in."

Kandi enjoyed coaching, and she quickly made friends with the other parent-volunteers. "I felt great. I had a community that had nothing to do with my job search or my husband’s job and I was meeting new people."

Socially, she was just making friends. But when it comes to your professional life, friends can easily turn into contacts and social life into networking.

For Kandi, that's just what happened. "One of the other coaches told me she knew someone who was looking for help in her office. It was luck," she said. "But it was also because I got involved in my community instead of just looking at job boards all day long."

Kandi knows that sometimes it can seem like you are doing everything right but get no results. "Don't give up,” she advises. “Keep showing your face. People don't remember you're looking for work unless you keep telling them and showing up.”

Job searches can take a while and can come with a bevy of personal hardships. But with a little focus, time for you and involvement in the community around you, they do not have to get you down.

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