Job hunting is not easy at any age; it can be a challenging lurch between hope and despair. But there’s no reason that you have to do it alone.
Why not find a buddy, someone who is also on the lookout for a job? You can share good and bad experiences, pass on tips and generally keep each other motivated and generally positive.
You might also consider joining a job search support group. I just did a quick Google search and found several Meetup groups in Sydney and there are sure to be other avenues in your local area. And if there aren’t, why not start one? Local councils, libraries and community centres may be willing to help with a room, a mention in their newsletter and more. You can also use social media to get the message out – or even to host a group online if the face-to-face option is too difficult.
A group can offer different ways to look at a situation, new ideas, feedback on your CV or interview techniques and just a place to share the ups and downs with people who will certainly understand.
I came across some research on older long-term jobseekers a few years ago that found that having a support group (or job buddies or whatever you call it) helped people keep their spirits high, but also had deeper psychological benefits. The MIT Sloan School of Management 2014 study on older long-term unemployed workers found that those who had support from a buddy or a group were significantly more likely to have found work during the study period, and also found the unemployment experience less damaging to their sense of self.
If joining groups is not for you (and even if it is) here are some tips for keeping your spirits up and staying positive as you apply for jobs:
- Don’t hang around in your jarmies all day. Get up, dress in something that makes you feel good and get out – go to the library to work online, go for a walk, set up some coffee meetings.
- Be kind to yourself. Take good care of yourself, whether that means exercise, long baths, reading books or listening to music you love.
- Turn your job hunt into a proper project. Polish that CV, take care with cover letters, make sure you have appropriate interview clothes ready to go, have a daily routine of search activities.
- Don’t shut yourself away from people. Friends are vital at times like this and you don’t have to talk about your job search endlessly; you can seek our friends who understand and are happy to focus on other conversation or activities.
- Manage your feelings. It is fine to feel angry or sad when you don’t get a job you pinned your hopes on, or there are no jobs around that you feel you can apply for. But it is vital that you deal with those feelings when they arise, so you can find a way to get back into the search and be genuinely motivated and enthusiastic. This may seem impossible, and if so, you might find a trained counsellor very helpful.
- If you have an interview coming up, don’t stop your search – I used to say to my freelance journalism students that it was much easier to handle rejection if you had a few articles in the pipeline, rather having all your eggs in one basket. It’s just as true for job hunting.
- Consider doing some volunteering to keep up some work-type activities and feel useful. You may even learn new skills this way that will help you find paid work – and I have had more than one client who has been offered a paid job though their volunteering experience.