Advice From A Career Coach On How To Stay Positive During A Difficult Job Search

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Author, speaker, coach and founder of Cheryl Czach Coaching, helping high-achieving professionals and organizations accomplish what’s next.

Admittedly, this is a difficult time to be unemployed. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, “Unemployment rose higher in three months of COVID-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession.” In numbers, that means 14 million additional unemployed Americans between February 2020 and May 2020. This is greater than the jump seen during the Great Recession, where only 8.8 million became unemployed between the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2010.

If you find yourself among the ranks of the unemployed, the situation can feel hopeless. However, as a career coach with over 20 years of experience in human resources and the last seven leading a staffing firm, I can assure you that there is light at the end of the tunnel and you will find your next role. Until then, here are four ways to remain positive (and take some action):

Know that you are not alone. Job loss is often followed by feelings of anger, resentment, frustration and worry. Sometimes there is also shame. According to CNBC, “Because of this connection between self-worth and work, it’s common for people who’ve lost their jobs to blame themselves and wonder what they personally did wrong to end up unemployed. They may also feel shame for not being able to provide financial stability and protection to the people they need to support, especially during a health crisis.” However, losing your job during an economic downturn is out of your control. In fact, because so many others are in the same situation, your news will most likely be greeted with compassion and understanding, which leads directly to the next point.

Find someone with whom you can vent. While it’s not healthy to ruminate on negative feelings, venting to someone who understands and is in the same situation can actually help to release stress and worry. Have a good rant session and get it all off your chest. Describe how unfair the situation is and how worried you are about the future. Put it all out there. Listen to one another and acknowledge each other’s feelings. But be careful, venting can have negative side effects. According to Entrepreneur magazine, “The more you vent, the more it becomes a habit. When it becomes a habit, you’re acutely attuned to the negative things in life. Since your brain is now more primed to register stressors, it is more challenging to appreciate the more calming or positive facets of work or life.” Allow yourself one healthy vent session and then move on.

Start taking action. Although it may seem like an impossible situation, there are companies that hire in a poor economy and it is possible to find a job. Make a list of everything you will need to do to begin your job search. Does your resume need revamping? Is your LinkedIn profile up to snuff? Perhaps you need to engage the help of a professional career coach to help you brush up on your interviewing techniques. Whatever it is, start taking action immediately. Doing something will help! Writer Dale Carnegie is often credited with saying, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Ease your worry with planning. The primary worry with job loss is financial security. In addition to beginning your job search, take the time to fully understand your financial situation and make a plan. Immediately apply for unemployment benefits, COBRA or any other financial options available to you. Investigate all possibilities and know at what point you will need to exercise them. Perhaps you have enough savings to live comfortably for several months but afterward may need to draw from an investment fund. Investigate opportunities for postponing debt payments or mortgage payments. You may not need to use any of these alternatives but knowing what they are and how to activate them will ease your worry and grief.

Finally, remember that your job is just one aspect of your life (albeit an important one). What other elements do you want to focus on right now? It’s a great time to pick up a hobby you’ve always wanted to try, spend more quality time with family or start a ritual of a morning walk. Whatever it is, do it. Commit to making the most of this time by choosing to embrace activities that lift your mood and give you joy.