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Staying engaged during a long-haul job search

This week, I’ve seen plenty of discussion in my LinkedIn feed from frustrated job-seekers. It’s disheartening when you keep hearing that it’s a job seeker’s market, but you don’t feel that way yourself.  

If you’re getting interviews, your resume is doing its job. Perhaps it’s time to focus on your interview skills – a topic for a different post.

If you’re submitting your resume and not getting invited to interview, then either your resume isn’t targeted to the jobs you’re applying for, or you’re applying for the wrong kinds of jobs.

(I can help you with the targeting-your-resume part!)

I recommend using a spreadsheet to manage your job search. Log information about each company and job you apply for and what the results are. I’ve created a template – click here to download it. Feel free to edit it, or use the concept in whatever tracking device works best for you. Just be sure to keep it updated as you go.

Screen capture of job search tracking spreadsheet (download)

If you find that you’re submitting applications but just not getting invited to interviews, you can analyze your job search tracking data. Are you applying for the positions you’re best suited for? Or are you aiming too wide, high, or low? This can help you zero in on a more effective approach to your job search (and even drive needed resume updates).

While you’re working on that analysis, here are six ways to stay engaged and motivated during the long haul: 

Make a daily plan.

Use checklists to create several goals for the day, then check them off as you achieve them. Give yourself an incentive to help stay motivated and on task. Use your favorite task tracking app (Trello, maybe?), a dot journal, that little miracle of an iPhone, or a good old legal pad and your favorite pen.

black woman with pen taking notes in planner
Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

Change your venue.

Staying at home all day every day can be boring. Even for introverts. If you cringe at the thought of sitting at a café table, sipping a soy milk latte and staring at your laptop, there are other places you can go besides a coffee shop. Ask a friend if you can hang at their house to keep their pets (or houseplants) company while they’re at their office. Public libraries or university libraries can be a great place to grab free wifi and settle in for a few hours. Other ideas: Museums, book stores, public parks, even hotel lobbies. But surf safe on public wifi – use a VPN. We like Surfshark – click the link for a coupon. (This is not a sponsored post.)

Take little breaks.

A bit of physical activity can make all the difference. I’m not a gym girl (never have been), but I still try to move throughout the day. My Apple Watch reminds me to stand up every hour, and I use those reminders as prompts to walk downstairs for some water. Sometimes when I’m down there I see my 5 lb dumbbells, so I grab them and do a few reps. I always try to take a walk at lunchtime. 

woman walking through city holding cup of coffee
Photo by Маргарита Архангельская on Pexels.com

Take a bigger break.

Give yourself a day off! If it stands to reason that you need personal time when you’re fully employed, it also stands to reason that you need personal time if job searching is your full-time work. If you’re starting to really feel the stress, close your laptop and do something totally unrelated for a day or even two.

Break up long stretches of computer time.

Read a book or magazine. Knit. Watch something educational on TV. Make a networking call. Listen to music or a podcast. If you’re still at your computer but find yourself losing focus, maybe take an online course, or watch a tutorial on YouTube (finally learn how Excel pivot tables work, for example).

woman in yellow long sleeve shirt lying on couch
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Engage with an agency (or two).

Placement agencies often know about jobs that never get advertised. Recruiters there can shop your resume to their clients (employers). And you don’t have to work with just one exclusively. Perhaps there are agencies that specialize in your field of work – all the better to improve your odds. Let them do some of your legwork for you.


These six suggestions may prompt ideas of your own! No matter what you do, be sure to pace yourself, stay positive, hydrate – and keep working that network.

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