Being between jobs is often an incredibly stressful time of life. How can you do more than just cope during this uncertain period, but actually stay positive and thrive?
Here are some steps you can take to improve resilience while you’re job hunting, based a general framework on building resilience from the Mayo Clinic.
Stay in touch: Humans need social interaction and those who are between jobs miss out on water cooler talk, brainstorming, and other interactions with colleagues (even complaining about the boss). In fact, when you’re out of work you may spend large portions of the day alone with your own thoughts, which may not always be as kind as your words to a friend would be. Reach out to old colleagues, meet friends for dinner and talk to your family as much as you need during this unusual time. You can even volunteer somewhere, which not only helps others and makes you feel good but also looks good on your resume.
Give every day purpose: Start off each day with a goal in mind—preferably one that's small and attainable so you have a better chance of under-promising and over-delivering for yourself. For example, plan to send out three networking emails by lunchtime or signup for an online course.
Learn from past experience: Think of how you managed last time you were out of work or received a rejection letter from a job you really wanted. What was the situation then and how did you deal with it? Draw on skills that worked for you in the past. Remembering how you managed previously can empower you to manage this time around as well. While losing a job or being rejected as a job applicant can feel pretty miserable, you'll get through this setback, too - you know you will.
Be hopeful: Focusing on what has gone wrong (e.g., a lost job, a bad interview, a rejection from a potential job) is looking at the past, and you can’t change that. By thinking about the future, you can adapt to the changes that are taking place in your life now and be better prepared to see an opportunity when it arises for you. Look after yourself: Someone out of work may not take great care of themselves, but this is one of those times when we deserve the most love and kindness. At any time, but especially during times of stress, we’re more likely to be resilient and bounce back when we’re getting plenty of sleep, exercise and good food, plus practicing yoga, meditation or a favourite hobby. Taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it will improve your ability to bounce back.
Take action: While you may need to take some time to recover from a professional setback, notice when you’re feeling ready to be proactive again. Taking initiative will make you feel more in control of your situation and should reduce the time it takes to find a job – very few people are lucky enough to have a job drop just in their lap.
Finding a new job typically involves a lot of rejection along the way. By following some of these tips on building resilience, you can hopefully deal with the challenges of job hunting with less anxiety. Finally, always think of the advice you’d give a friend, family member or colleague in a similar situation. You know they’d eventually find a job again, and so will you!