Have you ever tried to get in shape, learn a new language, or master a new skill? If you have, you’re familiar with the long slow progress and the inevitable frustration when the process takes longer than you hoped.

When you see some success—a faster run time or a great swing on the golf course—it keeps you motivated.

But when your efforts seem to be getting nowhere, it’s easy to wonder “why bother?” and give up.

A job search can be just as daunting, but it’s one activity you can’t just quit (not if you like eating). As with learning any new skill, slow and steady progress over time is the best strategy, but most important is having a positive attitude to help you through when you get frustrated.

Here are some tips to help you maintain the right attitude to achieve success in your search: 

  1. Track your efforts. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. Track your job search efforts in a spreadsheet or a notebook, including any contacts you’ve made, where/when you’ve applied, and the results. Over time you’ll be able to see what’s working, what isn’t, and adjust accordingly. Monitoring your progress provides a sense of control over the process.
  2. Switch up your activities. Have you been using the same strategies over and over? Are you sick of going to Craig’s List every day and finding nothing that seems appropriate? It’s time to try a different strategy for a while. Shift from online job searches to attending networking events, or seek out different avenues for job postings. Stretch outside your comfort zone and try a new activity you hadn’t considered before.
  3. Celebrate your small victories. Getting a phone interview, or making it to a second round, even if you don’t get the job, is worth celebrating. Your resume is communicating what it’s supposed to!
  4. Buddy up. Any difficult activity is easier when you have company, and it’s good to have someone else to be accountable to. Pick a friend who has a positive attitude and pump each other up to keep going. Share strategies and talk regularly.
  5. Read. Not just books and articles about job search, but also about your goal industry or field. Biographies, fiction, non-fiction, news articles, industry-related blog posts, professional journals–whatever. Use the time you’re putting in to the job search to become more knowledgeable about your interest areas. Not only will it keep you motivated, but it will be helpful when you interview!
  6. Rest. Even Olympic athletes take breaks from all their hard work, and so should you. Plan fun things around your job search that take your mind off it for a while and let you recharge your energy. 
  7. Seek out a personal trainer, mentor, coach, or advisor. When you’re not sure what to do or if you’re doing the right things, seek out advice from experts. They can analyze your efforts, provide feedback on your form and style, and help you see the big picture.

What strategies have you tried to keep you motivated? Leave us a comment!

© 2011 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound