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Help–I Can’t Find a Job! (10 Tips to Help You Stay Motivated)

By Dr. Geri Markel On 

Whether you’re looking for your first job or your fifth, job hunting is arduous these days.

Applying online can be depressing and unsuccessful. The process is very anonymous: companies frequently don’t acknowledge applications, you are required to complete endless forms, and you rarely talk to anyone.

Studies show that while the average job posting attracts over 200 applications, a mere two to four applicants get selected for an in-person interview. That means you have a 3 percent chance of being picked.

Given such discouraging statistics and experiences, it’s common for job hunters to have thoughts like these:

“I’m feeling down. I keep thinking of the things I should have done (or not done).”

“It’s exhausting to write the same information on application forms again and again but never hear back.”

“Everyone seems to be getting jobs but me.”

Negative thoughts can lead to inertia, making it difficult to keep your spirits high and your job hunt on track.

For example, you may start to neglect networking, following up on leads, or rewriting cover letters.

If you’re having trouble, it’s important to look at your expectations. Realistically, how long might it take to find any job, let alone the job of your dreams?

If you’ve graduated recently, it’s important to realize that over 1 million people graduate from college each year, and it takes three to nine months for 50 percent of them to find a job. More 18- to 34-year-olds are living at home with a parent than at any time in the past 130 years.

If you have already been in the workforce, it may take six months to a year to find another position. During your career, you may need to repeat the job search more often than you’d like. According to one report, “Today, the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times (with an average of 12 job changes) during his or her career. Many workers spend five years or less in every job, so they devote more time and energy transitioning from one job to another”.

So, if you’re going to spend a significant part of your career looking for work, you need to use that time wisely and productively.

First, devote a certain number of hours each day to your job search, just as you would if employed or going to school. Create a spreadsheet of your search activities. List and monitor your leads, applications and new ideas. Review it once a week, and adjust your activities when necessary.

But a successful job search involves more than just looking for work. Doing things to keep your spirits and motivation high is vital.

Here are 10 tips to help you stay upbeat and on track—and even make unemployment a time of growth.

  1. Volunteer. Take the focus off your situation and help someone else. When you give of yourself, you feel energized and appreciated. Your natural strengths are visible to others, and you may even get job leads from your contributions.
  2. Get in shape. Exercise naturally energizes your mind and it’s an antidote to stress. The more you feel in control of your body, the more you’ll feel that you can manage and contribute in other areas of your life. Enjoy nature. Even a brief walk in the fresh air can clear your head and boost your energy. Find a friend to walk with. Other options: join a gym or try some video or online exercise programs.
  3. Consider trying a new method of physical and mental enhancement. There are numerous benefits to taking martial arts courses, including increased health, mood and social support.
  4. Start or expand a hobby or other creative endeavor. Listen to music or play an instrument. You don’t have to sound great, just engage in the activity. Go wild—join a community-based dance club or theater group .
  5. Start a video or print journal. Spend 10 to 15 minutes a day listing your feelings of gratitude or angst or just musing. Get the racing thoughts out of your mind and on to paper.
  6. Reach out to your support network. Contact trusted friends and family or join community or religious groups to enjoy social activities. Ask for suggestions and ideas. You need only listen to what people have to say, not necessarily follow it. As the saying goes, take what you like and leave the rest.
  7. Take a course to further develop your communication and leadership abilities. For example, enhance your presentation skills by joining a local chapter of Toastmasters International. This non-profit educational organization teaches public speaking and leadership skills. Another option is Dale Carnegie courses, which offer training in such areas as performance enhancement, change management, conflict resolution and time management.
  8. Take an online or community college course. Enhance your skills in writing, math and technology. When you engage in continuous learning, you expand your capabilities and your horizons.
  9. Continue to touch base with community leaders and groups. No one sees you when you are in your house, sitting by the computer. Go to at least one meeting a week.
  10. Be your own cheerleader and coach. Use your spreadsheet as a reminder that you are working hard to find work—and give yourself kudos or a small reward. Think about how you’ve succeeded in the past. Who have you seen move through career “tough patches,” and how did they do it? Make a list of attitudes and activities that lead to successful job hunting in your field. Keep a positive attitude, and see the job search as a way to exercise your perseverance and productivity.

By using these tips, you can stay on track and keep your life in balance as you devote yourself to finding the next step on your career path. Happy hunting!


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