How to Get Your Job Search Unstuck

Almost everyone who works has experienced job loss.

If job loss has not happened to you yet, count yourself lucky.

Expect that — if you have not yet lost a job — you probably will experience a job loss at some point in the future.

While visitor “stickiness” may be coveted by website owners, spending hours on a job board can hijack your job search efforts.

And waste your time.

You may not recognize the habits you have developed since losing your job.

But, you likely have routines, and those routines may be keeping you stuck in job-loss purgatory.

Are You Stuck?

Add unresolved emotional baggage, and we have a recipe for being stuck in the status quo of joblessness.

Any of these sound familiar?

  • Are you visiting the same websites day after day hoping to discover new jobs?
  • Do you communicate with the same people? Attend the same groups?
  • Are you angry, frustrated, or worried more days than not?
  • Are you carrying a grudge that’s making it hard to move beyond the past?
  • Do you focus more on what’s wrong with your life, than what’s right with it?
  • Have you given up even looking for a job most days?
  • Does rejection push you deeper into a gloom-and-doom mindset?
  • Do you argue more frequently with your family or friends?
  • Have old work friends stopped calling?
  • Has your zest for life and future planning been put on hold?

If three or more of these ring true, you are very likely stuck in routines that will not yield the results you seek. Or you are caught in an emotional do-loop blocking you from moving through job loss and letting go.

Getting Unstuck

If you are stuck, like so many job seekers, now is the time to focus on getting unstuck. Here are a few ways to start:

  1. Track your time.  

Habits are habit forming, but not necessarily useful:

  • How did you spend your time today?
  • What did you do?
  • What were the results?

For three days, log your activities and time. Then, analyze where you spent your time.

What percentage of the day did you spend in productive work that could lead to future employment? You may be surprised to discover that it is not what you think.

  2. Revise your output.  

Now that you know how you have been spending your time and on what activities take the most time unproductively, revise your job-search strategy.

Challenge yourself for the next 10 days to develop new and more productive patterns and routines that will yield better results. Assess, re-assess, and tweak your time investment weekly.

  3. Change your routines.  

Maybe your routine is having your morning coffee while watching TV and then visiting a standard set of websites every day to ferret out the new job postings. Or, maybe you have coffee, take your kids to school, walk your dog, and then visit those websites.

Regardless of your routine, do it differently. Break your patterns and routines. [And, spending your time applying online for jobs is, mostly, a waste of time. Networking is more effective.]

Drive new roads, read new websites, shop in new stores, discover new foods – it does not matter what it is, it just matters that it is different.

Dislodging sticky sameness helps to increase energy, forge optimism, and rekindle a zest for life. Doing things differently helps you recognize and discover new possibilities.

  4. Write morning pages.  

I have used Julia Cameron’s morning pages tool for “creative recovery” many times, including after I was fired, as I lost my father to Alzheimer’s, and during personal and professional challenges or setbacks.

I can attest to its power. The process is simple: first thing in the morning write in longhand three pages that are stream of consciousness.

Don’t edit, don’t revise, and don’t worry about what you write or what you write about – just write three pages every day. I don’t even read what I write, I just write. It’s a highly worthwhile process to unearth thoughts and feelings you did not know were there.

  5. A daily “vitamin” of gratitude.  

At the end of each day, add one item to your notepaper or online note pad that you were grateful for today.

The item does not need to be anything big – the kiss from your two-year-old, the sunshine on the clouds, connecting with an college friend in LinkedIn, or the returned call from a recruiter.

No matter what it is, capture at least one gratitude vitamin a day. At the end of the week, read the list for the whole week; at the end of the month, read the whole month.

Keep the list going.

The Bottom Line

Reclaiming career prosperity involves more than finding a new job. It’s a package that includes emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual well-being. It starts as soon as you start to move away from that job loss stickiness. In the words of Conrad Hilton,

Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful men and women keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.

More About Recovering from Job Loss:

About this author…

Nan Russell

Job Loss Recovery Expert Nan S. Russell discovered a Stanford degree didn’t protect her from being fired from her first professional job. From minimum wage to Vice President of a multi-billion dollar company, she learned the hard way. Now she helps others with what does and doesn’t work at work. The author of three career books including, The Titleless Leader, Hitting Your Stride, and Nibble Your Way to Success, Nan is a national speaker and work issues consultant. More at; and her job loss seminar: Rebooting After Job Loss.

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