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How to Get Your Job Search Unstuck

By Nan S. Russell

Almost everyone who works has experienced job loss. If job loss hasn't happened to you yet, count yourself lucky and expect that at some point in time you probably will experience a job loss, too.

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Stickiness may be coveted for website readers, but it can hijack job search efforts.

You may not recognize the familiar habits you’ve evolved since losing your job, but your routines may be keeping you stuck in job-loss purgatory. Add unresolved emotional baggage, and it’s 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, it’s likely you’re stuck in routines that won’t yield the results you seek, and/or you’re caught in an emotional do-loop blocking you from moving through job loss and letting go.

Getting Unstuck

If you are stuck, it’s time to focus on getting unstuck. Here are a few ways to start:

1. Track your time.

Habits are habit forming. How did you spend your time today? What did you do? For three days, log your activities and time. Now analyze where it went. What percentage of the day did you spend in productive work that could lead to future employment? You may be surprised to discover it’s not what you think.

2. Revise your output.

Now that you know how you’ve been spending your time and on what activities, 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 and tweak your time investment weekly.

3. Do it differently.

Whether it’s having your morning coffee on the back patio, visiting a standard set of websites daily to ferret out the new job postings, or walking your dog in the same park, do it differently. Break your patterns and routines. Drive new roads, read new websites, shop in new stores, discover new foods – it doesn’t matter what it is, it just matters that it is. 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’ve 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 didn’t know were there.

5. A daily vitamin of gratitude.

At the end of each day, add one item to your notepaper or online notepad that you were grateful for today. It doesn’t have to be anything big – the kiss from your two-year-old, the returned call from a recruiter, the sunshine on the clouds. No matter what it is, capture at least one gratitude vitamin a day. At the end of the week read the whole list; at the end of the month; the whole month. Keep the list going.

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."


About this author...

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 NanRussell.com; and her job loss seminar: Rebooting After Job Loss.