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Karen Dwyer: Staying Encouraged During the Job Hunt

With experts predicting a brighter outlook for 2011, try these tips to keep motivated

While recent unemployment rates have slowly declined, the average job hunt is still lasting six to eight months, discouraging many job seekers. Despite positive reports, such as CNN Money’s recent survey in which economists predict an average of 2.5 million jobs to be added in the United States in 2011, the growth is slow.

Christine Owens of the National Employment Law Project reported on the radio program Marketplace that while the rate decreases are encouraging, the number of discouraged job seekers is growing. Some people on the job hunt have given up altogether, which means they are no longer even being counted as “unemployed.”

As the search for a job drags on, it can be hard to remain upbeat and positive. But today’s job hunt is a marathon, not a sprint, so it’s imperative that job seekers not give up and stay motivated. Searching for a job is a job in and of itself, which means the same tips that apply to discouraged and unmotivated employees apply to today’s job seekers.

So, if you’re feeling the strain of searching for a job or know someone who is, take a look at these tips to stay motivated.

Get Organized

After a few months, or even just a few weeks, of calling employers, searching job boards and e-mailing résumés, all your efforts can run together. You are required to track at least some of your job search activities to receive unemployment, but if you’re doing anything additional you need your own tracking system.

Whether you prefer a notebook or a spreadsheet on your computer, keep a list of the companies you’ve contacted, who you talked to, when you talked with them, if you spoke over the phone, in person or through email, what they said and what the results were. Not only will this ensure you don’t contact the same employer too often, but it will give you a sense of accomplishment that you have been trying and doing everything in your power to find a job.

Change Your Surroundings

Sitting around your house at your dining room table or on your couch day after day sifting through the want ads or scanning for jobs online can get old fast. Try going to a local bookstore or coffee shop for a change of scenery. Your public library is also a good place to go, especially if you need a computer for searching job sites or emailing applications. Local meeting places such as these often have bulletin boards where employers post job openings, which are another great resource for your hunt.

Take a Break

Everyone needs a break from their day-to-day activities, and that includes job hunting. If you’ve been job searching for a while, take a day or two off. Work around the house. Go to the park with your family. Volunteer with a local nonprofit organization. See a dollar movie. You’ll come back to the job hunt feeling refreshed, less stressed and with a new outlook. You’ll be ready to start again with new energy, and you never know what networking opportunities you might find on your break.

Ask for Help

With the number of individuals searching for jobs, it never hurts to have as many people as possible helping you market your skills and experience. Make sure all your family members, friends and acquaintances know you’re looking for work. Contact your local staffing companies and give them your information. As a job seeker, you should not be charged, and you’ll gain access to companies and job openings that you didn’t have access to before.

Whether you’ve been searching for a few days or for six months, the job hunt can be discouraging. Experts are predicting good things in 2011. Make it your goal to get one of those 2.5 millions jobs in 2011, stay motivated and keep trying.

— Karen Dwyer is owner of Express Employment Professionals, 1025 Chapala St., Suite 206, in Santa Barbara. Click here to contact her or call 805.965.6900.

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