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Manage your well-being during a job search

Staying healthy, organized, and connected will boost your prospects for success.

There are many aspects of a job search to manage, from updating resumes to sending follow-up emails to reconnecting with people in our network. But there’s also another key success factor, and it’s one that often gets overlooked: how we take care of ourselves along the way. Submitting job applications, interviewing, and networking means repeatedly putting ourselves out there. Hearing no—or, worse yet, not hearing back at all—can be hard, especially if it takes a while to find the perfect fit.

Prioritizing your well-being and working to reduce stress while on your job hunt can help improve your prospects for success.

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Amanda Augustine, a career expert for TopResume, says the “finding a job is a full-time job” conventional wisdom can backfire.

“This is a phrase career coaches tell job seekers all the time,” she says. “But some people take this piece of advice to an extreme—and to the detriment of their health and well-being.”

The first step to managing well-being is adopting the mindset that taking care of ourselves will actually help—not hurt—our ability to conduct a successful job search.

“While some may consider self-care to be a frivolous expense when they’re short on funds, neglecting one’s well-being in the short term will ultimately cost more,” Augustine says. “There are many ways to reduce your stress and take care of yourself without spending loads of money.”

Take Microsteps to greater well-being

Start small with Microsteps—science-backed, too-small-to-fail actions that can ladder up big changes in your well-being. You can start taking Microsteps right away to build habits that will help you prioritize your well-being during your search.

Here are a few Microsteps to consider:

  • Drink a glass of water when you wake up in the morning. Before checking your phone, before making coffee, make a point to hydrate and replenish what was lost while sleeping.
  • At least once an hour, take a stretch break. Frequent movement fuels your body and mind. Stand up, change positions, stretch—anything to get your blood flowing.
  • Set aside five minutes to meditate. When you calm your mind and block outside noises and distractions, you’ll return to your work ready to focus on the task at hand.
  • Swap a healthy treat for your go-to sugary comfort food. If you find yourself reaching for unhealthy comfort foods, find a delicious snack that still feels like an indulgence without added sugar. Try a bowl of berries instead of a cinnamon bun, or a fruit smoothie instead of ice cream.
  • Before you go to sleep, take 60 seconds to write down a list of three things you need to do tomorrow. Research shows that writing down your key priorities can help you fall asleep faster. Refer back to your list in the morning and dive in!
A woman sitting in front of her Windows 10 PC with her mindfulness journal on screen.

Track your Microsteps in a mindfulness journal

Managing your well-being can mean different things for different people. For some, it's about meditation. For others, it's about eating healthy, being active, or reading a book. Create a journal to collect your thoughts and reflect on your Microsteps with this free Microsoft Word template for a win-win-win.

Find a job-hunting partner

Searching for work can be isolating. But it isn’t something you have to do alone.

Augustine recommends partnering up with another person in your industry or with similar job goals. “The chances of you and this other individual having the exact same qualifications and wanting the exact same job is highly unusual,” she says. “By working together, you can double your job-search efforts and find some much-needed solace knowing that someone else is going through the same thing as you.”

You can bounce your résumés off each other, provide suggestions to improve their LinkedIn profile, practice for your interviews together, and more. Rather than emailing or texting back and forth, establish a digital workspace where you can share information.

A man and a woman working on their Windows 10 PCs in separate locations yet they are sharing the same idea, which is identified by a lightbulb illustration between them.

Create a shared space to collaborate

Share your daily schedules, Microsteps, to-do lists, and more to help keep each other on track. Keep a running list of interview questions to brush up on, or even share job listings that the other person might be interested in, all in a shared OneNote digital notebook.

Choose a positive mindset and stay motivated

“Negative thinking just comes with the territory of losing a job,” says Terrence Seamon, an Executive Career Transition Consultant at The Ayers Group who advises professionals and executives through job searches and career changes. And many people approach their search with the limiting mindset that networking is “begging for a job.”

But, as Seamon says, we have the power to choose our own thoughts and reactions. He advises clients to identify their negative thoughts first and then replace them by using a “positive thought exercise.”

Three positive thought exercises Seamon recommends are:

  1. Articulate your purpose in life.
    Ask yourself questions such as: What have people told me I am good at? What do I really enjoy doing? Who benefits from the work I do? When you have a clear sense of purpose, you can make choices, set priorities, and determine the path you want to take that will fulfill your sense of who you are.
  2. Write your mission statement.
    Companies have mission statements, and people can, too. Keep it simple. A mission states what you do and who you do it for.
  3. Practice telling stories of your accomplishments.
    Since interviewers are likely to ask, it pays to practice articulating your successes. Seamons recommends the P.A.R formula: Problem, Action, Results.

These exercises will not only help you shift your mindset in the moment, they’ll help you prepare for networking conversations and, eventually, job interviews. Instead of feeling like you’re begging for a job, these positive exercises shift attention away from what you’re trying to get to what you have to offer. When the time comes for those conversations and interviews with potential employers, the positive outlook will come across.

So, you’ve now prioritized your well-being, secured a job-search partner, and committed to keeping a positive outlook, but it’s still taking more time than you’d like to find that new job. Staying motivated can be tough—even for confident people, but this course can help.

Career expert Aimee Bateman in front of a lamp and a shelf containing plants and books

Keep yourself motivated while job hunting

In this course, career expert Aimee Bateman shares her top 10 ways to keep motivated while job hunting. Learn how to surround yourself with the right people, stay optimistic and confident, and create a winning job-search plan.

Finding a job can be stressful, but remember, you’re at the beginning of a new chapter—with new possibilities, connections, and successes ahead of you. Take care of yourself, stay positive, and remember that you’ve overcome challenges before.

The experts cited in this story were not paid for their participation, nor does their participation imply an endorsement of the products and/or services mentioned above.

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