How to be more confident in your job search
Making the decision to start searching for a new role is the first step in a rewarding and exciting journey. However, job hunting isn't without its ups and downs. Yes, you'll probably have a shaky interview or two, and maybe the odd dip in motivation, but trying to find a job you love is overwhelmingly worth it.
It's important to remember that rejections, radio silence after applications and long waits by the phone are part and parcel of the process, even if they don't feel great at the time. If you find yourself wondering "why is it so hard to get a job?", you're not alone – it's something everyone goes through on the path to greatness. Did you know Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected a whopping 30 times before being published? Even the Beatles were turned down initially, and everything worked out just fine for them.
Everybody – including your rival candidates – finds the job search tricky sometimes, and how you approach both the good and the bad can have an impact on the outcome. When it starts to feel a little tiresome, there are plenty of things you can do to stay confident and motivated. From adding a new skill to your CV to changing the way you approach your day, here are our tips on how to boost your confidence in your job search.
- Treat your search like a job
- Set goals
- Create a network (and use it!)
- Keep putting yourself out there
- Enjoy the process
How to build confidence
Dips in self-belief can happen at any time, whether you're writing your new CV, trying to decide which roles to go for or you're already a few interviews in. These techniques for building confidence will help you to stay on track and persevere through those tougher times.
Know what you want
This might seem obvious, but going into your search with a well-defined idea of what you're aiming for can help to keep you on the straight and narrow. Maybe you're changing career entirely, or looking for a step up in your current industry. Either way, knowing what you want (and what you don't) will help you maintain focus, reduce distractions and ultimately increase your chances of finding something you love.
If you know you won't be happy with a job that pays less than £35,000, don't apply for anything that doesn't meet this expectation. Similarly, if you're looking for full-time work, cut part-time jobs out of your search. It might seem like you're giving yourself more options, but they're not realistic. Instead, you're cluttering your search, adding to your workload and making the process harder than it needs to be. If you need some help figuring out what you're looking for, our find me a job page is a great place to start.
Learn from your journey
You can learn something from every interview – even the ones that don't go your way. Of course it's disappointing when it doesn't go well, but you can either carry that frustration with you or take the opportunity for a lesson instead. If you stumbled over a particularly tricky question, make sure you have an answer prepared for next time. When you nail it, the confidence boost will feel great!
You can learn something from rejections too. If you’re turned down for a job you wanted, make sure to reply with a request for interview feedback. Not all employers will get back to you, but if they do, they can provide valuable insight into your strengths and weaknesses, which you can work on ahead of your next opportunity. Taking criticism is never easy, so it’s important you’re prepared to view the comments constructively and find the lesson in them. If you can master that trick, you’ll know what to do differently next time.
Add something to your CV
It's easy to fall into the trap of feeling guilty for not throwing every spare second going through job listings and tweaking your CV. However, this is not a healthy mindset to find yourself in, and unless you start giving yourself a break, you could run an increased risk of becoming both unemployed and depressed. If you're stuck in a rut, picking up a new hobby is one of the best confidence-building activities around. It'll not only give you focus and a fresh perspective, it'll look great on your CV too. Learning a new skill shows employers that you’re proactive and ambitious, and that you can see a project through from start to finish.
You could also take this time to develop skills that are directly related to your line of work. For example, if you're looking for a job in social media, make sure you're familiar with the latest industry tech developments. If you work in catering, make sure you're up to date with your food safety certificates. Some skills, like being first aid trained or able to drive, can be valuable across lots of industries. Learning your new skill will give you a mini confidence boost while making you more attractive to potential employers at the same time.
Another approach for how to build self-confidence is volunteering. As well as strengthening your CV, studies have shown that doing something for others can benefit your mental health. It releases dopamine in your body, which is a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness, motivation and concentration. So, you can do good, feel good and increase your job prospects in one fell swoop. If you're tempted to try it, you can find voluntary job opportunities via our website.
How to find motivation
Maintaining a positive mindset is half the battle – the other half is being motivated enough to switch your computer on, assess your options and give each application the effort it's worth. In week one, you might find this comes naturally, but as the search stretches out over time, you could find yourself with little to no motivation to do anything. Remember, the greatest attribute a job seeker can have is persistence. It won’t always be easy, but it's worth it to find a job you love.
Treat your search like a job
When you're out of work, routine is often the first thing to go, but sticking to your daily habits is one way to reduce your risk of encountering unemployment depression. Think of your job search as your new 9-to-5, or 6-to-3, or whatever hours you're used to working. Create a routine and stick to it. The first 30 minutes of your day are crucial as they set the pattern for your performance. So, set an alarm, get up, shower and go.
Creating a dedicated work space can help you feel motivated too. If this is at home, make sure you’re away from distractions – when you're feeling unmotivated, it's easier than ever to talk yourself into a box-set binge. Create a clean, calm space without clutter, where you’ll feel relaxed and able to concentrate. Renting a desk in a co-working space is another option. Being surrounded by others who are focused will help you get your head down and get on – and at the end of the day, you’ll feel a sense of achievement as you leave the office.
You already have your main goal of finding a new job, and breaking this down into smaller goals will help if your daily mood is ‘I need motivation’. Each morning, decide what you want to have achieved by the end of the day, and make sure your goals are SMART (that's Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). Here are some examples of good goals:
- Making an appointment to talk to a recruiter
- Emailing five contacts
- Writing a new CV
- Building your online business profile
- Completing a job application
As with everything, job searching is all about taking small steps to build up to that final leap.
Create a network (and use it!)
When you're searching for a job, it can help to speak to others who are in (or have been in) the same boat. They'll have a good understanding of how you're feeling, and talking to job hunt 'colleagues' can give you a boost and keep you focused. They might also be able to help you out by utilising their network contacts if you're struggling to find a job in a sector they know something about. Don’t be afraid to let them know you’re looking for work and to ask them for guidance or if they know of an opening. If your contacts book is looking a little thin, keep an eye out for events where you can expand your professional network.
Keep putting yourself out there
It might sound cliched, but with job searching, you get out what you put in. The more calls you make, the more callbacks you’ll receive – it’s the law of averages. This doesn't mean you should start calling everyone and anyone, though. Keep your search focused on recruiters, companies and contacts in the right industry or sphere, and continue emailing, calling and applying. Each relevant person you reach out to is a potential door opening. Who knows – that long-shot application could be the one that lands your CV in the right person's hands.
Enjoy the process
As we said earlier, job hunting comes with its share of ups and downs, and it's just as important to acknowledge those peaks as it is to learn from those troughs. This is a great opportunity for you to reassess your goals. At this moment, you have the freedom to make a positive change in your life to achieve greater happiness later on. No matter where you are in the process, you should feel a sense of achievement because of that.
Key tips on staying confident during your job search
Getting through a lengthy job search can feel like a long-haul journey. Here’s how to gain confidence and find motivation in your job search:
- Be specific about what you're looking for and don’t waste time on applications that don’t fit your goals.
- Reflect on and learn from interviews or applications that don’t go your way.
- Add something to your CV, whether it’s a hobby, a voluntary position or a skill.
- Approach your search like it's a job and create a daily routine to keep you on the right track.
- Set yourself daily goals to make the overall target of finding a job feel more achievable.
- Reach out to your contacts and keep building your professional network.
- Keep calling, emailing and applying for roles – the more you reach out, the better your chances of hearing back.