How to Stay Motivated for an After-Hours Job Search

by Cathy Vandewater | June 26, 2012

It's not easy doing much of anything after work. Whether you're struggling to justify your gym membership, cook dinner that doesn't involve the microwave, or keep your bathroom reasonably clean, it can be hard to find the motivation after a long day at the office.

Unfortunately, the awfuler your day (re: you need a new job), the tougher it can be to find the will to look after your most important task: conducting a job hunt.

The trouble is, until you find a better job, it's not going to get any easier. Luckily, there are some tricks you can use to ease the process, and keep chugging towards your goal. No excuses!

1. Commit to a limited amount of time

Unfortunately, having an undefined amount of time dedicated to a task can mean the task expanding to fill all the time you have available.

Guard your recharging time carefully: set a (short!) period of time aside after work for job searching. If you feel like doing more, keep going. But knowing you'll only have to commit to 20 minutes of focused work can be a huge incentive to start. And 20 minutes of focused work is so, so much better than blowing off your search altogether.

2. Set the mood

If your work zone is also your eating-and-watching-netflix zone, it can be hard to fully get focused. Or even start your actual work.

Physically designate an area to conduct your search in, and develop a ritual to set the tone: make a cup of tea, or change your clothes. The more mood-cues you set for yourself, the easier it will be to transition into "job search" mode—and then back out again, to enjoy the rest of your evening.

3. Stay extremely organized

You'll be able to accomplish much more, and in a shorter period of time, if you're organized. "Job searching" can be a very ambiguous task, and ambiguity can lead to procrastination, or worse, misguided efforts or unnecessary stress.

Keep a spread sheet of leads to work from, folders in your inbox to track email responses, and set yourself reminders for follow ups, thank you note send-outs, and interviews. Knowing where you left off—and what's next on the pipeline—will speed things along, and save you lots of mental energy in the long run.

4. Give yourself homework

Once you've started organizing your search, it should be easier for you to delineate specific action items for yourself. Are you out of fresh leads? Your work next time should consist of finding them—and adding job postings to your spreadsheet for your next session. Done with leads? Note that you'll need to draft a cover letter for next time.

Again, by clearly outlining tasks for yourself, you'll make it easier to get started, and eliminate the fear factor that can come with too vague an idea of what your goals are. Job searching in general may be overwhelming—but trolling the boards for 5 positions you might be interested? That's totally doable. And it's great progress.

5. Play hooky

Made time for your search? Great! Reward yourself by equally prioritizing activities you enjoy. Make sure you're having fun, relaxing, and exercising as much as you're job hunting.

Keeping up with fun, healthy, and recharging life stuff is essential to maintaining your best self, which you'll need to maintain interviews, and eventually that dream job. Don’t neglect your personal life and sanity. You'll need them both to truly enjoy a new job.

--Cathy Vandewater, Vault.com

Read More:
4 Hiring Requirements You Have No Control Over
How to Change Careers and Get Hired in a New Industry
Why You Shouldn't Lie on Your Resume (and what happens to those who do)

Filed Under: Job Search


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