The Job Hunter’s Guide to Positivity

by Claire Schmieder, Volunteer Manager
Previously published 11/11/14

The Job Hunter’s Guide to Positivity

Claire.Schmieder.SeniorEditorJust about one year ago, I started working at my current job. Hooray! This upcoming anniversary has gotten me reflecting on the time BEFORE I started working, when I was a verging-on-desperate job hunter. After I earned my MLIS, I spent nearly a year applying for jobs. While that year was stressful, I worked hard to make the most of it and to stay positive. I was determined not to fall into a negativity spiral. Nearly two years ago, I came up with a handful of ways to use positivity to beat back any negativity in my life.

So here you have it, nine ways to keep shining, growing, and moving forward.

Celebrate Your Successes: Whether small or large, don’t wait a single second longer to celebrate the good things in your life. You got an interview for a job you’re really excited about? Celebrate! You managed to shave a minute or two off of your 5K personal best? Celebrate! You finally cleaned out your linen closet? Celebrate! (And then come to my house and give me a hand with mine.)

How to celebrate? Free stuff includes: giving yourself a high five and sharing your success on social media so other people can join in the celebration with you. If you’ve got some extra cash, treat yourself to something, like a trip to the bookstore, a concert ticket, or a visit to a museum.

Lastly, celebrating success does not equal bragging. You are your own best advocate and cheer section.

Celebrate the Successes of Others: It can be difficult to be happy with your own situation when it feels like everyone else around you is achieving their goals. However, it is crucial to remember that another person’s success doesn’t equate to a failure on your part.

In fact, the success of others is TOTALLY unrelated to you and you should avoid reframing someone else’s achievement in terms of your own perceived lack thereof. Instead, congratulate them on their accomplishment and then take them out for coffee to find out more about it. If they got a job, landed a coveted award, or were asked to speak at an event, ask them who, what, where, and how; their answers might provide you some insight into your own situation. At the very least, you’ll help another person celebrate their own success.

Stay Physically Active: It’s really easy to stay glued to the couch when you’re not feeling positive. However, one study (of many similar studies) shows that “greater amounts of occupational and leisure time physical activity were generally associated with reduced symptoms of depression.” You don’t have to be in fabulous shape or have an expensive gym membership to be physically active, either. Throw on some sneakers, grab your headphones, and take a long walk.

Stay Professionally Active: This one can be a little trickier because there is an absolute cost associated with being professionally active. Professional memberships will cost you money; travel, lodging, and registration for conferences will cost you even more money; volunteering will cost you time (which should be valued similarly to actual cash).

Despite these obviously pricey options, there are additional ways to stay professionally active without completely destroying your bank account. Blogging, being active in online communities (like the INALJ LinkedIn group), and using social media to be aware of current events in library land. If you’re a student, definitely check out the deeply discounted rates for membership in professional organizations. (Currently, student membership in ALA is $35/year.)

Smile: Guess what, even if you don’t feel like smiling, do it anyway. Research from the University of Kansas shows that “smiling can alter our stress response by slowing down the heart rate and decreasing perceived levels of stress regardless of whether the person actually feels happy or not.” The bottom line is that smiling is good for you, so just do it.

Spend Time with Others: Job hunting can be exhausting. And discouraging. Don’t isolate yourself with your tired, discouraged thoughts. Getting out of the house, even briefly, to spend some time with people you like will improve your mood.

Accept Help: Don’t go through your job hunt alone! You are a strong, capable person, but there will come a time when you will need advice about a job application, a letter of recommendation from a mentor, or a trusted ear to bend when you’re struggling. If a seasoned professional offers to critique your resume, say yes, please, and thank you. If a former professor offers to make a call on your behalf to help you get an interview, say yes, please, and thank you.

Practice Enthusiasm: Enthusiasm is contagious; it makes people smile; it makes everyone (including yourself) feel more motivated. Showing enthusiasm for your profession, your hobbies, your friends, your family, and yourself equals a more positive outlook overall.

What do you do to stay positive? Share in the comments!