Staying Motivated In a Long Job Hunt

January 05 2012

While unemployment numbers are going down, there are still a large number of individuals who are still looking for work, many of whom have expended their unemployment benefits already. When the job market is this tough, and the job hunt is this frustrating, it’s hard for potential employees to stay positive and motivated to keep on task.

As with any big task, finding a new job involves a balance of hard work and time to recharge.  Securing new employment should be your top priority, but sometimes that means knowing how and when to take care of your own needs.  Companies want to see the best you have to offer, and that’s hard to do if you aren’t eating right, getting enough sleep or managing your stress. 

The focus of this article will be finding small ways to stay on the top of your personal game so you can keep fighting for the chance to play in your professional game.  Most are free or involve spending little or no additional cash, so enjoy these moments guilt free.

  1. Move your body. ( Sometimes even the simplest stretches can help clear your head and release tension you may be unaware you’re carrying in your muscles.  Try this series of three basic stretches to release stress and regain your focus.
    • Look up
      While sitting in your computer chair, slowly stretch your neck back until you’re looking up at the ceiling.  Our bodies spend a lot of time looking down or straight ahead, it’s important to stretch and release the muscles that allow us to look up, as well.  Hold for a few seconds, then drop your chin to your chest.  Repeat 10 times.
    • Roll your shoulders
      Most people hold tension in their shoulder muscles, which can cause headaches, muscle pain and upper back problems.  Spend five minutes rolling your shoulders up to your ears and back down again in slow, deliberate movements.  You’ll feel the tightness melt away.
    • Flex your hands 
      Those of us that spend a lot of time in front of the computer often battle stiff, sore fingers and wrists, as well as more complicated injuries and illnesses, because we repeat the same motions over and over again.  It’s important to take a break from typing every half hour or so to keep the blood flowing into and the stiffness out of our hands.  Flex and constrict your hands and fingers, and rub each finger and joint individually to keep stiffness at bay.
  2. Use the right fuel (
    Quite simply, it’s harder to eat the right variety of food when budgets are tight.  In addition to the strain the economy has put on our wallets, the financial crisis has driven up the cost of many goods and services we need.  In spite of these worries, it’s important to eat well as you hunt for a job.  Your body will adapt better to the stress it’s under if you’re providing it with a steady diet of healthy fruits and vegetables, all the vitamins and minerals it needs and plenty of wholesome whole grains.  (
  3. Keep your perspective 
    When times are hard, it’s easy to forget that other people are suffering, too.  Sometimes, when we’re wrapped up in our own problems and issues, remembering the things we can and should be thankful for, especially the things others are not as fortunate to have.  Empathy and gratefulness can counterbalance the frustration and self-pity that can frequently accompany long periods of unemployment.
  4. Find the silver lining and the humor in your situation
    Smart people say laughter is the best medicine, and it applies to more than your physical health.  Keeping your sense of humor when times are tough can be your best defense against negative feelings.  (
  5. Recognize when you need some help
    There’s no shame in asking for help if the issues related to your unemployment feel like they’re too much for you to handle. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends and professionals if you need help.  There are many free resources available, no matter how minor or critical your situation is.  You’re not alone, and there are plenty of people who are available and want to help. (

Getting through a long period of unemployment is never going to be easy, but there are little things you can do to help support your emotional health while you’re on your way to your brand new dream job.

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