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If you have already lost your job, you are likely to be experiencing feelings of shock, disbelief, anger, anxiety, depression, self-doubt and fear. It is possible that you may experience different mixtures of these emotions at different times, and they may change or recur without any apparent reason. On the other hand, you may also feel a sense of relief if certain aspects of your job had not been to your liking, or if you had actually anticipated the loss of your job.

To have such feelings is understandable, and nearly everyone looking for a new position tends to have some portion of them. To be aware of these emotions is healthy. It is essential, however, that you take control of your situation and move forward. If you allow yourself to wallow in these negative emotions for an extended period of time, they will become counterproductive and can immobilize you. Even worse, some people attempt to medicate themselves with food, alcohol or drugs. In job hunting there can be a very fine line between success and despair.

Throughout your job search process, a positive, action-oriented frame of mind and a high degree of energy is essential. You must maintain a sense of purpose and continue to use your talents and abilities to the fullest in order to achieve your goal. Several suggestions that will prove useful include:

  • Commit yourself totally to your job search and use your time well
    If you are unemployed, you should expect to invest 50 to 60 hours a week, while 10 to 15 hours may be quite reasonable if you are still working. Equally important are your time management skills. For example, make sure you complete routine tasks such as library and Internet research in the evenings and on weekends, thereby freeing your precious hours during the work week for your job search. Business hours should be action hours, so make sure you also limit personal errands to non-business hours.
  • Set aside blocks of time for specific activities on a daily basis. For example, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. for preparing targeted mailings, 11:00 a.m. to noon on the telephone following up on leads, noon to 1:00 p.m. for lunch and a stress-relieving walk, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. for initiating and returning phone calls, 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for making cold telephone contacts, following up on leads, talking to recruiters, etc., and 4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. for planning. Obviously, networking meetings and job interviews will require you to alter your schedule. But, the more you follow an established schedule for your different tasks, the better you will stay focused and the faster you will progress.
  • Periodically evaluate yourself
    Monitoring your progress, or lack of it, will help you redirect your energy and sharpen your skills. Job hunting is an activity that must be learned through experience. By taking stock of your efforts, you will continually find ways to improve your techniques and make better use of your time. Failure to achieve success can lead to frustration and a steady decline in effort. Evaluate your successes and failures, and be ready to adjust and refocus as necessary.

  • Exercise regularly during your campaign
    An exercise program will help improve your energy and relieve stress. This may be as simple as taking a brisk walk each day or doing some form of calisthenics or aerobics. Choose a program that is appropriate to your overall health, and make sure you check with your family physician before you begin.

  • Undertake a personal or professional improvement project
    While time is going to be at a premium, invest a couple of hours a week and undertake some sort of project that will help divert your attention from your job search. This may include volunteering for a community program, registering for an evening course at a local college, or taking on a small consulting project. The key is to enjoy a little diversion without letting it interfere with your job search.

  • Seek the assistance of support groups or a career coach to help you through the process
    It is essential that you promote yourself in a positive and forward-moving manner, rather than making yourself appear like a victim. Organizations such as Forty Plus can offer substantial networking assistance as well as support during the period of time where your emotions are at their lowest point. If you require more intense and individualized assistance, consider a qualified job coach. Their focus is likely to be on developing a powerful, high-impact resume and other written materials, creating an individual marketing plan, job positioning and image development, and if necessary the management of your entire job hunting campaign.

To succeed you must be sufficiently motivated to make the first move and do it properly. If you spend little time or energy on your job search, or if you just want to "test the waters" to see what’s out there, don’t expect much success. You must be committed to achieving specific goals. Of course, planning and goal setting is almost always the easiest part of any task. It’s relatively easy to set goals and outline a course of action divorced from the reality of actually doing it. This means you must be prepared to put in the effort and take all the specific actions that are required in order to achieve your expected results.

The great majority of people seek new positions in a very haphazard manner. As a result, many fail because they end up wasting so much time that they lose interest or self-confidence. By taking care of details in the preliminary stage, and reevaluating your plans and strategies throughout your campaign, you will avoid many of the problems and frustrations which plague many job hunters. It will also help you land a position that you have targeted, rather than simply settling for the first opportunity that comes along. Understandably, the starting point in your job campaign involves your believing in yourself.

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