It’s hard to ignore the social energy surrounding today’s ever-changing job market. According to a recent ResumeBuilder poll, approximately one-quarter of all workers expect to switch jobs this year. About half cite higher salaries and improved perks for joining the Great Resignation. But before you take the plunge and start submitting applications, you owe it to yourself to prepare mentally and physically.
Let’s face it: The excitement of switching positions, employers, or careers can wane rapidly. It takes its toll when the process goes from being a novelty to being a chore. Case in point: 49% of unemployed people who want to get back to work told Pew Research Center that they’re not optimistic about the road ahead.
Plodding through any major life experience with a pessimistic attitude puts you at a significant disadvantage. How can you take hold of opportunities and see possibilities if you’re not feeling emotionally centered, focused, and confident? One study suggested that job seekers who practiced self-compassion benefitted more than their counterparts, even when faced with everyday obstacles.
So how can you avoid getting bogged down by feelings of isolation, frustration, or discouragement? Apply these three strategies aimed at optimizing your mind and body:
1. Document your job search.
Whether you prefer to use a handwritten journal or set up a series of Google Docs, set weekly goals keep a record of each day’s progress. Track everything from contact information for target employers to your various résumés. Don’t forget to collect “softer” insights, too, such as lessons learned from a Zoom interview that went awry.
Keeping all your job search planning in one place serves a few purposes. First, it gives you a better sense of control over what’s happening. Secondly, it can serve as motivation given that creating a weekly action plan provides you with a framework to follow and milestones to complete. Best of all, you can begin to see patterns that can inform future decisions.
For instance, maybe you keep getting to final interviews with hiring managers only to hear a “no.” Rather than allow yourself to become deflated, write down all the questions from those interviews. Then, create more robust responses and practice them with a friend. That way, the next time these questions come up, you’ll have more pertinent answers.
2. Get serious about having fun. Just as it’s good to track your job-search progress every day, it’s important to pair this with a daily regimen of stress-busting activities. There are more ways to chill out than ever before, so pick what works for you and stick with it. Stress management guru Jordan Friedman has a full menu of fun and soothing options. If you let fatigue and negative emotions accumulate, it will snowball into a tough cycle of negativity that affects the way you present yourself to stakeholders.
3. Dress thoughtfully.
Can what you wear make a difference when you’re searching for a new role? Yes, and not just outwardly. Results from a fascinating experiment demonstrated that wearing formal clothing (defined by the researchers as something typically worn in a job interview) directly correlated to participants’ ability to process “big picture” abstract thoughts.
Similarly, your wardrobe might even make you feel more energized. Seth Casden, CEO of Hologenix, the producer of performance textile CELLIANT, explains that picking clothes made from particular materials can impact your health and wellness in unexpected ways. “Wearing smart fabrics and interactive textiles or responsive textiles is one way to optimize your body with health technology,” he writes. Some of the new developments in his industry sound like they were dreamed up for the Jetsons, but what an inspiring way to think about the fabrics you choose. Casden cites the example of infrared textiles, which “repurpose body heat. The heat transfer may have health benefits, such as increased temporary local blood flow.”
And remember that dressing smart isn’t just for face-to-face interactions, either. Spending a little time on your appearance before writing a cover letter or thank-you email can buoy your self-esteem. So forgo the sweats and fuzzy bunny slippers until you complete your job search tasks for the day.
4. Increase your social connections.
One of the most devastating outcomes of the pandemic has been a lack of socialization among people. One study found that this dearth of connection has led to an upsurge in loneliness. Another study from Harvard University equates prolonged loss of community with the long-term health effects of smoking and alcohol abuse.
Perhaps it’s been tough for you to keep in contact with friends and family for the past two years. Although understandable, now is the time when you need relationships more than ever. Having just one or two people to talk with during your job hunt can relieve you from pangs of isolation. Plus, you might get more of a boost than you anticipated. Plenty of people have stories to share about their own career switches. Listen to their advice — it could be just what you need.
Of course, after reviving some of your connections, consider asking your most trusted sounding boards to help prepare for in-person or online interviews. Going through the mock interview process offers training for the real thing; you get to work out the kinks in your delivery and temper your nerves. Be sure to ask your partner for constructive ideas, and try not to be let down if your mock interview partner wasn’t totally impressed. Having the opportunity to get stronger next time will be a huge advantage.
Right now, it’s an employee’s market for many industries. But that doesn’t mean it takes any less mental and physical energy to put yourself out there. These four activities will give your mind and body a much-needed boost.