5 ways to stay positive when you’re out of work

A couple of years ago, I returned to full-time employment after more than a year of hopping from freelance projects to part-time jobs to the live register and back again.

Mon, February 3rd, 10:18


What I remember most about that time is the guilt I felt whenever I did anything other than look for a job.

No matter how much time I spent browsing job ads or working on my CV, it never felt like enough. If I sat down in front of the television or read a book for more than five minutes, I got real pangs of guilt. It didn’t matter that most businesses were closed for the day, or that I had done an interview that afternoon – I was unemployed and that meant I should be looking for work.

It’s easier said than done but it’s vital that you don’t allow that feeling to get on top of you. It will only cause you to put unrealistic pressure on yourself and make a difficult situation even more miserable. Thankfully, there are a few tricks you can use to stay positive while you search for that brand new job.

Make a to-do list
Lists are a really effective method for managing your time and help you to visualise the hard work you are putting in every day. These lists should include job-hunting, household chores and other practical tasks. It’s not good enough to plan your day in your head; you need to write it down and cross items off when you complete them. The crossed off lists will help to give you some small sense of achievement and make it easier to switch off.

Be proactive
All jobseekers are proactive, making phone calls and sending CVs, but that can start to feel less important the more time you spend out of work. Look for other practical projects to occupy you between email applications. It will help you to feel like your time is worthwhile and provide a perfect distraction from jobseeker guilt. Try to find a project related to your job search, to make it even more effective.

Contact a recruitment consultant
As well as providing another potential channel to your job search, working with a recruitment consultant is a great way to share your job seeking activities. Your consultant will become your recruitment ally and help you to feel like you’re not doing it on your own.

Engage in training
Take as many opportunities to train as you possibly can. This will give you more ammunition when applying to prospective employers and help you to fill your days. Look into programmes like Momentum and JobsPlus, that are targeted directly at training people in long-term unemployment. It will help you to widen the scope of your job search and make you more employable.

Give yourself a break
The most important item on this list is also the most difficult. You can’t afford to let the guilt or fatigue get to you. Try to remember that you are human; there is only so much that you can do in any given day. More than that, remind yourself of the things you are good at and know that you will get back to work. No matter how far away it might seem, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Eoin Keenan

The Irish Times