The number of people applying for every job vacancy is on the rise. This suggests that even tougher times may be ahead for job seekers. As if it wasn't tough enough already!
There is plenty of good advice around for job seekers. Nearly every committed job seeker knows how to write a good 2-page CV, and how to network, and they are all throwing everything they have got at their job search. Yet, for many people it clearly still isn't working, applications per job vacancy are on the rise. So what can you do? What's the missing ingredient that you can add to the standard mix of job search techniques, to get ahead of the game?
I think the answer lies in you. It's not an easy answer to put into practice, but any good sales person will tell you that people buy from people they like. Similarly, people give jobs to people they like. Obviously you have to have the skills and experience as well, but ultimately, when two or more candidates rank equally, the chances are the job will go to the person who managed to form the best relationship with the employer.
But to form good relationships you need to be positive and engaging. Which can be hard when you are weighed down by the burden of not having a job. Being positive is an essential pre-condition for your job search; if you feel negative or depressed it is going to come across when you meet people, and they won't buy you.
The missing ingredient in many people's job search is positivity. And, because we are all different, we all need different stimuli to help us to be positive. For some of us just a few days break from the grind of job searching will do the trick, or better still, a holiday if we can afford it. Others will find that a good workout in the gym, or regular sport, is enough to re-energise and motivate them. Some people will find their positivity through spiritual means, or with the help of friends or colleagues. Others prefer to get a boost from a professional; the most important task for a good career consultant is to keep their clients motivated and on track.
One good way to stay positive is to think about your achievements. You should anyway have a bank of achievements that you keep for your CV, so that every time you apply for a job you can include those which are most relevant. Your achievements demonstrate what you do when you are performing at your best. They are your measure of success. Achievements can come from any area of your life, work, family or social. One client told me that his greatest achievement was staying happily married for 25 years! Reviewing your list of achievements, and remembering how you felt when you accomplished them can help you recall the mood of success.
Another technique that can work is to listen to music that you really enjoy, just before you make an important call, or go into a meeting, or even while you are writing a job application. We all know how important music can be for our mood; so why not create a play list of tracks you really enjoy and put it on your phone so you always have it to hand?
Some people keep a notebook, or a page in their diary, where they jot down anything they've done that made them feel good. It can be as small a thing as going for a walk, or tidying up the kitchen; its not the action that matters so much as the fact it made you feel good when you did it. Referring back to it will rekindle that mood.
It doesn't matter how positive you are, there will be times when things go wrong. Particularly if you get rejected for a job that you really wanted, and thought you had a good chance of getting. It's important first and foremost to remember that in the current job market its all a bit of a lottery. As we said at the outset, the number of people applying for each job is on the rise. So if you get turned down, it may be disappointing but it's not because there is something wrong with you. It's just that someone else got lucky.
However, if you really do feel knocked back by a rejection, take several deep breaths, get up and go and do something else. You can't always force an emotion to go away, you have to wait for your mood to lighten in time. Once again, go back to your achievements. Focus on what you do well, and remind yourself that you are good. Read a self-help book or a website about self-confidence. If you need to, find a shoulder to cry on; it usually helps.
Staying positive is not always easy, in fact it's the hardest job search technique of all. It can feel artificial, pointless, trying to stay positive and failing can actually make you feel worse. But it is essential and if you can't manage it naturally, then its important to get some help. Nothing lasts for ever, not even unemployment. But how long it lasts depends on many factors, one of the most important of which is you.