No question about it, many of us will all have to either change careers, search for a job, or many jobs, in our lives. A job search can take weeks, often months and not always successfully. As human beings, our responses to the challenge differ: many of us will be hopeful, energised and motivated by the challenge; others will be uncertain, fearful, and anxious. And, what is more, we may experience the full range of emotions, the highs and the lows, swinging from elation to despair and back, in a day or a week.

For example, the news that you were on the shortlist of three candidates for a job but had been overlooked can flatten you. Equally, self-assessed dissatisfaction with your performance in an interview can vanish in an instant when you are told you are still in the running. Almost by definition, the job search process is characterised by ups and downs, filling many jobseekers with dread and self-doubt, uncertainty and anxiety about the future and the impact of joblessness on family and loved ones.

Here are some strategies to manage this roller coaster:

1. Acknowledgement and acceptance

It is important to recognise that the job search is a process with peaks and valleys in emotions and activities, a mix of good times and bad times which may be frequent and irregular and which may last some time.

Knowing and accepting this from the outset will prepare you better to manage them when they do arise, especially the debilitating downward phases. Importantly, accepting this as a normal part of the process will allow you to avoid taking it personally and will increase your resilience, the ability to rebound strongly from disappointment and move forward.

2. Take responsibility for your response

Almost inevitably, negative emotions are going to arise. Rather than avoiding, or suppressing them, or overthinking them and running the risk of anxiety or depression, experts recommend activities like mindful meditation or journaling.

These activities allow us to engage more closely with, and fully accept our emotions and to work through them without feeling pressured to change them. A classic study demonstrated the effectiveness of journaling in unemployed engineers: those that embraced this intervention were three times more likely to find a job than those that did not. Further, brief mindfulness meditation will improve emotional processing and reduce emotional reactivity overall.

3. Get support

In addition to family and friends, which on their own may not be enough, having someone to talk to such as a career coach is important for emotional support.

A career coach experienced in the job search process can assist you to normalise what you are going through and guide you as to what steps you should be taking. By ‘partnering’ you on your journey, a career coach can play an essential role in your success.

4. Be active

Your mood an energy will have an impact on the way others respond to you and nowhere is it more important than in the job interview. Fill your days with things that energise and revitalise you such as exercise, listening to your favourite music or meeting friends for coffee, whatever works for you.

Exercise is imperative: it lifts one’s mood, improves self-esteem, sharpens motivation and helps focus the mind on the task at hand. In short, exercise helps you to be the best you can be and sets you up to be confident in interviews.

5. Maintain perspective

Remember, when things are not going as smoothly as you would like or in the way you would expect, your job search may not be the most pressing item on the agenda of contacts or recruiters.

By seeing setbacks as temporary ‘blips’ on the road to your next job can help de-personalise the situation, avoid unnecessary self-destructive negative emotional processing and assist you to be more positive and optimistic and ultimately successful.

In summary, utilising some or all the above strategies can help smooth out the inevitable emotional highs and lows of the job search, protect you from the negative impact on your self-confidence and keep you motivated and resilient for the duration of the journey.

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