There are two types of motivation in your job search:
Each type of motivation requires different energy and focus, and, therefore, a different strategy. It is similar to taking two different classes—one where the emphasis is on weekly exams versus another where the grade rests on research papers. The way that you prepare for each class will be different. The pace at which you do your work will differ. In a job search, the weekly exams are the networking meetings and interviews (in fact, you will have more than one exam during the busy weeks of your search). Getting from job idea to job offer is a long-term project, akin to a multiweek research paper.
To retain long-term motivation for your job search overall, you need to take certain actions:
Long-term motivation is the marathon aspect of your job search. If you are experienced at long-term projects, such as big research papers, then you can apply your experience and know-how about pacing and scheduling to your job search. If you are a better student in the weekly exam class model, then you need to periodically remind yourself of your overall job search goals. Select from the specific strategies for maintaining long-term motivation later in this chapter.
A good example of maintaining long-term motivation is the case of Emily G., a class of 2008 undergraduate who was interested in the media industry and had moved to New York City after college in Pennsylvania. Her job search took over a year, during which time she held a series of internshipsA job set up for the purpose of learning or developing the intern. While the employer also benefits, the difference between an internship and a regular job is that the primary purpose of the internship should be the intern’s development. and part-time jobs, all while conducting her search. She graduated during a serious downturn in the economy. She received two offers that were rescinded, through no fault of her own, because the budget for those positions was cut. It took over a year, but her third offer finally stuck, and she is happily employed at a major media company in human resources.
In addition to long-term motivation, individual situations in the job search, such as a job interview, call for increased energy and focus. For every job interview, you will need to be at your best, regardless of whether the commute to the interview was tiring, whether you woke up feeling a bit down, or whether you stubbed your toe on the reception desk right after you walked in at your appointed time. This short-term motivation provides an immediate and necessary boost to whatever is the focus of your search right now.
There are many instances across your job search where you need to harness short-term motivation:
If you are a better student in the research paper class or you like to ease into a situation, then you need to ramp up your preparation for the high-stakes events like job interviews. Prospective employers form impressions very early in the process. You will not have the first five minutes of an interview to ease into it. Your interviewer will already have an opinion of you from meeting you at reception or from the small talk you make at the start of the interview.
A good example of maintaining short-term motivation is the case of K. V., an experienced executive who was negotiating an end to her contractA legal agreement. Most employment does not require contracts between employers and employees, but for very senior roles you will see employment agreements, or contracts. at a major firm while negotiating a new role at another one, all while continuing to do her high-profile management job. K. V. would often have very different types of meetings in the same day, from contentious negotiations with her bosses to enthusiastic sales meetings with her future bosses. She had to maintain composure and advocate hard for herself in a severance negotiation, and then turn around and be cheery for an offer negotiation. She was able to be at her best in each scenario, came to an amicable end with her former employer, and is now enjoying a bigger role at her new employer.