Being unemployed is hard. For many job seekers, it can be downright isolating. This is especially true for remote job seekers whose connection to recruiters and hiring managers is entirely virtual. Plus, studies show the unemployed have impaired mental health and lower self esteem.
Needless to say, it can be draining to tie your self worth to your job search. Often, it takes days if not weeks and months to hear back from jobs you’ve applied to (if you ever hear back at all). Add that to the lack of in-person connections and daily routine and, well, it can be a recipe for self-isolated disaster.
But, fear not! As a career coach, I work with remote job seekers to implement science-backed strategies to help build much needed momentum when unemployed.
1. Wake Up Early.
When you don’t have a job, why wake up early? For starters, an early start gives you a sense of purpose that goes missing when unemployed. Also, most recruiters and hiring managers start their own days at 9:00 a.m. sharp. You want to be readily available to take their calls.
Plus, it’s just plain good for you. Psychologists agree: waking up early and consistently is beneficial for your mental health. So, set your alarm clock or ask Alexa to gently wake you at 8:00 a.m. to Taylor Swift. Just don’t hit the snooze! You don’t have to hop out of bed ready and rarin’ to go. But you do need to get up and show up physically and mentally to your job search.
2. Get Showered and Get Dressed.
Many clients I work with envision endless days of PJs and yoga pants as a remote worker. And while remote work does allow for a certain level of comfort, it doesn’t mean you should nix pants altogether.
Just like waking up early, getting showered and dressed in an actual outfit changes the way we think. You put on business casual attire and you feel ready to work. When you stay in day-old pajama bottoms and sloppy tops, your attitude matches your lazy attire.
This is what psychologists refer to as enclothed cognition. (It’s a real thing. I promise.)
The positive mindset of getting showered and dressed is something to take advantage of every single day. So, get off your leggings clothed butt and put on some real pants. Your mental shift is beneficial to your job search (and your dog will thank you too).
3. Set Goals For The Day. Every Day.
There’s a reason I offer an entire coaching session focused solely on goal setting: Because setting short-term goals gives you motivation. I’m talking a full pot of coffee before 9:00 am. level of motivation.
Well, here’s some more science for you. According to researchers, goal setting leads to more successful outcomes. This is true even on a small scale, like daily goals.
Goal setting allows us to envision our ideal future. When we ‘see’ what can be, we’re more inclined to accomplish the tasks we need to get there. In this instance, that means picturing yourself as a full-time remote worker and committing to completing daily tasks to help you reach this vision.
So, how exactly do you set daily goals for yourself? Well, I like to tell my clients to focus on their Daily Top 3. These are 3 non-negotiable daily tasks that absolutely must get done. They don’t have to be giant tasks. Simply making a new LinkedIn connection, applying to a job or revising your cover letter count. What matters is these goals are job search related and will help you move forward.
And, don’t forget to write your goals down! Back to science, writing your goals down increases your chance of achieving them by 40%. Grab a post-it and a pen and jot them down. Place it in a spot you’ll see throughout the day. This little step helps you stay focused, on task and keeps you moving forward.
4. Check Your Email on Schedule.
Your inbox is a total time suck. It’s easy to get caught up in an endless cycle of emails, even when you’re unemployed. And, honestly, you have no control over how many people email you in any given day.
But, what you do have control over is how often you check your emails. Do not leave your inbox open so you get an alert every time a new message comes your way. You end up checking your email while conducting other job search activities. And this type of multitasking is counterproductive.
Studies show that it takes more than one minute to recover from an email interruption. Don’t give up precious time to email distractions.
Instead, schedule email breaks. These are set times throughout the day you devote to popping into your inbox and responding to messages.
Researchers found that those who schedule email breaks into their day reduced their daily stress. And who couldn’t use a little less stress when job searching?
So, do yourself a favor and schedule three breaks throughout the day to check and respond to emails — once in the morning, once midday, and once at the end of the day. That’s it.
5. Get Out of The House.
You know the saying that looking for a job is a full time job? Well, it’s true. I’ll give you that. But, it doesn’t mean you should tether yourself to your desk all day every day. It’s not good for you, which means it’s not good for your job search.
When you find yourself unemployed, your reason for getting out of the house every day (i.e., your job) is no longer there. Before you know it, it’s been days since you last ventured out.
This isn’t great, especially since science tells us that getting outside is beneficial to our mental health. Even a simple walk outside can boost creativity by as much as 60 percent.
It doesn’t mean you have to plan an outing every day. However, you should try to get out and about as much as possible. Take a walk. Meet a friend for lunch. Treat yourself to coffee. Go feed the ducks at the park. It doesn’t matter what you do. What matters is that you take a break from the confines of your home so you can experience greater clarity and increased productivity — two important factors that will contribute to success in your remote job search.
6. Get Social.
A job loss undoubtedly results in financial losses. But, studies show us that our social well being takes a major hit too. That’s because, through work, we fulfill psycho-social needs like having contacts and interactions with people outside of our immediate family.
When we lose a job, we lose those daily social contacts and sense of purpose that goes along with it. And, when we try to fill our days with job search activities, it gets pretty isolating and fast.
Not to mention, the unemployed tend to place a social stigma on themselves. That is, they don’t want to go out and enjoy themselves because they’re out of work. Other times, they want to avoid social interactions so as not to have to talk about their job loss.
But social isolation isn’t good for you or your job search. Don’t feel like you have to take a step back from socialization while out of work. Being social gives a big boost to your mental health and can lead to job opportunities. Remember, as much as one-third of jobs are landed via personal referrals.
Okay. This is a bonus one, but it’s totally okay to get some help. In fact, that’s why I’m here. As a career coach, I support your job search and keep you accountable. A level of accountability when unemployed often eliminates distractions and time spent on unproductive tasks according to this study.
Remember, the average remote job search takes 5-7 months. You don’t have to go through the monthslong process alone. Hire a career coach to stay on task and reduce the isolation that often hits when facing a job loss.
Ashlee Anderson, CPCC