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It can be really hard to stay upbeat in a job search, especially if you’ve been out of work for a while. How can you stay motivated in your job search?

The best way to stay motivated and confident is to set realistic goals that aren’t activity-based, but are instead performance-based. What do I mean by that?

Activity-based goals focus on what you do. In a job search, you might say, "My goal is to look for a job for 8 hours today." If you hit it for 8 hours, then you met your goal. job search motivation

The trouble is that meeting that goal of job searching for 8 hours may not get you any closer to getting an interview than if you'd taken the day off to binge on Netflix.

This is why your goals need to be action-based, or based on actions that get you interviews.  That looks more like, "I'm going to contact 10 hiring managers today," or "I'm going to talk to 5 people today about my job search." If you break it down into specific action steps like this and complete the steps, you'll start seeing progress. Just remember...if the things you do aren't working to get you interviews, it's time to do something else.

If you’re not getting interviews, you need to be reaching out to professionals who can help you:  career coaches, resume writers, profile coaches for LinkedIn, industry experts, and functional experts who can give you insight on how to be more strategic and successful.

Have a realistic plan.  I don’t think your job search should take 8 hours a day, like some would suggest. If you keep that up for a couple of weeks, you’ll be crushed. Instead, try spending 5 hours a day on your job search and the other 3 on something that will enrich you, like learning a new sport or an instrument, or reading up on the industry or taking a class…something that will better yourself and make you a stronger person than you were before.

For instance, I got a letter from a candidate who, after he was fired, joined a gym and lost 50 pounds.  In addition, he signed up for a resume service, and bought some Career Confidential products so that he could have cutting-edge tools and guidance. He had a new job within 3 months—and it was a better job than the one he lost.  And he looks better and feels better than he did before.

If you can identify the areas where you can improve and grow, and take action, then you can have this kind of success, too.  So instead of being a negative experience, your job search can be a positive, opportunity-filled one.

Don't forget to reward yourself for your successes along the way to stay motivated in your job search.

*** Check out the many job search tools offered by Career Confidential and try something new.