Looking for a new job takes time and effort. There's your CV to update, application letters to write and interviews to attend. Additional pressures of work, family, redundancy or money worries mean if a job hunt is unsuccessful, it can be hard to deal with the knock-backs and pick yourself up to try again.
Jamie Ford, director of Foresight Learning Systems, says job search fatigue, rejection and loss of confidence can be helped by developing a "resilient mindset". This means perceiving that the reasons for setbacks often have limited duration, are quite restricted in their extent, and contain many factors over which we have no control.
Ford says resilience can be thought of as an "optimistic mindset" and involves paying attention to the language and words we use, because lots of us inadvertently use pessimistic language in the way we talk about our successes and failures.
The power of a resilient mindset is in enabling us to tackle tasks with energy and enthusiasm by thinking about the outcome, says Ford.
"It also enables us to put time into context and see that the hours invested in finding a new job are very few compared to the many years spent working over a lifetime."
Sharon Davies, managing director of recruitment solutions company Fusion by Talent Propeller, says being a "resilient employee" is important to prospective employers because it means being able to get the job done without crumbling under stress.
"As an employer, resilience is a personality trait I value in my employees as it's an essential element of a strong team," she says. "It's about being able to stay positive when applying for lots of jobs and getting lots of knock-backs. You have to get up each day and keep putting a positive and cheerful foot forward. I had a job-seeking candidate who shuffled into the interview with his head down, obviously despondent but continuing to try. The hiring manager asked how many interviews he'd been to and he said 150!
"He is now one of the top performers in their company and when things get tough, he displays the same grit and determination that kept him going in the job search."
Davies believes that attitude out-ranks experience in an interview.
"If a candidate was very experienced but had a bad attitude that showed in the interview or reference checks, they'd be unlikely to get the job. A can-do, will-do, positive outlook will inevitably triumph. In general, my clients hire for personality first, experience second."
Davies recommends candidates be assessed for their strengths and weaknesses, and her company offers a free 30-minute consultation designed to highlight a candidate's suitability for jobs. She says scientific testing and a discussion about the results is vital in an assessment.
"A general chat about what you like and are interested in is a good start, but results will help you focus on jobs where you'll impress a hiring manager. I have seen people apply for customer service jobs but rank poorly for patience and 'a genuine desire to assist others', so this is clearly not going to lead to long-term job satisfaction."
An assessment also enables candidates to give valuable insights during an interview.
"Imagine being asked, 'what are your weaknesses?' and being able to say, 'well, my latest personality profile highlights that my areas for improvement are, and here is what I am doing to address these'."
Davies advises seeking help for weaknesses. "Read blogs or help guides from people who have experienced the same thing, and consider the techniques they employed to improve themselves."
She says the secret to building resilience, which takes time, is to take knock-backs as a learning. "Assess what you could have done differently and move forward to try again." Her top tip for improving attitude is to surround yourself with positive people and learn from them.
"If you are the most negative person in your group, then it's time for a re-set."
Ford's five tips for staying resilient in the job hunt:
1. Use optimistic language and thoughts in all aspects of the process.
2. Remind yourself there is an employer out there looking for someone with knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are uniquely yours.
3. Keep in mind that every time you're declined, you're one application closer to the job that will really engage you.
4. Maximise your power over factors that influence your emotions. Cognitive psychology now proves Eleanor Roosevelt's belief that, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
5. Put yourself at risk of succeeding. Edison said, "I failed my way to success". The resilient simply perceive failure as a temporary state of affairs on the road to success.