How to Stay Motivated During Your Job Search

By Linda L. Hardenstein

Staying motivated when you’re searching for a new job can be a challenge. When I moved to Washington, DC from San Francisco some years ago without a job I thought I’d land a job right away with my degree and experience. What I hadn’t counted on was it taking almost eight months. I remember what it was like looking for a job every day even though I wasn’t getting any results.

It didn’t take me long to discover that I needed something to keep me motivated. Whatever it was had to be easy, inexpensive, not take too much time or effort (because I was pooped at the end of my days!).  I had to see that I making progress even if I didn’t feel like it at the end of a hard day.

Here’s a simple tool I came up with and you can use it too:

1.  Purchase a monthly wall calendar that’s about 12″ x 12.”  You can find one at a bookstore, stationery store, I have one I love from I prefer calendars with beautiful scenes of  places I’d like to visit. The Marian Heath calendar I have now is of Tuscany. A beautiful wall calendar can lift your spirits.

2. When you send out a job application make a note on that day on your wall calendar “sent application to so-and-so”.  Pick an ink color specifically for sending applications or resumes. Maybe you want to use blue.

3.  When you request and land an informational interview note it on your calendar and use a different color ink (maybe purple). When you actually meet with the person you’re interviewing note it again with a different color ink (maybe red).

4.  When you are invited to interview for a position note it on your wall calendar in another color ink (maybe green for go!).

Soon you have a color coded, visual representation of all of your efforts your beautiful calendar. At a glance you can see how productive you’ve been. It reminds you just putting yourself out there every day is an accomplishment and that you’re focused and working on your journey to find a job that you’ll love.

My wall calendar kept me going every day.  It kept me motivated and challenged to try to outdo myself by accomplishing more one week than I did the week before. My wall calendar also chronicled that I did 66 informational interviews in my first two months in Washington, DC. Those interviews helped me learn my way around town and build a sturdy network. I also discovered I was an expert at landing informational interviews (something I do for my clients now who are making career transitions).

Almost 20 years later I still have that wall calendar. I look at it when I need a reminder that with focused attention, energy, motivation and the tenacity to never give up I can accomplish anything!

For more ideas check out 10 Job Search Tips that Take Less than One Minute. Leave a comment about how you stay motivated or how these tips helped.

Linda Hardenstein, MPA, PCC, is a career strategist who has helped hundreds of  professionals and college students find their authentic path, achieve their career goals and gain more life satisfaction by doing the work they love. Reach her at