What To Do When the Job Outlook is Grim

Ten per cent unemployment. Dozens of applicants for every job. Superbly qualified people willing to take huge compensation cuts in order to regain employment. In the face of these phenomena, it’s no wonder that countless numbers of Americans have either stopped looking for work altogether, or are so depressed by their presumed prospects that their job hunting efforts are half-hearted. Half-hearted efforts aren’t going to fix the problem. Even in the highly unlikely chance that a job should “fall into your lap” through networking or just plain dumb luck, you need to have an upbeat, energetic attitude and demeanor to guarantee that your performance will be top-notch, and that your job will last. Some of the things you can do to turn around your frame of mind:


Whether it’s training for a triathlon or just walking a couple of times around the block, physical movement generates a sense of momentum and possibility. Part of this is chemical (the release of endorphins), and part of this is psychological (setting a goal and achieving it). Of course you’re probably not going to feel like exercising when you’re down in the dumps, but try to push yourself through that resistance. After all, you probably don’t feel like brushing your teeth a lot of the time, but you do it because you know you need to. YOU NEED TO EXERCISE!


Being unemployed or partially employed means many, many hours of free time. Don’t waste them watching reality TV or the Shopping Channel. Find a cause or organization you have a passion, or even some sympathy, for and call tor e-mail to determine what opportunities there are to be of service. Volunteering gives you a place to go, something of a schedule to follow, the opportunity to interact with other people, and the chance to make a difference. You may even make a connection that could lead to a job! And again you’ll experience a sense of achievement .

Set some achievable short-term goals!

Perhaps the surest way to develop a sense of achievement is to set yourself some goals that can be attained relatively quickly and with relatively little effort (or perhaps even some enjoyment). Clean out a closet. Go through a box of old photographs. Bake a cake. Plant some radishes. Compliment three people. Knit a scarf. Organize your tool kit. The project itself is less important than identifying it, embarking on it, and completing it. So make sure it’s a project that you can be reasonably confident of completing.

More on how to re-energize yourself next week.