How To Stay Motivated In Your Job Search

How to stay motivated in your job search by using gamification

Being on the job hunt for weeks can be frustrating, and it’s hard to know how to stay motivated in your job search. Looking for prospective employers and potential job fits, and waiting in vain for a response are common complaints of job seekers.  After several job application submissions and little to no response later, you start to feel it.  That heavyweight on your chest and in your head.  This is the time in your job search it becomes important to stay motivated.  It may also be the time to question why you aren’t seeing results and thoughts begin to rumble in your head:

  • “Is there something wrong with me?”
  • “Why don’t employers see how great I am?”
  • “How many more applications is this going to take before I see results?”

The truth is that most job seekers have been here.  Talk to anyone who has searched for a job in the past 15 years and I guarantee that they have had similar thoughts or experiences.  Hearing a lot of denials and “no’s” can have an adverse effect on us as humans.  When you want something and you hear no, our brains are wired to think that we aren’t enough.  In reality, it’s not that you aren’t enough, it’s that there is something better out there for you.

The entire job search process can be frustrating, and that’s why we need to turn job seeking into a fun game of hide and seek.  If you gamify the experience, you will begin to power your job search with curiosity – a powerful motivator.

Turning Your Job Search Into a Game


If you keep hearing “no.”  Or “we’ve decided to move in a different direction.”  Or “we won’t be moving forward with you.” here’s how you can harness that curiosity.  During a job search, some rejection is undoubtedly going to happen, and so it’s time to make the job search into a game.

For instance, let’s say there are 6 levels that you need to complete to get that new job with a specific company.  Each level is a unique labyrinth of puzzles that you must complete before you can get to the next level with a specific company. But after mastering each, you’ll feel a sense of completion. Asking ‘what did I learn’ at each level, will harness your curiosity and keep away nagging self-doubt.

Level 1:  Research and Learn

You can do research on a specific company you are interested in applying to.  What do they sell and why are they in business?  What interests you about the position?  Who are the people in the organization who have decision making power about hiring you?  Information is power in level 1.

Level 2:  Overcome Resume Mountain

You complete your cover letter and resume, specifying keywords used in the job listing to your show you have the skills and abilities to meet the job requirements.  You address your cover letter to a specific person in the company.

Level 3A:  Connect and Hustle

You use your network and social media to reach the right people.  Do you know anyone who works at the company or has worked there in the past?  Can you find people within the organization to connect with via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook?  Level 3 is a great time to reach out to these people, whether social media, phone, or email.  This is the time to make yourself known as someone who can fulfill a need that the company is looking for.

Note – you should always complete levels 1-3A when applying to a job.  Depending on what you hear back or don’t will determine if you move on to level 4.

Level 3B:  Communicate Your Desires

Follow up.  If you haven’t heard anything back from the company or person you are interested in speaking with, it’s time to reach out again.  Usually within 3-5 days of level 3A.

Level 4:  Preparing for Mastery

You secured an interview!  Whoop!  Now it’s time to prep.  Do you have the right clothes ready?  Do you have a small binder or folder that you can take with several copies of your resume or with additional information about yourself that you could give to a hiring manager?  Level 4 is all about prepping for the interview.

Level 5:  Save the Village

Interviewing skills.  80% of getting the job after you are in the room with a hiring manager is presenting yourself as someone who will be a team player and get along well with people in the office.  A hiring manager is most likely more concerned about how you will interact with others around you vs. if you have the exact specific skill set.  Now if you are applying to become a rocket scientist, the skill set could weigh quite heavier.  In general, people want to hire good people that they and their colleagues will get along with.  Make a great impression, and if you don’t have the exact skill set required, that is okay, and explain your eagerness to learn a new system.

Level 6:  Become the Hero

You received a job offer!  Way to go!  Now how do you beat the game?  Well, you could accept the offer and win!  Or, maybe it’s not quite the offer you wanted.  How do you negotiate?  Maybe you want an extra week of vacation because you have that at your current employer.  Maybe you need some flexibility to work remotely.  Maybe you want more salary or benefits.  The easiest negotiation is if it is already something your current employer is giving you.  More vacation, more money, a bonus structure, etc.

The tougher negotiations are asking for more than what you already have.  As a general rule of thumb, it never hurts to ask.  But be ready to answer the question of “why?”  Why do you want $10k more per year?  If you don’t have a good reason, an employer isn’t going to be likely to bend on things like that.  While it never hurts to ask, it is pretty tough to negotiate salary without having proven your worth to a company.  One way is to know exactly what the market in your area pays a position that you are being hired for.  Glassdoor has a salary calculator that you can use. Also, you can view our post on current salaries in Iowa based on public data.

So the next game becomes –  accept the job, crush it for a year, prove your worth, and be in that position to go to your boss and ask for a raise the following year because of the extra responsibility you have taken on.

Which level do you need a mentor to help you push through? Maybe it’s time to ask for help. Check out our Career Resources section or Job Tips to learn more.

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