This is a guest post by Vicky Oliver.

Jobsearch-stressEveryone who’s ever been forced to look for a job knows that preserving one’s confidence can be difficult, especially throughout a protracted search. You may be doing all the “right” things, that is, valiantly getting up early, putting in the hours to research positions, and writing thoughtful cover letters. But long stretches without any positive feedback or signs that you are getting close to success can depress your spirits.


While the statistics on higher depression rates among the long-term unemployed are well documented, don’t let yourself become a statistic.


For if you can manage to stay upbeat, there is a real upside: Most employers prefer to hire workers with a positive outlook.


Follow this 12-step guide to bolster your self-confidence:


1. Work your body. Release your stress with movement that gets your heart rate going. (Think endorphins.) Kickboxing is a great tension releaser. Even a powerwalk will clear your head and stave off insomnia. Focusing your mind on what’s good for your body will keep job worries from infiltrating your every waking hour. A bonus: You can set small, achievable goals that will make you feel in control while you’re waiting for your resume and cover letters to “land” with the right person.


2. Do for others. Volunteering for a cause can help put your problems in perspective. The options are endless: Take books to the homebound. Walk dogs at a pet shelter. Become an older brother to an underprivileged kid. Doing something meaningful for someone else may help reset any self-pitying scripts running through your head. A bonus: If your volunteer gig helps you build new skills or improve on any old skills, it could even be a resume builder.


3. Explore a new hobby. Do you dream of writing the great American novel? Would you like to catalog your ancestry? Or learn the craft of jewelry making? There is literally no time like the present.


4. Take yourself on a date. Reserve a day every week or two to reward yourself for all the hours you’ve put into your job search. Take in a museum. Catch the new movie everyone’s talking about. A bonus: You will have more to discuss at your job interview.


5. Undergo a makeover. Have you been sporting the same hairstyle or putting on make up the same way for longer than you can remember? A new look can really lift your confidence level. Now, there’s even an app for trying out new hair colors. If you’re feeling frugal, then think of ways you can subtly change your look without spending a penny. Change the part in your hair to the other side. Borrow a friend’s sweater or jacket. Watch your self-esteem improve.


6. Catch up with friends. Chances are, you’re tired of having to tell people that you’re still unemployed. But once you move past the inevitable questions about your job search, your friends can be a great diversion from combing through job boards. Friends don’t let friends stay jobless. With any luck, your friends will provide you with a lead.


7. Keep learning. Tackle a computer program or beef up on the foreign language you haven’t used since college. If you have money set aside, you may even take the opportunity to travel. Usually you never have the time, so try to see this as a benefit.


8. Join a new group. Joining up with a new circle of people will get you out the door and broaden your network. Whether it’s a social group that bike-hops to new tapas venues or a group of activists taking on a social cause, mingling with new people will keep your social skills sharp.


9. Embark on a TV series. Escapism isn’t always a bad thing. And let’s face it, if you’re not up on Game of Thrones or Better Call Saul, you can feel socially deprived. But beware the urge to binge-watch if it encroaches on your work (seeking) hours.


10. Visit your favorite family member. Who among your tribe believes in you the most? Is it that great-uncle who knows without your telling him just what you’re going through? Or a younger sibling who still looks up to you no matter how many rejections you’ve accrued? Spend time with those who love you and can nourish your soul.


11. Redecorate your digs without spending money. Now that you’re “working” from home 24/7, change up the décor. Move your furniture around or switch out artwork or photos. Throw out your clutter or donate it to charity. Keeping your external space fresh can also refresh the space inside your head.


12. Keep yourself on a tight schedule. Treat the task of looking for a job as a job. It’s the best way to stay on track. Resolve to devote a few hours each morning to your search. Then, fill your afternoons with some of the activities described above. When you know that you’re doing a great job of job-seeking, your self-esteem will automatically improve.


About the Guest Post Author:

Vicky Oliver is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks 2005), named in the top 10 list of “Best Books for HR Interview Prep,” and 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions (Skyhorse 2010). She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media target, having made over 700 appearances in broadcast, print, and online outlets. For more information, visit