Sky com The unemployed persons guide to staying optimistic

Kate Faithfull | Monday 18 May 2009 | 10:48

... and bagging yourself the job you really want

There's never been a harder time to job-hunt than right now and with unemployment figures now over two million, you can't be blamed for wanting to pull the duvet over your head and stay in bed.

But is there anything more effective you can do? 'It's important to stay positive and proactive because you're more likely to get a job,' says Ros Toynbee, director of

Remind yourself what you can offer

'Your CV is only a diluted list of everything you can bring to a job,' says Toynbee. Now is the time to shake it up. 'Write a big list of all your work-related achievements in the last two years, then pick and mix different elements of that list for each different job application. It helps you stay positive because it reminds you that you've got lots to give.'

Recruit old colleagues' help

When you're feeling down, ask your ex-workmates what they think your key strengths are at work. 'Being told you're a great communicator, a fast learner or a brilliant organiser is a powerful ego-boost,' says Toynbee. 'Plus, you can use these compliments to add personality to covering letters: 'I have a reputation for', 'People come to me because' - making it easier to sell yourself.'

Visualise a positive outcome

This is a trick top athletes use: before a race, they visualise being first to cross the finish line. You can use the same skill to get a job. 'Write out your ideal job description, including who you'd work for and what skills you would use,' advises Toynbee. 'Even just thinking about it will move you to expand your possibilities and consider new career openings. Now visualise yourself performing in the interview, shaking hands, smiling, being calm, getting a rapport with the panel and finishing strong.' It gives you the confidence to put yourself out there.

Create a job search plan

'Each day, set up two networking meetings and do two job applications,' suggests Toynbee. 'Make it small and manageable and you'll feel good about yourself for getting it done. It's important to give yourself recognition for your achievements, not beat yourself up for things you didn't do.'

Give yourself time

Expect to spend several months on your job search. 'If you're two months in and you haven't got work, it's OK,' reassures Toynbee. 'Eighty-five per cent of people get their jobs through networking, so focus on this. If you only scour the internet for ads and get annoyed because your phone isn't ringing, you'll feel very dependent. So be proactive and network: find out about companies expanding, read the trade press, set yourself up on, arrange meetings with people in your industry. It makes your job search more efficient.'

Revise your strategy

What do you do if you're four months into your search and you aren't getting any meetings, you may need to change your approach. 'Going to a career coach for help can save you time, effort and frustration, give you independent advice and help you expand your horizons,' says Toynbee. An hour and a half spent revising your strategy can make you feel positive again. Expect to pay about £120 for a good coach.

Do something completely different

If your negative mood is sticking, you're more than fed up and you're still not getting anywhere in your job search, take a break. 'You don't have to take the next logical step for your CV,' suggests Toynbee. 'Do something you enjoy: whether it be travelling, fixing bicycles, taking an evening course or doing volunteer work. Forget about money for a few weeks and focus on what makes you tick.' You'll start a new job search feeling invigorated.