Job adverts in a newspaper

February 16, 2021, by Jackie Thompson

How to maximise motivation while applying for jobs

By John Lim, UoN alumnus and founder of

You click the lovely “Apply” button at the end of application form. You think to yourself: finally, I got to the end of this application form! Yay!

Then you wait. And you keep waiting. And still, you continue to wait. You hear nothing. Every time a ping comes on your phone, you quickly check it. Hoping that someone will come back to you.

Somebody, anybody! Hello, is anybody out there? Still you send out those applications, with ever-diminishing returns.

You’re tired of the same questions:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Why do you want to join us?
  • What skills will you bring to this organisation?

If you’re feeling this like, here are my suggestions to help you get through.

Get off social media

Stop comparing yourself. Flick through Instagram and you will see pictures of your friends celebrating the new job or placement they’ve been offered.

My advice? Get off social media. Social media exacerbates the difference between what you don’t have (a job offer, for example), and what others have.

Because seeing others snag great jobs isn’t going to help you feel great about yourself. You end up comparing your experience to theirs.

I’m not telling you to stick your head in the sand. Think about it. Do you compare yourself to people who don’t have what you have? Like a university education. Friends who care for you. Tutors who are trying to help you.

If you don’t wish to permanently get off social media, try deleting it from your phone at least while you’re trying to find a job.

Stop applying for everything

Yup, you didn’t read that wrongly. Stop applying for everything.

Yes, yes, I know. You get as many opportunities as you apply for! Firstly, it’s not the quantity of applications that count. It’s the quality. Secondly, you are only able to convince others of hiring you, as far as you are able to convince yourself.

Have you got the answers?

Before you even figure out how to answer interview questions, you need to figure out how to answer your own questions. Tough questions about life, like:

  • Why am I here on earth?
  • What is the contribution I want to make here?
  • Where does my best contribution lie?

Take the time to reflect about the past experiences you’ve had in university. Ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What was the best day of work you’ve had over the past years in university? What was so special about it? What did you do that you loved so much?
  2. What was the worst day of work you ever had over the past years in university? What about it made it so bad?

These questions are important in helping you to know two things – your skills, and your interests. Very often, we focus on ‘passion.’ We hear things like ‘follow your heart’, ‘do what you love’, ‘find your passion’. That’s important, but that’s not all.

As Cal Newport* says,

You have to first get good before you get good work.

These are difficult times. And in difficult times, it’s not about the number of rejections you have. But it’s about bouncing back from failure faster. Harder. Stronger.

If you need help deciding what job areas would suit you based on your skills and interests, go to our No ideas? webpage and use the online resources to get your started. 

If you’re struggling to get beyond the application form or CV stage of the recruitment process, take a look at our advice and then book an appointment with our advisers to review your applications.

*Cal Newport, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

Posted in Applying For JobsCareer wellbeing