When it comes to applying for jobs, the process can be tedious. Sending application after application, never hearing anything back after the confirmation email your application’s been received, and never feeling like you’re getting any promising leads — despite the fact you’ve got tons of experience and great reasons why you’re the perfect fit for the job, you don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Even when you land an interview, you never seem to move much further in the process. What gives?

It’s 2018 and time to reassess your job application process. Even though you’re working hard, you may be doing a few things that are holding you back without even knowing it. So if you really want to land that dream job in 2018, make sure you use the following strategies.

1 Create a job-applying ritual

It may be seem silly, but it’s important to establish a ritual whenever you want to ensure you’re focusing on something intensely. By creating the right headspace for yourself — whether it’s having a cup of coffee every morning before sitting down in front of your laptop or picking a specific seat in the public library where you work every weekday — you’re more likely to be productive. Once you’ve made this a habit, you’ll feel ready to apply for jobs every single time you start to execute that routine.

One of the smartest things you can do is exercise first thing in the morning. In addition to lowering the general anxiety you may feel about applying for jobs, exercise makes you more creative and boosts productivity. Take advantage of the fact that you’re “funemployed” and make some time for exercise during the time you’d normally be making your commute. There’s no need to spend money on it, either — check out this list of the 50 best free workout resources online to get started.

2 Curate your content

However challenging it may be, it’s so important to ensure that, for every job you apply to, you customize every piece of writing you submit to that company and position. You want to stand out from the crowd, because every corporate job opening attracts — on average — 250 resumes. Even though it will take extra effort, recruiters can tell when applicants really care about the position versus when they’ve just sent boilerplate material. For example, if you’re applying for a creative job, make your cover letter a little creative in the beginning, showcasing your talent.

Don’t forget to personalize your resume and tailor it to the job, changing the order of your positions based on what’s most relevant and highlighting certain aspects of the job to make yourself seem like the perfect candidate. The more you practice this skill, the better you’ll get it; at a certain point, you’ll have specific letters you can reuse and repurpose for different kinds of jobs, only requiring little tweaks to submit. To get started, check out this guide on personalizing cover letters from The Balance.

3 Don’t give up

One of the most challenging aspects of applying to jobs is continuing to feel motivated and inspired as rejections start to come your way. It’s easy to throw in the towel and give up, sticking to the job you already have but completely hate or staying at home unemployed, waiting for the day your luck somehow changes.

That’s why it’s important to learn how to encourage yourself, whether that means spending one day a week visiting museums or going on a road trip at the end of the month with friends to celebrate your hard work. You need to do what it takes to keep yourself motivated and reminded that your current situation won’t last forever. If you have money saved up, don’t feel guilty about spending some of it. You have to have faith the job will come, otherwise, you’ll quickly lose motivation. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you’re keeping up with healthy habits every day, like eating well and exercising.

Keep track of the jobs you apply for on an Excel sheet so you can track your progress and see the hard work you’ve been doing, even if you aren’t necessarily seeing results right away. The important thing is to know that eventually they’ll come, as long as you stay motivated and keep working. It’s also helpful to spruce up your profile on social media platforms like LinkedIn, recruiters’ number 1 social network, since it can not only help you find job openings, but also keep you engaged and connected with your industry. In 2018, we are heavily dependent on social media to build relationships and manage our social currency, as evidenced by movies like People You May Know, which explores the subject.

Whether you’re applying to become a writer for a major publication, searching for a desk job doing advertising for a company like Juul e-cigarettes, or working to answer questions for money as a tutor, there are plenty of job opportunities out there. The important thing is finding the right fit for your situation and staying motivated throughout the tedious application process. Eventually, you will find something. All you need is time and to believe in yourself.

What dream job are you pursuing in 2018?

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