Wellness and Stress

Managing Job Search Stress

For most people, job hunting is an unfamiliar task. This is especially so for people who haven’t had to seek employment for a long time. The need to balance family, finances, personal life, schedules and other issues can make job hunting stressful. There are lots of things to consider and a variety of uncertainties that need to be resolved.

Like a lot of things in life, it’s the unknown that causes the most stress. Understanding the tasks ahead and knowing there are tools and resources to help you achieve job search success can go a long way toward reducing stress.

In the following, we’ll talk about approaches to reduce the variables that cause stress when searching for a new job. We’ll also offer suggestions for stress prevention strategies.

Recognizing and Dealing with Job Search Stress

Managing StressStress can manifest itself in many ways. Common symptoms and warning signs include anxiety, apathy, frustration, boredom, negativism, frustration, depression, irritability and physical problems.  Plain and simple, excessive stress can be bad for your physical and mental health. It can also have negative consequences as you interact with family and friends.

Beyond the obvious health issues, stress can make you appear nervous, or even desperate, to potential employers. It can adversely impact how you present yourself to employers and how well you do in job interviews.

Managing stress is vital to maximizing job search performance. It can make a big difference in how you feel and, ultimately, in how long your job search lasts.

Reducing Stress – Some Things to Avoid

Avoiding things that can add to stress can help you make better progress in your job search. Because things that can increase stress aren't always obvious, it is a good idea to start by considering some basic things to avoid.

Procrastination: This is one of the most common stress-inducers in the job search process. Job hunting isn’t normally perceived as a real job, but it can be just as important as any other job in your life. Avoid the temptation to delay doing what needs to be done. If you make your job search a priority and address it with enthusiasm, you can reduce stress and increase your chances for a successful and timely job search.

Perfectionism: The pursuit of perfection isn’t always a bad thing. However, perfection is seldom attained. Avoid delays or roadblocks that the pursuit of perfection can cause. Don’t spend countless hours revising a resume only to find that you submitted it too late to be included in the running for a job opening. You need to do a good job with every aspect of your job search, but don’t let the pursuit of perfection get in the way.

Feeling Helpless: You have a surprising amount of control over your job search. Granted, you can’t control the impact of the economy or the timing of available jobs, but you can control how you pursue your job search and how you present yourself to prospective employers. Use the tools that have been made available to you and be proactive in your pursuit of a new job.

Negative Attitude: Having a positive attitude can go a long way toward helping you succeed in every aspect of life. This holds true for the job search process. A feeling of pessimism will tend to permeate all aspects of your job search. Keep a positive “can-do” attitude, monitor your progress and keep moving forward. Many jobs are found by being at the right place at the right time. Make this work to your advantage.

Negative People: From time-to-time, you may encounter others who are struggling with their job search. There may also be people you interact with who are negative about your chances for success, the job market, etc. People like this can have a negative impact on your attitude and self-esteem. Try to avoid such people and remind yourself that their attitude does not have to adversely impact how you feel or how you approach your job search.

Reducing Stress – Some Things to Do

Be Proactive: Every aspect of a successful job search strategy requires that you be proactive. Whether doing research, sending out resumes or networking, you need to proactive, avoid procrastination, and dig in with enthusiasm. Timing and opportunity are important parts of the job search process. You need to be sure you are engaged enough in the job search process to take advantage of that timing and opportunity.

Stay Physically Fit: There is a lot to be said about the relationship between a healthy body and a healthy mind. Staying fit helps keep one’s attitude positive and helps avoid stresses that might be related to substandard health. Don’t neglect things like exercise and a healthy diet during the course of your job search. Take a walk, go to the gym, ride a bike, play with the kids, etc. You will feel better and present yourself better to prospective employers as a result.

Stay Organized: There are lots of details to manage when searching for a job. Keeping track of when and where you apply for jobs, which resumes you sent, monitoring required follow-up, etc. entails managing a lot of information. Be sure you know how to respond when a recruiter calls and says they want to discuss the resume you sent. Will you know which job you applied for, which version of your resume you sent, what qualifications the employer is looking for? Staying organized and monitoring your progress helps with your job search and keeps stress to a minimum. See the "Downloads" menu for Job Search Tracking tools.

Stick with a Routine: If you think of a job search in the same context as a regular job, there are certain things that must be done on a regular basis. You should establish a comfortable, but reasonable job search routine and stick to it. For example, you might start your day by doing a little research on your job market or industry trends. You might follow that up with a review of job posting boards on the Internet. You can then spend time with the various tools and resources found in Job Hunter Pro. A portion of each day could be spent networking, practicing your interview skills using the Interview Trainer application, etc.

Keep it Simple (but not too simple): Job Hunter Pro contains a lot of information, tools, resources and the like to help keep your job search as simple and easy as possible. Use the forms, templates, and techniques presented so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You may still need to customize some of the forms and templates provided, but they will help jump start the process for you. Be cautious about Internet services that make searching for a job sound too simple. Don’t depend on resume broadcasting services, job aggregators and automated job search engines to do the job for you.

Reduce Unnecessary Expenses: Being out of work usually means a reduction in household income. While things like unemployment compensation may help fill the void, they seldom make up for a steady paycheck. Take a look at your day-to-day living expenses and see which ones can be reduced or eliminated. Do what you can to minimize the financial impact of being between jobs.

Spend Time Where it Counts Most: Finding a job entails a wide range of activities. Invest in activities that help you market yourself effectively. Start with the basics like a quality resume, a list of references, identifying networking contacts, and the like. Initially, don’t spend too much time on activities that don’t have a fairly quick payoff. Searching for a job takes time and you need to budget the bulk of your time on priority tasks.

Monitor Your Progress: As your job search progresses, you’ll likely find that some activities are more fruitful than others. Monitor your job search progress so you can determine which activities are working best. You can then focus more of your attention on those tasks. Other tasks will take on less significance, but should not be dropped. Your job search should utilize a wide spectrum of processes and tools.

Set Realistic Expectations: Determine a realistic amount of job search work you can do each day. It should be a reasonable effort, but not one that overwhelms you. It is also important to have a realistic understanding of how long a job search takes for the type of position you are seeking. As a general rule, higher-level jobs and those requiring unique skills will take longer to find than more common jobs where skill-sets are fairly common. There are lots of variables, including market and economic conditions that will impact the time required to obtain a job. Some Internet research will help you stay abreast of the latest job market trends and typical timelines to find a job.

Don’t Expect the Perfect Job: Be cautious about seeking and landing your dream job. While that is a wonderful goal, be realistic about your prospects for landing a dream job. You should be willing to consider jobs that may not fit into the “perfect” category. In difficult economic times, one must weigh a lot of factors when thinking about what types of jobs one should consider. Seeking perfection in a job can add a lot of stress to one’s life.

Maintain a Positive Attitude: Don’t get discouraged. Feeling negative about yourself or the job market can suck the energy out of you and create a lot of stress. Recognize that the job market and overall economy are things you have little control over. Don’t take them personally. You are one of many people affected by these variables. Recognize that you can improve your odds over others by being positive and proactive in your job search. It just takes time and the right effort to make it happen.