Career Insight

How to Deal with Stress During a Job Hunt

How to Deal with Stress During a Job Hunt

By Ashley Cullins

Excitement. Disappointment. Anger. Fear. Hope. Self-doubt. These are just a few of the emotions you likely feel during a typical job hunt. Riding this emotional rollercoaster, especially when combined with financial uncertainty, is a sure recipe for stress.

Stress negatively impacts physical and mental health—and your ability to put your best foot forward. It impairs memory and focus, and it limits productivity. That’s the last thing you need during a job search.

Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed about a current job search, or are looking for healthy ways to cope in the future, you’ve come to the right place. Try these simple strategies to kick that job search stress to the curb.

Break the Job Hunt into Smaller Tasks

Finding a new job feels like a huge and overwhelming task. It’s hard to know where to begin, and we know it can be easy to get discouraged.

Limiting your stress starts with a shift in perspective. Break your big, scary goal (landing a job) into smaller, more manageable steps. These steps might include:

  • Reflecting on your previous work experience

  • Making a list of what you do and don’t want in your next role

  • Updating your resume

  • Creating or revamping your LinkedIn profile

  • Browsing job listings

  • Attending 3 networking events each month

As you send in applications and prepare for interviews, do some research to learn more about the company and think through potential interview questions. Don’t forget to find a fly outfit to make a great first impression.

As you complete each mini-goal along the way, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. That warm, fuzzy feeling will motivate you to take another step—and then another. Before you know it, you’ll have scaled that huge staircase, one step at a time.

Get Organized

Once you’ve listed your steps, write them on a calendar. Give yourself deadlines to stay organized and motivated. Keep track of where you’ve applied, what responses you hear, and when your interviews are scheduled. Let’s call it your Job Search Playbook.

When an anxious question pops into your head (like “Did I ever fill out that application?” or “What was the name of my contact person again?”), you’ll feel better knowing you’ve got all the details written out in your handy-dandy guide.

Maintain Healthy Habits

Your physical health affects your mental health, energy levels, and productivity. So, as tempting as it seems to let exercise and diet fall by the wayside right now, it’s important to maintain healthy habits.

Exercise gives you endorphins and energy. It also reduces stress hormones — something we can all get behind! Take walks, jog, do yoga, Zumba, or just dance around the house—whatever moves you.

We’re going to sound like your parents here and say: eat a nutritious diet, drink plenty of water, and be sure to get a good night’s sleep. While poor sleep habits can increase stress levels, getting quality sleep makes it easier to tackle the next day’s challenges. So get to bed, kiddo.

Practice

One of the most stressful parts of the job hunt is the interview. It’s kind of like a first date if first dates were somehow even more intimidating than normal. Luckily, preparation (and practice) prevents panic.

Make a list of questions or topics that might be covered during your interview, including commonly asked questions for the type of job you’re seeking. Jot down a few bullet points for each topic on your list and ask friends or family to “interview” you to practice.

Don’t go overboard and memorize your answers. You don’t want to sound stiff or unnatural. The idea is to keep a few key points in mind and take a practice run or two to calm your nerves. Remember to have questions of your own to ask about the culture, interviewer’s experience, and (possibly) pay. With all this prep work done ahead of time, you’ll feel a lot less stressed.

Quit Taking It Personally 

It’s easier said than done, but you can’t take the job search personally. Unfortunately, rejection is part of the process. Even J.K. Rowling was rejected. Michael Jordan too. And Albert Einstein, Lady Gaga, Steve Jobs — you get the idea. If you experience rejection during your job hunt, you’re in great company.

Dwelling on what went wrong, why the interviewer didn’t “like” you, or why you felt it was going right when it was going all wrong won’t get you anywhere. It’ll only stress you out. Expect and accept that rejection happens, and it’s OK. Every “no” is bringing you one step closer to a “yes” from your dream job. It can suck but it’ll all make sense in the end.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

On a similar note, don’t beat yourself up as the job hunt continues. It’s normal to wonder whether anyone will find your resume impressive or if you’re really that hireable in the first place. But negative self-talk makes you anxious, damages your self-esteem, and certainly doesn’t help you land a job. If you want to change your stress level, change your thoughts.

Focus on your best qualities. If you need a reminder, write positive mantras on Post-It notes and stick them to your bathroom mirror. Think about other challenges you’ve been through and how you overcame them.

And remember that as these companies are vetting you, you’re also vetting them. Think of interviews as a conversation to determine whether you and the company are a good fit for one another. Sometimes the answer is no, but that doesn’t make you any less of a rockstar.

Relax and Recharge

Make a conscious effort to relax and enjoy yourself. Listen to your favorite music, cuddle with your dog, read a book, paint, or write. Meditate for a few minutes when you wake up in the morning. Schedule time for relaxation the same way you schedule important tasks—relaxation is important too! If you need to, limit your job search to weekdays and dedicate your weekends to recharging. Self-care looks good on you.

Seek Support

Sometimes when you feel overwhelmed, all you need is a friendly face or a familiar voice. Don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted friends or family for support. Bottling up your emotions and fears will multiply your stress, so talk it out. The people who love you will remind you that no matter how your job hunt is going, you’re cared for and valued. Remembering that one simple fact can turn your whole day around.

It’s normal to feel stressed during a job search. If you’re looking for a job and not stressed, you might just be a robot. But too much stress is unhealthy and unhelpful. Armed with these strategies, you’ll be able to minimize your stress and maximize your job-hunting superpowers.


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  • Date
    March 16, 2020
  • Posted In
    Career Insight
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