5 Strategies for Managing Job Search Stress — It’s Easier Than It Seems

woman sitting down, his face unsettled.
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Looking for a job is nerve-racking at its best. In addition, the never-ending pandemic, dire world events and a bleak economic outlook have brought upon feelings of financial futility and personal despair for many when it comes to looking for work.

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According to the Labor Department, the U.S. unemployment rate declined to 3.6% in March from 3.8% in February, the lowest since February 2020 and below market expectations of 3.7%. People are quitting their jobs in droves. In February alone, 4.4 million people quit despite reports of employers’ struggles to find and hire new workers.

Whether you call it anxiety, fatigue, despair, burnout, or depression, the stress that comes with looking for a new job can be debilitating. The pressure to find a “dream job” — or ruminating that one doesn’t exist — can be overwhelming, and the length and process involved looking for it can be downright disheartening.

With “the great resignation” dominating the news, it seems like a good time to talk about how to deal with the stress that goes with looking for a new job and what can be done to alleviate it. There is a whole industry providing tips on how to cope with job search stress, and we’ve whittled down the many suggestions out there into five solid strategies for dealing with the anxiety caused by looking for a job.

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1. Create a Career Plan

Try to take action against negative thoughts by searching for positions and company cultures that are in line with your skills and personality. The end goal is to get a job, but instead of flooding the marketplace with a generic resume, now is a great time to narrow your focus and revisit your career goals to make sure you are on the right career path.

2. Be Organized

External chaos begets internal chaos. Take the time to fine tune your resume by making it clear, direct, and weeding out anything that doesn’t fit with your job goals or intent. If you find you aren’t getting as many callbacks for interviews, keep practicing answers to questions you may be asked so you’re better prepared when interview time comes. Doing your homework and staying organized will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by the process.

3. Stay Positive

The average job search can last three to six months. It is easy to get discouraged if the process is taking longer than you expected. Time will feel ten times longer if you let it get to you. Try to stay positive during what might be a prolonged job hunt. Maintaining your perspective, planning for rejection, giving yourself pep talks and savoring good things by rewarding yourself along the way will help to keep you in the right frame of mind.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

4. Take a Breather

Any career coach or self-care expert worth their salt preaches taking breaks from the daily grind. Spending too much time inside your own head can be a dangerous place, so be sure to do things that fill you with joy periodically. The time spent away from searching for work can be as important as the job search itself. Getting outside, eating and sleeping right, socializing and exercising during this demanding time will work wonders for your energy and attitude.

5. Ask for Help

Searching for a job can be an exhausting commitment. You shouldn’t have to do it alone. Talking to someone gives you essential emotional support and bolsters your hidden confidence. But it’s up to you to reach out. If you don’t have a strong support system available, think about looking to the growing career coaching industry for help. These pros can not only help with the nuts and bolts of resumes and interview processes, but can be a sounding board helping you cope with your doubts and ultimately guiding you toward what you want out of your job life.

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Like most things in life, your job hunt is about progress, not perfection. If you can manage the anxieties that come with it, you’ll ultimately be a better work candidate and person for the effort.

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
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