Handling Stress During a Job Search

TSP • @myTSPnet


The skill shortages we see covered in the media are real. To some extent, this makes today’s search environment a sellers’ market. But that’s at the overall level. For any job, there’s usually going to be competition. Or there may not be a perfect match, at least on the surface, between your dream job and your specific set of qualifications. Some opportunities may fall through. That means there is going to be stress in the job search process. 82% of job seekers described their search experience as stressful.

There’s also a big difference between searching while still employed, compared to a search after restructuring, or even hunting for your first job. But there are ways to manage that job search stress and transform it into positive energy.

The reality of a job search is that, after an initial burst of activity, there are going to be pockets of downtime. You should maintain a good cadence of research and outreach, and a consistent schedule each day, but there is inevitably time spent waiting on responses.

Keep your energy up by engaging in other activities like volunteering, a side business, or personal interests. Most people can’t keep grinding on just job hunt activities for 40 hours a week and still keep a positive mindset. Vary your activities and come back refreshed.

It’s one thing to pursue a job opportunity and then receive a no thanks at a given point in the process. What’s much more common is simply no response. Even at a second or third step in the process, it’s not uncommon to be ghosted. Much of the recruiting process is now automated and AI-driven, so there may not have been a human being behind the decision at all, especially in the initial sorting of candidates. Or recruiting teams are simply overwhelmed and can’t take the time to respond to candidates that were not selected to go to the next step. It’s not personal.

If there is a point of contact, it’s always good to follow up after a long period with no response, in case there was an error, or your show of interest could move the needle after all. But part of the job search is learning to accept non-responsiveness and keep moving.

There’s no doubt that personal connections are a strong advantage in any job search. Someone already in place at an organization who knows and trusts you and can make an introduction, or act as a reference, can potentially make a big difference. Naturally, most job search advice emphasizes the importance of working your network of industry and personal contacts. It can be a good way to stand out in an increasingly automated recruiting environment.

However, it’s possible to overwork your network of contacts. You don’t want to damage a relationship by coming on too strong or repetitively. Be respectful of your contacts’ time. Additionally, remember to stay in touch with business or personal contacts just to share ideas and further build the relationship. Not every outreach needs to be transactional. Sharing your current thoughts and even your setbacks with an empathetic person will improve your mood and lower stress.

It’s a good idea to set near-term, achievable goals that are relatively controllable. For example, create a list of target companies based on characteristics like industry and location. Or create at least one new industry contact on LinkedIn per week. These goals are measurable and create positive motion toward your overall goal of landing a great job in the field where you want to develop your career.