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How to deal with job search stress

Published: Wednesday 7th April 2021

April is Stress Awareness Month, devoted to raising public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. This year is a particularly important time as we’ve passed the one-year anniversary of living with the pandemic. Especially for job seekers there’s never been a more stressful time, having to tackle job search stress, an uncertain future, insecurity, and constant change brought on by the pandemic. 

More people out of work means this is a particularly challenging time for candidates looking for their next step in their career. That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips to relieve stress during your job hunting and help you stay on track.

April is stress awareness month. Job search stress and anxiety

Job search stress and anxiety

Job hunting is an intense process that can seriously affect your mood. For many people, their career is closely linked to their personal identity. That’s why it’s common to feel like searching for a piece of yourself while job hunting. And until that’s resolved, you can feel unsettled and incomplete. 

Looking for a new job is a constant lesson in dealing with rejection. No matter how many people tell you not to take it personally, rejection is difficult to handle and can take a major toll on your motivation to move forward with your job hunt. You can’t help but think of the competition or wonder what’s preventing you from getting hired.

It’s normal to feel additional stress and anxiety when undergoing such a huge change in your life, like when looking for a new job. But it’s also a cycle that you need to break in order to perform to the best of your ability and keep a clear mind when making decisions. The good news is there are proven ways to better manage your mood and your job search anxiety, so you can rock your interviews and land a new role that you’ll grow and thrive in! 

Know the triggers for job search stress and anxiety

Some of the most common reasons for job search stress and anxiety include feeling overwhelmed, worrying about future uncertainty, or concerned about the competition and not getting hired. Feelings of being overwhelmed mentally and emotionally, usually stem from how big a project it seems to land a new job and get accustomed to a new routine all over again. Moreover, uncertainty is often related to thoughts about how long the job search process will take, how big the competition is, and stress over job interviews. 

Once you know what triggers stress, then you can tackle and overcome it using the appropriate strategy. So, to conduct an effective job search, break the overall project into small, manageable tasks. Each one completed will bring you closer to the job offer and the goal completion that you seek 

Shift the focus away from random outcomes and put emphasis on the bigger picture. Instead of dwelling on one job rejection, put the emphasis on parts of the job hunting process that you can control. Set these as the specific actions you need to take and celebrate small wins. Two of the best actions you can focus on are meeting new people and developing your professional skills.

Plan ahead and get organised

Your search will be less stressful if you organise it and treat it like a job. If you’re out of work, consider it your full-time job to land a new role. Putting a plan in place and remaining organised will really make the difference. So, keep track of your applications, stay on top of your networking outreach, as well as the career events you’re interested in attending.

Having a plan in place and sticking to a routine will help minimise the anxiety because you’ll be keeping track of what you’ve done and what you need to do next. Having a routine can be particularly helpful in times of unpredictability, uncertainty, and stress, exactly like the job hunting process. Implementing a structure to your day can give you a sense of control. It can also improve your focus, organisation, and productivity.

woman reading message about job application progress, or work issues, job hunting stress, anxiety.

Prepare and practise 

The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be during an interview. Knowing what type of position you’re seeking, and being able to articulate why you’re qualified for the role, will help you ace the job interview and impress hiring managers. Create an elevator pitch that describes who you are and what you have to offer. Practice saying it in front of a family member. The more comfortable you are talking about yourself, the more confident you’ll feel during the interview.

If you see an interesting job, apply for it. It’s good practice, and it may be a better opportunity than you expected. You’ll be less anxious if you’re going after a role that isn’t your dream job, and you’ll be more prepared when that perfect position comes along. On Zoek you can set up job alerts and job matches to get them straight in your inbox and filter any relevant opportunities as soon as they become available to apply directly.  

Go for company and culture fit

Remember that your job search isn’t just about the company hiring you. It’s also about whether the employer is the best fit for your next career step and whether their culture and work ethic align with yours. That’s as important for you as it is for the company. If you feel like it’s not the right job for you, you can politely decline. But when you do find a job that’s a good fit, the process can be more exciting than stressful! 

Zoek’s Managing Director, Diana Campbell, has spoken out about well-being seen as a priority for candidates in the current market. According to recent research conducted by Zoek, employer reputation has become really important and only 4% of job seekers surveyed would work for employers that treated their employees badly during the pandemic. 

Stay active

Finally, keeping busy with activities you enjoy is one of the best remedies for stress and anxiety. Use any downtime to meet up with a friend for lunch or drinks and get regular exercise. The release of endorphins will help keep your emotions in check, and the activity will help you get enough sleep, which is crucial to reducing stress and anxiety.

To take your next step in your career, visit Zoek and start applying for jobs across all sectors to land your next big career opportunity. 

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