There’s no point in sugarcoating it: searching for a job is stressful. Even if you’re still employed, the task of putting yourself out there, actively pursuing opportunities, risking rejection, and making such a life-altering change is going to generate stress. If you’re unemployed while looking for a job, the pressure can feel almost overwhelming.
Too much stress is harmful on many levels, from your physical and mental well-being, to your ability to perform well throughout the interview process. GetFive’s career coaches have seen our clients wrestle with every kind of job-search stress imaginable. Here are some of the most common types of stress when you’re looking for a job:
1. Income loss
Multiple studies over the past few years have confirmed that the majority of Americans—even those earning more than $75,000 a year—live paycheck to paycheck. Few have emergency funds sufficient to keep them afloat through a complete loss of income, and many have significant debt. The possibility of losing your job and the stress of having to worry about money are just two more excellent reasons why you must build an emergency savings fund as soon as possible. Do it now, if you’re still employed.
2. Emotional loss
For many Americans, their jobs are a significant aspect of how they define themselves. Losing your job can make you feel undervalued and worthless. Your fear of rejection may increase as you apply for job after job without success. You may also miss friends and colleagues with whom you’d built meaningful relationships.
3. The loss of a routine
Your job likely dictated your weekday schedule. The loss of that routine can leave you feeling at loose ends—and unmotivated.
4. The loss of respect and empathy
When you lose your job, you may be your own worst critic. But you may also have to face the knowledge that your unemployed status affects how family and friends view you. If your job search seems to take a long time, some loved ones may become impatient and lose empathy for your situation.
It’s important to take steps to relieve stress as much as possible. Here are some tactics that we’ve seen work for other job-hunters:
1. Keep things in perspective
When you tell people you’re “between jobs,” take it to heart. Believe that your next job is out there, even if you’ve just been turned down for one. Understand that it will take time to find the right job for you; according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in July 2015 the average duration of unemployment was 26.5 weeks.
2. Surround yourself with positive energy
Job loss can undermine your emotional stability, even if you were a man or woman of steel prior to losing your job. It’s important to manipulate your environment to protect your morale as much as possible. Avoid toxic people whose pessimism can drag you down. Don’t watch the news if it upsets you, especially employment news. Do things and choose entertainments that you find uplifting—go to your place of worship, take the kids to the park, see a comedy.
3. Get support and vent when you need to
A career coach will not only help you take steps to get another job more quickly, he or she can help you stay positive and keep everything in perspective while going through the process. Need to vent your frustration? Your spouse may get tired of hearing it, but your career coach will listen and then help you channel that energy into positive action.
4. Set yourself up for some short-term success…
… and celebrate when it happens! Instead of telling yourself daily “Today, I’m going to get a job,” set manageable, achievable goals. For example, decide that today you’ll write five targeted letters and identify 10 more companies you would like to work for. Tomorrow you’ll make six follow-up phone calls. Some of the activities will pay off, others won’t, but the mere act of accomplishing them can keep your spirits up and your job search moving forward.
5. Boost your mood with exercise
Job-hunting is a head game, but don’t forget the value of taking care of your body while you search for a new job. Avoid bad habits like smoking, drinking or eating junk food. When you’re feeling down, go for a walk instead of reaching for a comforting snack. If your routine prior to losing your job included daily exercise, keep doing it. If you weren’t into exercise before, use the extra time on your hands to establish a fitness routine.