Strategies to alleviate job-hunting stress
Job stress is enough — but job-hunting stress? That alone can be intimidating and emotionally taxing to your psyche, especially if you’ve graduated or been laid off and months later, you still don’t have any prospects of securing a job. It doesn’t help when financial and family pressures intensify as weeks pass without any viable interviews. No wonder job-seekers often feel panicked, frustrated, embarrassed and rejected, all of which could possibly send them into a tailspin if they don’t have a plan or know how to deal with this overwhelming experience. I have some suggestions that will help you overcome emotional roadblocks so you can successfully find a job – without losing your mind.
- Create structure.
Set time aside to search and follow through with previous connections. Keep up to date on any job postings through helpful applications, like Glassdoor Job Search, which will send you an email notification, and LinkedIn, where you can look up an interviewer’s profile. Set your watch to chime for a break if you tend to lose track of time. Staying on task helps most people feel organized and productive.
- Know your emotional triggers.
When you get a rejection letter – or nothing at all – fear of the unknown, paired with lack of feedback, can be one of the worst feelings of the job hunt. Take the time to identify situations that intensify your emotions, and then create emotional buffers to alleviate stress. For example, ask the interviewers when you can expect to hear back from them or how the process works on their end. This will decrease your anxiety about the unknown and give you valuable information.
- Pace yourself.
If you are feeling overly negative, then take a break. It is a sign of becoming overwhelmed, which only leads to emotional derailment. You can only do so much. Go take a walk or call a friend.
- Don’t give up.
Remember, you are doing the best you can, and you have a lot to offer. The number one frustration I hear from job seekers now is that this process is so impersonal. Back in the days of paper and pencil, employers actually saw and met those who filled out a job application, and everyone received immediate feedback. Now, you have to look stellar on paper to even be seen. But you can use the electronic age to your advantage by sending out a large number of resumes to prospective employers. Someone will notice and reward you with an opportunity.
- Focus energy on what you can control.
Athletes use visualization as a tool for success, so why not you? Imagine answering all the questions with confidence and the interview going very well. If you choose to not take rejection personally, then you will learn that good outcomes can be created from hardship. For example, when one of my friends felt the sting of rejection, he asked himself what he could control. He revised his cover letters to be more general and actually received more attention!
- Challenge your inner Cowardly Lion.
Another strategy to feel confident is to become a memorable candidate. After the interview, a courageous move on your part might be to politely thank interviewers for their time and inquire, “Is there any reason why you would not hire me?” This unique way to receive feedback might create a dynamic where you actually outshine competitors who are too timid to ask this insightful question. Knowing this answer will actually help you cope with your fear of the unknown. Be ready to hear the answer and use it as a learning tool for future interviews.
- Think outside the box.
Don’t be intimidated by the list of qualifications needed. Even if you don’t have the years of experience “required,” go ahead and submit your cover letter and resume anyway. One of my friends did just that, and the employer scheduled an interview with him.
- Get support.
If this process becomes overwhelming to the point where you lose sleep, feel overly exhausted or apathetic, then go see a therapist who can help you learn coping skills specific to your needs. You may be emotionally stuck, and a good psychotherapist will help you function at your best.
In short, stay positive. Anything is possible. When I was unsure about the future of my private practice, a local businessman gave me the best advice: “Be persistent, and you will find success.” He was right. Stay on task, and you will do very well.
Linda K. Castor, RN, LCPC is a psychotherapist at Linda K. Castor and Associates, 2663 Farragut Drive, Suite A in Springfield. Linda has taught health and wellness for 30 years and treats mental health issues in children, adolescents and adults. For more information, visit www.LindaCastor.com.