With the recent surge in layoffs, more people are finding themselves searching for new roles. With that comes an increase in job search anxiety. One reason is that the competition is stiff, given the number of qualified people looking for work. In addition, your industry can play a major role in how many relevant jobs are available. As a result, the job search can take longer than anticipated. In fact, new information from the Labor Department indicates that it’s taking unemployed workers longer to find new roles than it did a year ago. According to the 2022 data, 826,000 unemployed workers were out of work for 3 ½ to 6 months in December, up 36% from April.
Despite the current economic situation, there are healthy ways to deal with job search anxiety. Let’s examine the top 10:
1. Find support
One of the best ways to reduce job search anxiety is to find comfort in your support system. Whether it’s friends or family, surround yourself with people who are positive and value you for more than your job. Another idea is to look for job-hunting groups on LinkedIn, Facebook or Meetup. In addition, you may want to engage a career coach to support you. Finally, if depression or feelings of hopelessness start to interfere with your daily life, consider enlisting the help of a counselor or therapist.
2. Know where you stand financially
Another way to relieve job search anxiety is to get your finances in order immediately. Begin by reviewing your cash flow and net worth. Knowing where you stand will help you identify areas where you can cut back. It can also give you insight into how much runway you have before considering a different job search strategy.
3. Maintain a schedule
Job search anxiety also sets in because we’ve lost our sense of structure. To get that back, approach your search methodically. Set a work schedule that aligns with the goals you want to achieve each day. Then, create a daily checklist each morning (or the night before). Your routine may look something like this:
- Make a list of five to 10 positions to apply to
- Prepare resumes and cover letters for each position
- Dedicate at least two hours per day to networking
- Spend at least one hour per day developing a new skill
- Take regular breaks—especially if you can get outdoors
4. Focus your search
Often, job seekers comment that they’ve sent out hundreds of resumes with no results. The reason for this is usually that the job search is too broad. Instead, be strategic. Narrow your search just enough, so your resume and cover letter are targeted to the positions you are applying for. Being too generic will make it harder for recruiters to understand what type of role you are looking for. It can also make you seem unfocused, which is a red flag for potential employers.
5. Give yourself some slack
All too often, the job search takes longer than we anticipate. So, be good to yourself. Rather than beating yourself up about why you’re not making enough progress, focus on the positive. For example, if you score a networking call or get a response from a recruiter, celebrate the small wins. It’s also a good idea to create a mantra that you can repeat daily, like, “I will find a job—it’s just a matter of time,” or “I only need one job, and it’s out there!”
6. Set realistic goals
While your broad goal is to secure a job, you need to break that down into manageable chunks.
Some examples include:
- Send out 15 resumes a week
- Have five networking conversations a day
- Create a target list of 10-12 companies
It can also be helpful to find an accountability partner. That way, you have someone to help keep you motivated and share your goals with on an ongoing basis.
7. Learn new skills
Learning a new skill not only makes you more hireable, but it also helps to relieve job search anxiety. One reason is that it improves your self-confidence. Science also shows that you’ll make new neural connections that strengthen specific areas of your brain. In addition, learning new skills keeps you motivated and even boosts happiness.
8. Embrace the rejection
It can be difficult to remember that rejection is a good thing. It means you’re putting yourself out there. The key is reframing and looking at it as a learning experience. For example, if you find it hard to land interviews, ask yourself whether your resume could be improved. On the other hand, if you’re getting a lot of initial calls but not getting past the screening phase, you may need to work on your interview skills.
9. Know when to rest
It can be tempting to spend all day every day looking for jobs. Unfortunately, that only leads to increased job search anxiety and burnout. Instead, know when it’s time to take a break. Exercising, meditating or meeting a friend for coffee are all healthy ways to relieve the tension.
10. Remember you are more than your job
Your job is only a fraction of who you are. You have passions and talents that go way beyond working in a particular profession. A great way to boost your self-worth is to pursue interests and hobbies unrelated to your career. Think about the personality traits that make you unique and situations in which you feel like your authentic self. By developing yourself outside of work, you’ll realize that you’re more than just a job title.
These are uncertain times, and the job hunt can take longer than expected. But it’s important to remember that fear and panic will only interfere with your job search and psychological well-being. So instead, practice reframing your thinking. Ultimately, it will lead to securing your ideal job much faster.