With any process of change, a little stress is normal. That’s especially true of the job search, where you are constantly putting yourself out there for evaluation, organizing a lot of moving parts and waiting, waiting and waiting some more.
From the day you start networking to the day you sign the offer, the typical job seeker can wing from emotional highs (I got the interview!) to lows (No one is getting back to me!). Left unchecked, those stresses can spiral out of control, wreaking havoc on your mindset, confidence and ability to make a winning impression on potential employers.
Here’s how to take control and manage the natural stressors of the search before they start managing you.
One of the most effective ways to begin to get stress under control is also the simplest: get clear on the cause. The vulnerability of putting yourself out there, worries over how long the search will take and fears over finding the right fit can all be typical stress triggers. So can concerns about your resume and marketability, and interview jitters. Once you know the source, you can start taking steps to address the problem. Is this a practical stress that you can solve with action (modernizing your resume, interview practice), or do you need to work on your inner game (negative self-talk, confidence)?
Taking the time to craft a clear job search strategy and plan— versus winging it and then stressing about what you should be doing— can help you manage overwhelm and stay organized. Again, clarity is your friend here. You can always adjust course if needed but start with a strong plan. Spend the time to define the type of position, workplace and culture that you’re seeking, identify target companies/company types and locations, and determine the resources and networks you already have and what you will need. Schedule search activities onto your calendar so that you know not just how you will market yourself, but when. Work the plan you’ve created.
Although it can seem like your job search is the most important thing in your world, in fact, it’s just one important piece of a much larger puzzle. The larger your quest for the next job looms in your life, the more overwhelm and unnecessary stress that you may be putting on yourself. Take time out to enjoy life and perform your current job well (if you’re employed). Dedicate time to your search when you can be fresh and focused. Balance any negative or critical voices that come up with affirmative, positive reminders of your skillset, strengths and your plan to create what you want. Remind yourself, you are evaluating employers as much as they are evaluating you.
In other words, practice good self-care. Research—and for many of us, experience— shows that managing the basic pillars of well-being (sleep, nutrition, exercise and relaxation) helps you to function at your best and ward off the physical effects of stress. Don’t let this slip in favor of an all-encompassing job search. Putting your well-being first means you will be better able to identify and respond to opportunities and present yourself at your best during interviews and negotiations.
Leverage your natural strengths by prioritizing activities that you enjoy. Creative ways to do this include creating social media search posts, infographics or a web site that communicate your personal brand. If you’re a designer, craft marketing materials that show off your style and skill. If you’re an extrovert, network like it’s your job. Focus on job descriptions that reflect your strengths and spread the word about what you’re looking to do. The more you focus on having fun and allowing your search to incorporate the best of you, the better experience it will be.
While the job search process can feel isolating, you do not have to go it alone. In fact, the more people you involve the better. Ask trusted colleagues, friends, a coach or a recruiter to review your resume, LinkedIn profile or marketing materials. If it’s been a while since your last search or you’ve been recruited into previous positions, you may to dust off your networking skills or hire a coach to help with strategy. You might need to practice interviewing, brush up on an important skillset or lean on friends for emotional support. Be honest about what might impact your results and seek out the support that you need.
Your job search doesn’t need to stress you out. Keep it in perspective with the above tips and embrace the opportunity to explore and identify what’s next for your career.
Thinking of hiring a career coach to help you find your dream job? Connect with Sally, browse our directory of career coaches and get a FREE consultation or request a personalized coach recommendation!
Sally Anne Carroll is a life/career coach for professionals and entrepreneurs who want to re-tool their work, define success on their own terms and design healthy, balanced lifestyles that match their strengths and priorities. She’s a freedom-focused advocate for helping clients reimagine, redefine and reinvent the status quo to achieve their personal vision of success and fulfillment. Sally splits her time between Portland, Oregon, and Christchurch, New Zealand. Visit her website to learn more and connect.