Manage the inevitable burnout of job searching

How to Deal with Job Search Burnout

Job Search Burnout? It’s definitely a thing. While the “September Surge” in both job postings and the promise of hiring has us all scrambling to apply, it can take a toll on our mental health. Just as we can get burned out while working a traditional job, we might not realize that job hunting, applying, and interviewing are labor, too. The entire process is hard work! And you're doing it without getting paid. So we thought it would be helpful to look at what you can do to help ward off job search burnout. Whether you’re feeling the burnout creep up or you’re feeling the after-effects already, these helpful tips are for everyone:

1. Give yourself a break

Probably the most important tip of all, yet the one we’re most reluctant to give into, taking a break is absolutely essential to everyone who is on the hunt for a job. Taking breaks should be unique to you and your body. Some will treat the job search as a 9-to-5 weekday endeavor while others will only limit their job search to mornings or weekends.

Regardless of how you decide to break it up, you need to be disciplined in giving yourself breaks. If you do decide to put in up to 40 hours a week searching, applying, and networking, you will need more frequent breaks throughout the day. Set timers for yourself and go outside for fresh air to clear your head. Taking breaks will also ensure that you feel refreshed and able to present your best self in your cover letters and application answers.

Pro tip? Take breaks that are both short and a little longer. The best breaks leave us feeling inspired and ready to tackle the challenges again. So, we recommend once a week doing something that feeds your creative side. Like pottery, painting, or knitting. Even better? Invite your friends over so you can vent through your job search challenges while you draw together. But no matter what you choose to do, taking breaks is mandatory for staving off burnout, no matter the task—so don’t skip them! 

2. Take it easy on the to-dos

If you’re taking on more work outside of job searching, maybe it’s time to declutter your calendar and tone down the unnecessary tasks. For example, you don’t need to do the laundry, and grocery shopping, and mopping all in one day. Tasks like these are physically and mentally demanding, leaving you with less capacity to do any other type of work. Instead, scatter your chores and errands throughout the week to break up your screen time. Better still, ask a friend or partner for help. Maybe say ‘no’ to performing random tasks for others while you’re job searching. Or if you’re a person who just has to be busy, give yourself easy treats disguised as tasks, like walking to a local garden, grabbing your favorite drink at a cafe, or taking a day to wander through a museum. See also: take a break!

3. Be discerning in where you apply

It’s so important to begin any search by refining what you really want in a job. If the application has you jumping through many unnecessary hoops, the questions make you cringe, or you get a bad vibe from everything you read about the company, don’t waste your time (and theirs) by applying. Instead stave off panic, mindless, or rage applying by remembering that new jobs are posted everywhere every day. If your dream gig is not up on a job board today, stick with the search toward a meaningful, and fulfilling job you actually want. You’ll be applying to fewer places, sure. But you’ll notice that it’s easier to keep on top of the applications that are meaningful to you. Instead of feeling burned out, you’ll be so excited about the position and able to better focus on the hiring process. Meanwhile, they’ll take notice of your enthusiasm and keep you top of mind.

4. Prioritize Networking

Like it or not, most people who are successful in getting a new job do it through networking. Think about it: if you have your dream job in mind, wouldn’t you want to meet with other professionals in the field and talk about what it takes to reach your goals? Also, doesn’t that sound like more fun than typing your skills out for the millionth time? Even if you are an introvert who tends to hide behind a computer, there are ways to network that don’t feel as overwhelming as approaching people at big events.

For one, you can start by professionally connecting with a specific recruiter and building a strong relationship (and then connect with a few more - each recruiter is likely working with different companies). If you’re feeling bolder, slide into someone’s DMs with an offer to buy them a coffee in exchange for advice. Reconnect with old coworkers and ask about their experiences. Meet up with people whose jobs interest you and propose a mutually beneficial collaboration. We are social beings. You’re more likely to find that making connections by showing off your personality and expertise will land you a gig sooner than remaining just another name on an application.

5. Remember what you can control—and what you can’t

Sometimes, if we don’t hear back from one of the jobs we apply to, it can push us into downward spirals, past burnout, and into wallowing mode. In these times it’s helpful to gain back perspective: their silence, ghosting, or rejection is out of our control, even though it hurts. Really try not to take the silence or rejection personally. Taking everything personally is a surefire way toward added stress, anxiety, and future mental health issues.

What you can control, instead, is how you move on and away from this experience. Be gentle with yourself. Take breaks, take a breath, and focus on something else for a while. This is a great time to do something mindful and soothing, like drawing, meditating, or low-impact yoga, to bring you back to your center. Talk things out with your therapist if needed. Distractions are powerful. Then, after you gain a little distance and clarity, you can begin the search again from a more appealing place.

Final Pro Tip:

Don't send a rage email. Just don't do it. That message may feel great, but it only closes doors for you in the future. If you really need to, write down that anger - really get it all out. Then delete it. We promise you, no one has ever gotten hired by throwing an angry message at a hiring manager or a recruiter. 

If you’re looking for a job, we have several open positions with great companies that are looking for top-tier talent like you. 

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