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Overcoming Job Search Burnout: Tips and Strategies for Staying Motivated

When I finally quit my job, I felt like I could breath again. I had forgotten how fun life could be without this time suck that would drain me of all my energy that a 2 day weekend couldn’t counteract.

I was happy until I had to find a job again.

Turns out looking for a job is the WORST job.

I know I’m not alone in this. I had a friend look for work for a year straight and it seemed like no matter what she was doing; it was never enough.

Now that I’ve been on LinkedIn more regularly, I’m also seeing all the human stories affected by the layoffs and now instability in the banks.

Job searching can be an exciting opportunity to explore alternative career paths and find fulfilling employment. However, it can also be a long and challenging process that can take a toll on your mental health. From endless job applications to competing with other candidates, the search for a new job can feel overwhelming and stressful.

But it's important to prioritize your well-being during the job search process. By taking steps to prevent burnout and manage stress, you can maintain your mental health and increase your chances of success in finding the right job for you.

In this article, we'll explore strategies for preventing burnout while job hunting, including setting finite goals, balancing your tasks, taking effective breaks, and utilizing networking and professional development opportunities. We'll also address common questions and concerns related to job search burnout, such as why job searching is so stressful, how to overcome job search struggles, and whether it's okay to take a break from job hunting.

Understanding Job Search Burnout

Job search burnout can be defined as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that results from prolonged and excessive stress related to job searching. Prolonged bouts of burnout can lead to a range of negative outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and decreased job search effectiveness.

Some signs and symptoms of job search burnout include:

  • Feeling constantly overwhelmed or hopeless

  • Losing motivation and interest in your job search

  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and sleep disturbances

  • Feeling irritable or easily frustrated

  • Avoiding job search activities altogether

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, take action.

Try out these and other strategies for a period and if it doesn’t get better or it gets worse, seek a mental health professional.

I’ve reached out to a therapist to talk through my own anxieties that have been triggered by all the layoffs.

Why Job Searching Is So Stressful?

If you are reading this, you probably don't need me to explain it but if you want to send it over to someone who doesn't understand, it will save your the explanation.

Job searching can be a challenging and stressful process due to a variety of factors. Some common stressors associated with job searching include:

  • Competition with other candidates: The job market can be highly competitive, with many qualified candidates vying for the same positions.

  • Rejection: It's common to experience rejection during the job search process, whether it's from not getting an interview or being passed over for a job offer.

  • Ghosting: It’s not just in the dating world. Whether it is the lack of feedback from rejections or recruiters not responding, it can be disheartening to know if your words are even being read by a human on the other side.

  • Uncertainty: Not knowing when or if you'll find a job can be anxiety-provoking and stressful.

  • Financial pressure: The need to earn a living can add additional stress to the job search process, particularly if you're unemployed or underemployed.

The emotional impact of job searching can also be significant. In addition to the stressors outlined above, job searching can trigger feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, and depression. It's important to recognize the emotional impact of job searching and prioritize your mental health as you navigate the process. The following strategies can help you manage job search stress and prevent burnout.

Strategies for Avoiding Burnout

To avoid burnout while job searching, you need to implement strategies that promote balance, progress, and connection. Here are my tips to help you manage your job search and prevent burnout:

1. Set finite goals and track your progress

Instead of focusing on finding a job as quickly as possible, set achievable goals for each week or month of your job search. Celebrate your progress and acknowledge your accomplishments along the way. This will help you stay motivated and avoid feeling overwhelmed by the larger task at hand.

Finite goal may look like:

  • Reach out to 5 recruiters everyday of the week

  • Find 10 companies you’d be interested in on Monday

  • Come up with 5 questions about the company you would like to know but can’t find on Tuesday.

  • Reach out to 2 employees from each company to start a conversation on Wednesday.

  • Write 3 resumes on Thursday.

Just like in the workplace, when you are working on a project, you should have a to-do list that is actionable.

Sure you could reach out to 100 recruiters in a day but most likely, you’ll hate it and if you don’t reach your goal, you’ll feel bad.

Job searching is a long-term game, so don’t use all your energy on day 1.

2. Customize your resume and develop an efficient job application process:

Applying for jobs can be time-consuming and draining, but it's important to make your application process as efficient as possible. Develop systems for customizing your resume and cover letter, and use job search platforms that allow you to save job searches and automate your application process. This will help you streamline your job search and avoid getting bogged down by the administrative tasks associated with applying for jobs.

Those 3 resumes you wrote on Thursday, don’t just throw them away after!

If you are customising your resume to different roles, save those bullet points in each copy.

I like to have a ‘Master Copy’ that is much too long but includes every bullet point I ever wrote for the work experience I’ve had. Your points should be different if you are applying for a junior role vs a senior, a customer facing vs only working internally, a more team heavy role vs an IC role.

Instead of rewriting it each time, you can copy paste from your master copy so it can be customized but not from scratch each time.

3. Balance your tasks and take breaks

Job searching can be a full-time job in and of itself, but it's important to balance your tasks and avoid spending all day in front of the computer. Take breaks to stretch, exercise, or engage in other activities that help you relax and recharge. This will help you maintain your energy and focus throughout the job search process.

Take to your friends or peers who are doing the same thing. Talk to people who are NOT doing the same thing so your world is a little bigger. Your brain needs a break, even if it is important for you to find work again.

4. Get creative

Job hunting does not mean you have to sit in front of a computer all day and research online. Get creative and think outside of the box. I get drained from reading posts, job descriptions and writing resumes all day.

Schedule in networking events in your area. You never know who you may meet and who they may know. If nothing else, you can learn more about whats possible out there.

If you are a designer, start a personal project and document your progress online. You’ll generate interest from your posts and if you do it well, it could lead to opportunities. This applies to engineers, artists, accountants, etc whatever your skills are.

If there aren’t events, start one online or offline. Make the things you would find helpful and others will as well. You will become a leader in your community and isn’t that a great experience to bring up in your next interview?

Keeping Motivated

Even with all the above strategies, you will still have day where you feel out of it. That’s normal! Here is some thing to do about it:

  1. Take a break: Again this is a long-term search. Take a day off guilt free. I give you permission.

  2. Talk to a friend: When you aren’t feeling good, it’s normal to want to suppress and hide from it. Instead, call up a friend and talk about how ashamed you feel or how unmotivated you are today. Once you name it, share it, and take it head on, it won’t have the same power over you.

  3. Mindset: You don’t have to be positive all the time, but remember, negative experiences affect you 4-5 times more than a positive one. So if you are feeling bad about not getting a response, know that your brain is probably making it out to be worse than you thought as a means to protect you. Remind yourself of all the wins from the small accomplishments or the good feedback you’ve gotten.

  4. Do the basics: Get your sleep, diet, hydration levels and exercise in check. If you can’t do it now, you won’t do it when you have a job and are trying to learn what the heck this company is doing.

Remember, job searching can be a long and challenging process, but with the right mindset and support, you can stay motivated and find the career opportunity that's right for you.

End Game

Don't let the job search overwhelm you! Take a deep breath, stay organized, and remember that you're not alone in this journey. And if you want an extra hand to help you with writing resumes, interview prep, project documentation, or just staying accountable to your goals, I'm here to offer my services as a coach. My approach is all about being on your team and providing the support you need to keep moving forward. So don't hesitate to reach out and let's work together towards your dream job!


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