Whether the COVID-19 pandemic forced you to look for a new job or you’re being proactive in seeking new employment opportunities, it can be easy to get frustrated and burned out by your job search.
Even in “normal” times, job searching isn’t easy. So, how do you distinguish typical stress from job burnout stress? And, more importantly, what can you do about it?
How Long Is a Typical Job Search?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people were unemployed an average of five months in January 2020. That average length of unemployment is about the same for the previous four months, too. But, of course, there are job seekers who are unemployed for less time and job seekers who are unemployed for longer.
Signs of Job Search Burnout
Identifying that you are burned out isn’t always easy. Is it the stress of looking for a job that’s causing the problems? Are you balancing your current job while trying to find a new one? Or, are you unemployed? It could be a variety of factors. Whatever is causing your job search burnout, it’s important to identify that you’re burned out, so you take the appropriate steps to successfully move forward.
Signs of job search burnout include:
- Feeling overwhelmed or stressed by simple tasks. The thought of sending out another resume is overwhelming.
- Poor health. This can be physical health or mental health, but poor health can be a sign of job search burnout. Maybe you aren’t sleeping well, or you’re getting sick more often. Or, you find yourself in a constant state of anxiety, worried about everyone and everything.
- Irritable and frustrated. Are you irritated about other parts of your life besides your job search? Are you upset over little things that never used to bother you? These can be signs of increased stress levels and burnout.
- Lack of social interaction. Are you avoiding social interaction because it’s too draining? A lack of social support or avoiding social gatherings can add to your stress.
How to Combat Job Search Burnout
Once you’ve identified that you’re suffering from burnout, you can take some steps to combat it.
It’s not healthy to spend the entire day job searching. Spend a concentrated couple of hours sending applications, searching online, connecting with people, and then wrap it up.
After a couple of hours, there are severely diminishing returns for your job search—your applications won’t be as sharp, your mood will get worse, and you just won’t be as productive as those first couple of hours. And, you don’t want to miss out on quality opportunities by cutting corners like not updating your resume to align with the specific job or not including a cover letter.
Reassess Your Strategy
If you’ve been at this for months and it’s not yielding any results, it’s time for a self check-in. Re-evaluate your search parameters—perhaps they are not specific enough. If you only know you want to work in a specific industry, then hone in on that. Or, if you want a specific type of work flexibility, like a permanent work from home job, focus on positions that match your specification (while being realistic).
Take a look at your cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile. Do they need some polishing? Maybe you need to network online to boost your web presence. Or, consider hiring a career coach who can offer a different perspective on your job search.
Now might also be the time to create a defined job search plan so that you have goals and milestones to help keep you on track.
Brie Reynolds, Career Coach and Development Manager at FlexJobs, advises job seekers to incorporate networking into a job search. But, that doesn’t mean you have to go to traditional, in-person networking events.
“Network the way that works best for you,” Reynolds says. “For some people, that’s sending messages on LinkedIn just to say hello to old contacts. For others, that’s joining a local volunteer group. It might even be organizing a casual virtual happy hour with friends and asking people to invite someone new.”
Find whatever networking style works for you, and then work it! If nothing else, networking can help break up the monotony of staring at your screen all day and bring some excitement to your job search. It could also allow you to learn from others and get tips that are specific to the field that you’re targeting.
Get Some Information
In an informational interview, you’re gathering information about a career or industry to answer your questions about it and probably bring up new ones. And, Reynolds adds, information interviewing “is a super productive way to avoid job search burnout. It takes the pressure off you to create perfect applications.”
The knowledge you gain can help you make informed decisions about your education, career, or job search, and you’re extending your professional network. Plus, you’re interacting with like-minded professionals, which can be an instant mood booster.
Find Your Tribe
“Find community with people who are also job seeking,” says Reynolds. “They can act as an accountability group, keep you going even when you don’t feel like it, share in your successes and stumbles, and provide a sounding board for job search ideas.”
If you’re a FlexJobs member, you can tune into the FlexJobs weekly Q&A, where job seekers can ask our career coaches questions and interact with other job seekers in the online chat. “It helps us all know we’re in this together, even if we’re remote,” Reynolds says.
Let Go of Negativity
A great way to have a positive job search is to make an effort to ditch negativity and self-doubt. Simply turning your thought pattern around can put you on a direct path toward reaching goals that are significant to you in your career and your personal life.
Take a Break
The lack of instant gratification while searching for employment opportunities can lead to job search burnout. It’s hard to keep your spirits up when it can take longer than expected to hear from employers.
When you’re experiencing the signs of job search burnout, it’s OK to take a break for a while. Or, if you’re uncomfortable with that, dial your job search back to two or three times a week instead of every day.
Use that break to focus on something other than job searching. For example, do things that could help you professionally. Volunteer somewhere to keep your current skills from getting stale or consider taking a class to learn new skills to add to your resume.
But, you’ll want to have balance in your life, as well. Continue to do the things that contribute to a healthy lifestyle, such as exercising, hobbies, etc. You may find that it helps reduce your stress and gives you more pep the days you do search.
Beating Job Search Burnout
The job search is a process that takes time. But if you spend too much time on it, you may find it counterproductive.
If you want personalized advice, consider meeting with one of our career coaches. Our coaches work one-on-one with FlexJobs members to answer questions, offer guidance, and help you lead a successful job search!
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