by Sharon Florentine

12 Ways to Avoid Job Search Burnout

Feb 26, 20156 mins
CareersIT Jobs

Searching for a job takes an emotional toll on candidates, regardless of their experience level or how long they've been on the hunt. Here are expert tips for how rookies and seasoned job-seekers alike can avoid burning out during the job seeking process.

Avoid Job Search Burnout

The emotional toll of a job search can be disheartening, even for the most seasoned professional. From being out of work longer than anticipated to being rejected for a position to not getting called back for interviews, searching for a job can seem like an endless gauntlet of rejection.

“As a recruiter, I see the emotional toll a job search can take on candidates — rookies and seasoned job seekers alike. It can be tough to keep your spirits up. Fading confidence, a down mood or a crushed spirit can negatively affect how recruiters and potential employers perceive you,” says Sarah Connors, principal staffing manager, Human Resources Contract Staffing for executive search and consulting firm WinterWyman. But there are steps you can take as a job seeker to stay strong, focused and positive during a job search, she says.

1. Ask for Feedback

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If you’ve been on the hunt for a while without much progress, step back.

Talk to professionals with whom you have a strong and trusting relationship, like a former boss or your recruiter, who truly “gets” you.

“Ask for and be ready to hear specific, constructive feedback and request a mock interview. Are there things you could be doing differently? Questions you could be answering better? A follow-up that could be stronger? Their feedback could mean all the difference, and the positive comments they will share are a nice boost to your confidence,” says Connors.

2. Use ‘Insider’ Information

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Source your network to learn more about the industry you’re interested in and any changes or trends your “trusted insiders” are seeing. General market advice and hearing what they are experiencing on the front lines could be just the spark you need to shift your approach and pick up some momentum.

“Whatever your reason for connecting, by the end of the call, meeting or social media interaction, there’s a good chance you will feel more relaxed, have more confidence and be more inspired to ramp up your search,” says Connors.

3. Change Your Approach

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Have you been interviewing a lot without much progress? It might be time to change it up. Are you coming across as bored with the process? Do your answers sound rote? Did you not notice your interview outfit is rumpled or stained? Prepare for your next interview with these potential pitfalls in mind.

“Take out your iron and stain stick, come up with fresh, new answers, add energy and enthusiasm to your voice, use real-life examples any time you can and be mindful of your body language. These small tweaks will help you feel more excited and engaged and you’ll come across as more polished and professional,” says Connors.

4. Play Matchmaker

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Before sending your resume to apply for a position or interviewing for a role, see where your background and experience are a match. If, going in you meet eight of the top 10 job requirements, you’ll know to highlight those areas in your cover letter and in an interview, and will feel most confident addressing them.

“If you only have a small part of what the hiring manager is seeking, you’ll expect it’s a long shot and you’ll have some concerns to address for the interviewer. The more you know, the better prepared you will be and the more confident you will appear,” says Connors.

5. Fake it Till You Make It

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If you’re feeling discouraged going into your next interview, do your best to fake it. Smile, throw your shoulders back and be ready to greet the interviewer with a firm, assertive handshake.

“Make every interview an opportunity to not only get a job, but to polish your interview skills and build your confidence,” Connors says.

6. Find Common Ground

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Do a little detective work. Find your interviewer on LinkedIn and other social media sites and try to discover some common ground, says Connors. “Maybe you know some of the same people, both enjoy volunteering or like the same sports team. Whatever you share, remember that people want to work with people they like, and discussing commonalities with your interviewer is an effective and authentic way to start building a relationship,” Connors says.

7. Appreciate the Little Things

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It can be frustrating to get interviews without getting offers, but understand that it’s a major compliment that companies want to meet with you, regardless of the outcome. “Getting an interview is a coup — your background, experience and the way you present yourself on paper are appealing. Some candidates send resumes with no response. What you have to offer is appealing — remember that. It might be a timing issue, or a few tweaks to your interview technique that will eventually lead to an offer,” Connors says.

8. Fit Matters

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While it’s appropriate to strive for roles that may be slightly out of your reach, doing that too often could lead to too much rejection. To keep your job search on track, and your spirits high, go after roles that are the most ideal fit for your background, experience and interests. Save the long-shot interviews for the one or two companies or roles that really spark a fire in you.

9. Back to Basics

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Remember, start every interview with a firm handshake, look your professional best, be prepared with your company research, bring copies of your resume, have intelligent questions ready for your interviewer, and follow up with timely thank-you notes. Knowing you have these areas covered will help you best project the confident professional you are.

10. Try Some Retail Therapy

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No, this isn’t an excuse for a shopping spree especially at a time when you might need to be budget conscious. But, sometimes if you are feeling lackluster, a new pair of shoes, a fresh haircut, a fun accessory, a new tech gadget or an updated suit will give you the extra confidence and excitement to ace an interview.

Walk in with some swagger, and don’t hesitate to let the interviewers know why you’re the best person for this role, Connors says.

11. Know It’s Normal

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While it won’t take away all of your frustration or uneasiness, knowing the emotions you are feeling during your job search are part of the process and other job seekers are experiencing those feelings, too, can normalize the situation and help you feel better — and less alone.

12. Know When You’re Beyond Burnout

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Know when it’s time to seek professional help and support. As Matt Rothenberg, executive editor at points out, you should be aware if your emotional and mental health is crossing the line from burnout into a more severe condition. It may be time to see the help of a therapist or other support professional if you’re experiencing red flags like a consistently depressed mood, insomnia, significant weight gain or loss, withdrawing from normal hobbies or activities, increasing substance use or abuse, irritability and/or prolonged feelings of shame, hopelessness and helplessness.

Using these tips can keep burnout at bay, your emotions in check and your job search on the best possible trajectory.