The Four Ways to Maintain Your Sanity During the Job Search

April 21, 2016

The job search is one of the most stressful periods of time in your life. If you have a job and are looking for a new one, it’s most likely because you are unhappy, in need of more money or want to better your quality of life.  If you’re unemployed, you may feel your life depends on every application, resume, cover letter, and job interview you’re fortunate enough to get. The stress can create a lot of problems beyond just making careless errors, including mental and physical ailments that could have been avoided. I know; all of this is a lot easier said than done. To help, here are some tips for maintaining your sanity during the job search:

Maintain a Schedule
Too often, we allow the job search to consume our lives, spending countless hours in front of the computer or on the phone, believing the longer we search, the sooner we will catch a break. The key is to maintain a normal work schedule.  Wake up at your normal time and watch a little television or read a newspaper while drinking your morning cup of coffee. Check your social media platforms to maintain your connections with the outside world. And then at 9 or 10 a.m., when you would normally start your work day, instead, start your job search. By giving yourself a slow and steady start to the day, you can more easily research companies that are hiring, filter the jobs you want to apply for, then fill out applications and send out resumes to a select few. When you find yourself losing steam, allow for a full lunch break to decompress before returning to this grueling process. Once late afternoon comes around, wind up what you’re working on and shut off the laptop for the day. Spend time with people or just relax on the couch; whatever relaxes you the most. The level of normalcy will allow you to feel confident in what you accomplished that day and will motivate you to do it all again tomorrow if necessary.  

Take a Break
There are going to be points during the job search when you feel you have applied to every job and have made every possible call you can make yet still have no results to show for it. Feeling stressed and overwhelmed is normal and more likely than not, inevitable.  If you allow yourself to become a bundle of nerves, you might lash out or go overboard in your follow-up emails or calls, hurting your job prospects in the process. To succeed in your job search, you are going to have to learn that sometimes you just need to take a break: go outside and get some fresh air, go to the gym and relieve stress with a workout, catch a movie on Netflix, read a book, or play a video game that will allow you to get lost in the fun and forget your worries.  Whatever you can do to get out of your funk will benefit you over the long haul as you deal with the boredom and repetitive nature of the job search. 

Treat Yo Self
There is a running theme in the show Parks & Recreation where Tom and Donna go out and do whatever makes them happy, often spending lavishly and without care as to what such a lifestyle could do to their bank accounts. No one is saying you have to do that, but treating yourself (or “treat yo self” as the characters infamously proclaimed) from time to time is a good way to make yourself feel good when the job search beats you down.  Go get some frozen yogurt. If you’re really looking forward to an upcoming movie release, make sure you go see it.  Take a day off to enjoy whatever it is you want to do, even if it is just laying around in bed binge-watching your favorite program on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or any of the other countless streaming sites available to you.  If it makes you happy, then that’s what you have to do.  Although it may not seem like much, but these moments of fun really recharge the batteries to get you back into the work groove. 

Go Out with Friends
Sometimes it’s hard to consider going out with friends when you are having difficulty finding a new job.  You may even just be avoiding hearing the clichéd comments that people get while on their job search, like “don’t worry” or “you’ll get a job before you know it!” But remember, friends are vital distractions to the job search; they get you out of the house and force you to have fun when you’ve been consumed by your workspace.  They could hold the key to a potential job lead, and also help keep your socialization skills sharp.  You don’t want to spend so much time hidden away on your computer, searching for a job, that when you finally go out for a job interview, you’re actually hurt by the rays of the sun.  Don’t let the job search turn you into a hermit.  Having something to look forward to can help you deal with those things about the job search you are not looking forward to at all – rejection, job interview stress or the dreaded dead silence. 

Regardless of what you do, the job search will still remain a difficult part of your daily life.  But if you follow some of these tips, you can reduce the stress and have some fun in the process. 

 by Jon Minners

shoppers on Michigan Avenue
  • Alan was a great help to me in my job search even before he ever met me. He is very knowledgeable about the Chicago market and was a great encouragement throughout the process. I’m lucky to have found him – I think it made all the difference in landing at a great firm.

    Amy Mahone, Of Counsel

    Baker Donelson