None of this is made any easier by the fact that job interviews can be absolutely brutal for some people.
However, we want to focus on the positive today. Job hunting will always be stressful, but there are ways to manage that stress in productive ways. Here are four tips for managing the stress of the job hunt.
We’ve given variations on this basic advice countless times on this blog: The best approach is a proactive one rather than a reactive one.
When you’re looking for work, you need to be prepared. Run your resume by a trusted friend or coworker. Research common interview questions and practice answering them in the mirror. Come up with questions of your own to ask your interviewer. Read up on good interviewing practices. If your interview is remote, make sure your visible space is presentable and not a mess.
When you go into a situation completely off the cuff, you’ll feel a lot more stress than the person who’s well-prepared. Job hunting is just like anything else: Practice will make you better at it. And the better your skill, the higher your confidence level will be, which will reduce the overall stress of the experience.
No, this will probably never be a completely stress-free process, but you can take control by preparing well. If you’re ready for whatever the process throws at you, you can reduce the stress level substantially.
Talk to someone you trust.
If you have an interview lined up, see if you can schedule a call with a good friend or family member afterward. If the experience went well, you can tell them all about it. If you feel like it went poorly, you can vent. Either way, talking through what you think were the high and low points of your interview with someone who’s not involved can be a great release valve for pent-up stress, and it allows you to process what was undoubtedly a high-stress experience.
One thing we should point out, though, is you shouldn’t do this publicly. Don’t meet up for coffee or dinner to talk about the interview in a public space, because you never know who will overhear you. If someone from the company hears you complaining about their interview process, you might lose the opportunity.
Take a break.
If you were recently let go from a job, don’t go looking for work that same day. We recommend a two-week break to get into a better headspace. The last thing you want to do is carry over the stress of getting let go into your job hunt.
This seems counterintuitive for a lot of people, and we often hear the excuse, “I can’t afford to wait.” But what you actually can’t afford to do is jump from one highly stressful situation into another one. The excuse that you can’t afford to wait is actually just a stress response to being let go. You’ve created an uncertain situation, and you feel like you can’t relax until you’ve figured out your next step.
Now, we’re certainly not advocating for reckless inaction. If an opportunity comes up naturally, go for it. But we recommend taking two weeks off. Get your house or apartment tidied up. Read a book. Catch up on some projects at home that you’d been putting off. Meet up with some friends. Go for a hike. Explore a town you’re not familiar with.
Spend two weeks focused on self-care. You’ll be surprised how refreshed you feel, and how positive your outlook becomes. Take that energy into your job hunt, and you’ll reduce a great deal of stress automatically.
Apply for jobs you don’t want.
This is a strange piece of advice that a lot of people don’t consider, but we stand behind it.
When you start looking for work, you should apply for some jobs that you know you could get but you don’t actually want. Get your resume in order, go to an interview, then, when the time comes, decline the offer.
This does two things for you. Firstly, it creates a low-stress situation. When you don’t want the job, you won’t feel as stressed out about the outcome. You can fail as hard as you want, and you don’t actually lose anything. Secondly, it allows you to practice your job-hunting skills. You’ll get a feel for the interview flow, and you’ll start to hone your resume as you realize there are things you could be doing better. Remember our first point? This is one really effective way to become a better prepared job seeker.
One important thing to note, though, is that you shouldn’t end up taking the job if it gets offered to you (unless it ends up sounding incredible). Don’t force yourself into a job you think you’ll hate just to avoid trying to get one you love. The whole point of this exercise is to develop skills that will get you into your dream job, not that you’ll settle into something easy yet unfulfilling.
Everyone who’s ever tried to get a job knows the stress of the hunt. This will always be a stressful experience. However, the four things we’ve outlined above should take the edge off a bit, which we hope leads to a less stressful and more rewarding job hunting process.
Good luck out there!