How to Deal with Job Search Anxiety

If the thought of finding a new job fills you with glee and a surge of excitement for the future, we’re jealous. For the rest of us, searching for a job can feel downright frightening. A major part of your life is hanging on the line, and the stakes may feel unbearably high.

Before you panic too much, it’s time to calm down and deal with your job search anxiety. We have some advice for your common questions to help you cope with your job search jitters.

Finding a new job may never be your definition of fun, but it’s worthwhile to pursue. Keep at it, and good things will happen.

How do I reduce stress and job search anxiety during the job search?

  • Break down the job search into small tasks and take each task step by step. It sounds obvious, but it will keep the process from becoming overwhelming. Whether you need to write a resume, or apply to 10 companies per day, remember that big accomplishments are made with small steps applied consistently over time.
  • Stay organized. Feeling overwhelmed by a confusing mess of information can compound your stress. Whether you use a spreadsheet or a list or a folder with all your application information, tracking your ongoing applications and conversations will help to keep your anxiety in check.
  • Keep everything in perspective. You may feel afraid for your future or worry that you’re not “good enough” because you are struggling to find a job. Remember that finding a job is rarely a life or death situation and you have many gifts to give regardless of your employment status. With hard work, persistence and a desire to continually learn, you will find a job.

Why is job hunting so hard?

The ease with which you find your next job depends on a multitude of factors, many of which you don’t have control over. Your location’s economy, the number of people in the area with your skillset, the demand for your skillset, your level of experience and your network all play a big role in how easy, or difficult, it will be to find your next position.

Market saturation, a lack of experience, over-qualification, under-qualification or a lack of demand for your skill set may be holding you back. Each job seeker’s situation is unique, so determine what your challenge is and brainstorm ways to overcome it. Sometimes that means moving, investing in an additional skill set or taking a job you desire less to get to the job you desire more.

What can I do to make the job search easier?

As mentioned above, the ease or difficulty of finding a job depends on many factors, some of which you don’t have control over. That said, here are a few things you can do to make the hunt more effective:

  • If you are in a professional industry, make sure you have an updated LinkedIn profile. Employers really do use LinkedIn to find candidates. Likewise, make sure you have added your skill set to LinkedIn so companies looking for candidates with a specific skill can readily find you.
  • Work with a staffing company. Staffing companies are directly connected with business leaders and job openings. Research what staffing agency makes sense for you to partner with.
  • Network, network, network. Expand the number of people you know to learn more about opportunities in your area. Many jobs are never posted online, so tapping into those unpublished openings may be just the boost you need.

What should I do if I want to leave my job but I’m afraid of the job hunt?

If the thought of posting resumes curdles your blood, try seeking a job passively. Join any professional groups or community organizations that work with your schedule to expand your network. The majority of positions aren’t posted, so networking will help you put feelers out for opportunities that aren’t available to the general public. By expanding your network, you will increase your access to countless job opportunities in your area while staying at your own job. Be honest about desiring a new opportunity with the new people you meet. Develop an elevator pitch so you can quickly explain your best attributes.

Should I look for a job after I quit my current job or while I’m still working?

It’s usually easier to find a job while you are still employed. Employers don’t have to worry about your record as an employee as much, since you seem like a reliable person who will not quit without notice or give them cause to fire you. While searching for a job is time-consuming, using your free time to submit applications, update your resume and network may give you a better shot of landing an initial interview. That said, it’s more than possible to find a job once you quit.

What are the warning signs it’s time to look for a new job?

There are many signs it’s time to look for a job, but here are some of the most common:

  • You are bored. You know there is no place for you to grow with your current company or in your current position.
  • The fact that you find your job frustrating or distasteful is creeping into most every conversation you have in your personal life.
  • You dread coming into work each day. When you are at work, you find yourself daydreaming about walking out constantly.
  • You are spending more time in conflict with your coworkers than you are actually working to accomplish goals at work. This conflict never results in anything productive, other than stress and anger on your part.
  • You consistently struggle to get through the day. Everyone has hard days at work, but more and more of your days feel like they last an eternity.
  • Your job makes you feel bad about yourself. You are internalizing conflict that happens at work. The relationships in your personal life may be suffering as a result of the frustration you are feeling from your professional life.

Why do I hate job hunting so much?

If you want to get rejected, start searching for a job. When you’re searching for a job, your future is uncertain, you and your abilities are being constantly critiqued, and you may be battling financial anxiety. Likewise, the stakes are high and there’s a lot of pressure, both personal and financial, to find a job quickly. It’s no wonder job hunting is way less fun than a trip to the dentist. That said, the stress of the job search will be worth it when you find a job that meets your needs. Keep trying and applying. Eventually, the results will come.

How do I cope with job search frustration?

The job search can be frustrating, especially when you have been searching for months and haven’t been able to find anything that meets your needs. If you’re feeling anxious or defeated, take extra precautions to protect your mental health. To the best of your ability, make sure you are eating healthy and getting enough sleep.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for support. Not only will talking about your search with others help you process your frustration, but also maintaining your social connections can help you find a job much more quickly through networking.

Be open to unorthodox solutions. Working with a staffing company can minimize many of the most frustrating aspects of the job hunt for you. Since staffing companies have connections with many businesses, getting an initial interview and first chance is much easier when you work with a staffing partner. Likewise, you may need to assess your career goals. Sometimes, it may be better to invest in a new skill set that is valuable in the economy if your current skill set isn’t getting you very far.

Ultimately, remember that staying motivated to search and learning as much as you can to improve your chances will help you succeed in your job search, even if you don’t find something immediately. Finding the right job can be a long-game. Just make sure you keep playing.

I have to find a job in a new city, which is really stressing me out in my job search.

Finding a job in a new location, especially when it’s out of state, adds an extra layer of challenge to the already nerve-jittering experience of searching for a new position. Search for your position how you normally would on a job board and using any members of your network to find positions within that area. It is often a good idea to note on your resume that you plan to move and by what date you will move. This will show employers that you are serious about moving so they will have less reason to fear you are a flake. Consider your financial situation when determining whether to move without having a job or if you must wait till you find a new job in that area before you can afford living expenses. Make sure you research the cost of living in your new location, as these expenses can differ drastically by location.

Finally, you’ll want to consider when you need to apply if you know you will be moving on a specific date. If you apply too early before you move, you may risk companies ignoring your application because they need someone to start more immediately. On the other hand, if you apply too late, you risk not finding a job in time for your move. Unfortunately, there’s no easy formula for determining the right amount of time to begin applying. It really depends on your industry’s standards and your level of experience. Consult with others in your industry if you have questions.

Being unemployed makes me feel bad about myself.

Just about everyone who has ever worked in America has also been unemployed. Yes, being unemployed is scary financially, and even worse, it’s natural to doubt your abilities, your worth to society, even your identity. That said, it’s something everyone has to go through. Struggle and adversity make us stronger, as long as you keep trying to find a job and learning how to become better. If you’re really hurting emotionally, consider reaching out for professional help. If you don’t currently have insurance or can’t afford to see a counselor, it’s worth researching whether your area offers free, or subsidized counseling services.

How do I deal with job search depression?

Stress and feelings of rejection can lead to depression during your job search, making it even more difficult to find your next position. If you’re struggling with feelings of depression, keep the following in mind:

  • Establish a routine: If you are currently unemployed, it’s easy to let your life turn into chaos when you don’t have the structure of a job to help you regulate your days. Think of your job search as your new job. Wake up and go to sleep at regular times.
  • Take care of your physical health: Stay physically active and make sure you eat right. Taking care of your body will give your mind and spirit the ability to heal.
  • Get support: Worry about your job prospects and struggling with feelings of shame may cause you to withdraw from others. Fight the urge and stay connected. Expanding your network can exponentially help your job search. If you are really struggling with feelings of depression, consider seeking professional help from a counselor.
  • Consider volunteering: If you are struggling with self-worth, volunteering is a great way to help others in need, network with those in your community and utilize a skill set.

When is it time to leave your job even though job hunting is terrible?

Yes, searching for a job is stressful and hard, but finding a new position opens many possibilities for a better life, especially if you’re unhappy with your current position or your growth is being stifled. If you dread going to work every day or you know that you won’t be able to reach your potential in your current gig, it’s probably time to start the search.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance. Talk with a staffing agency if you’re having a hard time or a lot of anxiety about connecting with the right businesses. If you have trusted friends, family members or mentors, talk about your career goals and concerns to get a well-rounded idea of your next move.

Being unemployed makes me feel down on myself.

That’s understandable. Unemployment results in financial stress and many doubts about yourself and your self-worth. Don’t be afraid to seek help from others. If you are really struggling, it may be a good idea to seek counseling. If you are struggling financially, check to see if there are any free or reduced cost programs in your area.

If you need something to do to stay occupied and boost your self-confidence, consider volunteering. This may be a great way to stay occupied, perform something meaningful and connect with others in your community. The more you try and see yourself succeeding, even at small tasks, the more confidence you will gain. Push through your fear and discomfort and keep working. Your hard work will pay off eventually.  

If you are experiencing job search anxiety, it’s probably time to start assessing your options. Finding a new job can be frightening, but your job impacts your quality of life in a major way. It’s time to take the plunge and find something better, even if it means momentary discomfort of an uncertain future.