Well-Being//

How to Deal With the Stress of Job Hunting

Looking for a new gig while balancing your current role can feel like a second shift. Here’s how to find the right new job without sacrificing your mental well-being.

Solidcolours/ Getty Images
Solidcolours/ Getty Images

Job hunting often feels like a job in itself. Between networking, refining your resume, filling out applications, and going in for several rounds of interviews, the process can feel overwhelming and time-consuming — especially when you’re doing it on top of your regular job.

“The job search can sometimes be a quick process, but more often than not, it can take months to find the right fit,” Adrienne Partridge, Ph.D., an organizational psychologist and career coach, tells Thrive. According to Partridge, prioritizing your well-being is key when you’re juggling a full-time role while searching for your new gig. “It’s natural to get overwhelmed by the search and feel defeated when opportunities don’t pan out,” she says. “It’s imperative to put yourself first during this time.”

Partridge points out that being strategic and mindful about the process can help prevent it from feeling like a “second shift.” Here are five ways to make sure your search leads you to a job you love, without feeling overwhelmed with stress:

Adopt the “two-question” test

“First and foremost, it’s important to have a clear strategy for approaching the job search, especially when you have a full-time job,” Partridge urges. It can be tempting to fall down the “rabbit hole” of job applications online, but applying to every job you see can end up being a serious waste of time. Instead, Partridge suggests asking yourself two questions before you start working on an application: “Does this company seem like it’s in line with my values?” and “Does it seem like a place where I’d want to work?” If both questions warrant a yes, take the time to apply. If not, take it as a sign to focus your efforts elsewhere.

Set a schedule (and stick to it!)

“You don’t have to spend every waking moment outside of work on the job search,” Partridge points out. “The search can be an arduous one, so setting boundaries is important.” In fact, spending all your free time on a job search can put you on the fast track to burnout. Partridge suggests setting a specific schedule with your time outside of work, where you map out times for resume-building, networking, and interviewing — and then also, crucially, build in downtime for yourself. “Mindfully engage in the things that nurture you,” she suggests. Whether you would benefit from a five-minute meditation before an interview, or an earlier bedtime to stay well-rested, Partridge says building in the time to keep yourself grounded should be non-negotiable.

Hone in on your self-talk

Partridge also highlights the importance of changing the way you speak to yourself throughout the process, as the search can challenge your resilience and make you feel bad when you face setbacks. “Continue to build self-compassion while on the job hunt,” she urges — whether that means writing down your strengths on paper, or keeping a confidence mantra in mind throughout the process. “It’s natural to feel disappointed that you didn’t get a specific interview or that you didn’t get the offer you wanted,” she adds. “Instead of beating yourself up, consciously shift your inner dialogue.”

Get support from friends

Between your full-time job and your ongoing search, the job hunt can be a busy time in your life, so it’s important not to lose the relationships that keep you calm and happy. “People often forget to reach out to others,” Partridge notes. “If you can call your best friends or somebody close to you for some extra support, it can really help you maintain perspective. Plus, hearing a familiar voice can help keep you calm when you feel overwhelmed.”

Consider “better vs. best”

Sometimes, we become so unhappy in our current jobs that we are more willing to compromise just for the sake of landing somewhere new. Partridge points out that your job hunt is not about finding the next better thing for you — it’s about finding the best fit for you. “As humans, it’s a natural tendency to evacuate a situation when we feel frustrated, but what often happens is that you get back into a similar situation where you don’t like your job,” she points out. “Instead of taking anything, it’s okay to be selective and to work to find the best thing.” She suggests adopting a “better versus best” mentality, where you refuse to settle. “Don’t take the first offer just because you assume it will be better,” she says. “Take the time, and be purposeful about it.”

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