Coping with Job Search Exhaustion

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It’s a truism that the job search is a job unto itself. But if a truism is a statement that, while obviously true, adds nothing to the conversation, this may not be a truism after all, because it does add something to the conversation. In fact, the idea that the job search is hard work is an idea with important ramifications.

And all that is doubly true when you embark on a job search while you’re already employed. But with or without that extra pressure, you can easily find yourself drained, exhausted, and discouraged by the whole process. There are, however, ways to cope. Although none of them will magically make the experience painless, there are ways to keep yourself sane and on course.

Think globally. To start with, don’t let yourself forget the big picture. Remember what you don’t like about your current situation. Remind yourself of why you’re doing this, what you hope to achieve with this job-search grind. And keep at least one eye on the prize, on the ultimate outcome you desire, whether that’s a better cultural fit, or more interesting and challenging work, or the practical outcome of better compensation and benefits. In short, don’t lose sight of the rewards you’re pursuing.

Act locally. But the big picture is not the whole picture, and viewing the search as one massive project can make it feel that much more overwhelming. Many times, when you’re confronted with a big monolith of a project (like this one), it helps to break it into smaller, more digestible pieces. And there are many of those pieces: update LinkedIn, revise your resume, expand your network, research companies and industries.

Even those pieces can be broken down into smaller bits. When it comes to your resume, for example, perhaps one task is getting the formatting looking its best. Revising the content is potentially another separate task. Revising part of the content is yet another, and so on.

The advantage of this approach is two-fold. First, each task on its own looks a lot less intimidating, so you’ll be more

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likely to do it, yet accomplishing each task adds up. Second, doing each little thing gives you something to feel good about – and that’s especially useful if you’re feeling at all discouraged. Small tasks give you the chance to give yourself at least a small pat on the back.

So make a plan and attack this project in manageable chunks.

Let go of what you can’t control. There are certainly plenty of phases of a job search that are in your control: LinkedIn, your resume, your willingness to reach out to people in your network, the extent of your interview preparation. And that’s just to name a few.

But there are equally parts of the process that are profoundly out of your control, including the internal hiring processes of organizations you interact with. Companies are far from uniform. Some have one interview, some have ten, and others like to add variations that can include panel interviews, case presentations, and coding problems. Beyond that, there’s no universal approach to communicating with you, with more than enough companies deciding to outright ghost you at almost any given moment.

All of that uncertainty can be a burden, but the plain truth is that little of that is within your control and none of it is worth brooding over. Control what you can – all the things you’ve done to make yourself a better candidate – and make a conscious effort to let the rest of it go. Your psyche will thank you.

Treat yourself kindly. Along those same lines, try to go into this process knowing that not every application will yield an offer, or even an interview. Some of those unsuccessful attempts will be learning experiences; others may leave you mystified.

But be willing not only to give yourself a break, but to set limits on any tendency you have to dwell on the ones that got away. Yes, it can be discouraging when an offer doesn’t materialize, but remember that this was something to be expected. This is par for the course. This happens to all of us from time to time. Take a moment, or a day, to brood, but then make a specific, conscious choice to move on to the next opportunity.

Head back to our first principle here (Think globally) and remember why you’re doing this in the first place. Then act locally, and do a little more polishing – just a little – on that resume. All of a sudden, you’re moving forward again.

I can help you craft a game plan and a resume to get you to your career goal.


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