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4 strategies for managing your job search anxiety

If you’re feeling anxiety about how your search is going—or how long it’s taking—these techniques can help you feel more in control.

4 strategies for managing your job search anxiety
[Source images: carlotoffolo/iStock; Demianastur/iStock]
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Looking for a job can be nerve-racking enough, but add a global pandemic into the mix and it’s natural to feel a higher level of anxiety. If you were furloughed or let go within the past year, you may feel extra pressure to land a position. But it’s important to add a self-care routine into your job search, says Stephanie Heath, job search career coach and former recruiter for tech startups.

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“People may be concerned about a work gap,” she says. “The way their last professional role ended may also have them questioning their worth or that they’re not qualified for certain roles. Add in all of the news reports about COVID, and it all creates a lot of anxiety.”

To manage your job search and your anxiety, Heath suggests creating a plan:

Stick to a schedule

Consider a job search to be a job and create a routine around tasks. “I recommend designating five days a week to the process,” says Heath. “Make sure to take two days off for mental health.”

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Apply for five to 15 roles a day, depending on your function, and set a goal of getting your résumé seen by one to three recruiters, she recommends.

“It’s a flooded job market,” says Heath. “Relax into the fact that you need regimented daily activity to get eyes on your profile. Knowing you’re making progress can help with anxiety.”

Do calming exercises

Each day, take three minutes to do breathing exercises, and implement a meditation practice at least once a week, suggests Heath. It’s especially important before an important interview.

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Heath recommends a practice called “ego eradicator” that helps boost alertness. Sitting on the floor or in a chair, raise your arms at a 60-degree angle. With your elbows straight and shoulders down, reach up your thumbs and fold your fingers onto the mounds at their base. Stretch the palms and pull back the knuckles.

“This exercise slows down your nervous system as soon as you finish, which can help you be more relaxed,” says Heath.

During a virtual interview, rubbing your hand on your thigh or squeezing a stress ball can also be soothing. Another calming technique is pinching your fingers between your thumb and forefinger.

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Remind yourself of your worth

It can be easy to feel negative right now. Heath recommends writing sticky notes to remind yourself of your worth, including former accomplishments and accolades. During a video interview, put the notes where you can see them.

“Recruiters don’t schedule interviews with candidates they don’t think they’ll hire,” she says. “Job seekers may think they have something to prove, but recruiters already know they’re qualified. Knowing this can help calm your nerves.”

Embrace your nerves

It’s natural to be nervous. Instead of fighting it, take it as a sign that you care and give yourself some grace, says Heath. “Progressive companies are leaning into more conversational-style interviews, and part of the job of recruiters is to calm down candidates,” she says. “When you can calm down the job seeker, you get authentic true answers versus fight-or-flight responses.”

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If you find yourself rambling, don’t worry. “Recruiters expect job seekers to blubber for the first three questions,” says Heath. “It’s completely fine. The first few questions are meant to warm you up. They lead into a natural procession of a conversation. The best tip is to have some humility. Everyone appreciates a person who’s willing to be vulnerable.”