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How to cope with the job search

Posted by: Nicholas Withers
21/05/2020
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This week is World Mental Health Week and under current conditions it’s more important than ever to look after yourself, seek help if you need it and take steps to manage your mental health. 

Talking about mental health is important. It’s also important to be honest with yourself about your own needs. If you are struggling, please talk to those close to you and seek expert advice. Here is a list of helplines and support groups provided by the NHS for a wide range of mental health situations: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/ 

We’ve previously talked about ways to manage your mental health in the workplace and, more recently, ways to look after your mental health while working from home. Today we’re talking about how to manage your mental health while on the job search. 

Job hunting at the best of times can be a difficult and stressful process. Here are some tips for managing the process and staying positive. 


(Image via Jeff Sheldon / Unsplash)

Structure

When you’re at work, your days likely have a set structure. You have your familiar workspace, you have your working hours and break hours, you might have regular meetings that happen at the same time or same day each week. We like structure, it provides a comfortable order that helps us manage our goals, organise our tasks and stay focused.

When you’re not working, however, you lose that structure and that’s what causes stress and anxiety. So one of the best things you can do for your mental health is recreate a simple structure to your day that will bring back some sense of control and organisation.  

It doesn’t have to be as extreme as setting an hourly calendar (eg. 9am-10am update cv, 10am-11am search networking opportunities) - in fact, over-organising can itself create more stress if you fail to stick to it. Instead keep it simple: make a plan to work on your CV each morning, or take an online class each afternoon. Maybe set yourself small tasks like contact 3 hiring managers/recruiters per day. And set a time for when you finish the job search each day - the way you would finish a work day - so you can keep some work/life balance.

Create a structured plan for your days and fill it with small, achievable goals to reduce anxiety and stay focused and productive for longer.


(Image via Tim Goedhart / Unsplash)

Take time for yourself

Job searching can create a sense of panic. “When am I going to find a new role”, “Am I doing enough”, “How many interviews should I be lining up”. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the pressure to find your next role and burnt out by focusing too much on it while paradoxically feeling you’re not doing enough. 

We touched on it before, but the work/life balance is still important even when the “work” is not strictly “employment”. When you’re looking for work you’re still focusing on a job and it’s important to take some time away from that. Time for your family, time for your hobbies and, most importantly, time for yourself.

Depending on your financial situation, you may even be able to take some time away from the job search itself. Holidays are not just pleasant experiences, they are vital for mental health. You need some time to unwind, re-evaluate your needs and think about things other than your work. 

Even if you can’t take an extended break from the job search, you can still find time. Set a cut off point in the evening to switch off from the job search and spend some time relaxing, watching TV, reading or playing sport - anything that will give you something to think about that’s unrelated to work. Make time to see friends and family. Take up a new hobby. You can even make a start on any household tasks that you kept meaning to get round to but didn’t have the time when you were working. 

The job search can be stressful, so make sure you counter it with some stress-free time. 


(Image via Dustin Belt / Unsplash)

Talk

Job searching inevitably comes with rejection. No matter how skilled you are there are always going to be times when you miss out on an opportunity. Maybe you didn’t gel with the interviewer, maybe there was another applicant with more experience. Often the reason can be unclear, and it’s easy to feel down if you don’t win a new role. It’s important to remember that if there are three applicants to one job, two of them are going to be disappointed. The odds may not be in your favour so don’t feel too down when you miss out. 

What you can do, though, is talk. Talk to your family, talk to your friends - talk to someone with professional advice. Talking is one of the most effective ways to manage anxiety and depression. Unfortunately when we feel rejected we can also feel embarrassed about it. You may feel as though you’re not good enough, as though you should have done something more to secure the job - even when you know there was nothing you could have done. And when we’re embarrassed we try to keep it to ourselves. But doing that is not a healthy response and can only make you feel worse. 

So take that first step and talk to someone about it. Tell them about the opportunities you didn’t get, the opportunities you hope to get and how you’re feeling about the job search itself. You may be surprised at how supportive people are when you talk to them honestly, and how they’re able to see the value you have even when you can’t see it yourself. 

Seek out support and you will find it. 


(Image via Cytonn Photography / Unsplash)

Help others

The same way that talking to others can help you feel better, make sure that you’re available to those closest to you for them to talk. Right now the world is going through a scary and unpredictable change, and many people are facing challenges. Whatever situation you’re in, chances are you know someone who is currently dealing with their own job search and all the pressure that it can bring. Reach out to them, let them know that you’re available and pay attention to how they’re feeling. It’s just as important to look out for others’ mental health as our own. We can help each other by supporting each other.


(Image via Jonny Caspari / Unsplash)

For more information and advice on mental health support, see the following list of helplines: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/


(Image via Clem Onojeghuo / Unsplash)

If you’re currently looking for a new job, Fircroft’s experienced recruitment team can help. Register your CV with us today.

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