7 Ways to Deal With Job Search Burnout

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Becca Carnahan1.11k
Career Coach & Mom of 2
May 29, 2024 at 8:35PM UTC

Are you feeling burned out in your job search? 

*Looks out to the sea of raised hands* 

Ah, my friend, you are definitely not alone. Even in a strong job market, the job search can be stressful, exhausting and confidence busting. 

The good news is that we can turn this around. Use these seven strategies to manage job search burnout and build new momentum towards landing your next dream role.

1. Hit pause

It’s okay to take a job search break, and it might even be completely necessary. If you’re burning out in your job search, then you will not be bringing your best self to informational conversations, networking, and interviews. Then since you aren’t showing up as the best version of you, you won’t get the results you want and the cycle continues.

Hitting pause can look like going to bed early instead of staying up late to apply to another job. It can look like taking three days off from all things job search-related to spend time with family and friends. Or, you may even need a longer break to manage a big project in your current position so that you can come back into your job search with renewed focus. The world will keep spinning if you take a break — I promise.

2. Brain dump

When behavior change scientist, Dr. Jacqueline Kerr, discusses burnout, she references a two-pronged model — reducing stressors and leveraging resources. To get started, you need to know what those stressors are in order to leverage the right resources.

Try a brain dump exercise to get this all out of your head and onto paper. What is stressing you out right now — in your job search and in life in general? Write it all down with no judgment. 

Then, as Dr. Kerr recommends, look at what you’ve written down to determine if other stressors in life are getting in the way of your job search. Can those stressors be reduced? Are there creative ways you can get more help with those stressors during this time so you are not approaching a job search already depleted?

3. Clarity check

Remember when we talked about hitting pause? You may also need to hit pause in your job search so that you can ask yourself an important question — am I crystal clear on what I want and need out of my next job?

If the answer to that question is “no,” then you are adding extra stress to your job search, leading to burnout. That’s because a scattershot approach to a job search is going to lead to a lot of rejection or radio silence, or countless exhausting interviews for jobs you don’t actually want. A focused job search keeps you motivated because you have a clear goal in mind and clear action steps to take to get there.

Need help finding clarity? Start here.

4. Focus on what you can control

Now that you are clear on where you are headed and what your stressors are, make two lists — things are that are within your control and things that are outside of your control. 

Things that are outside of your control might include when or where a company posts an open job, if your target job will become available and the economy. Things that are within your control include how many outreach emails you send to people in your target industry/company/function, your interview prep and the effort you put into making your LinkedIn profile stand out.

You’re not taking work off your plate, but you are taking some worry off of your plate when you think about your job search in these terms. You commit to focusing 100% of your efforts on what you can control and 0% of your brain energy on things that you cannot control. It’s freeing and a helpful way to think about using your time effectively.

5. Remind yourself of your wins

Your confidence can take a hit during your job search, so one way to manage the stress and burnout of rejection is to remind yourself of just how great you really are.

One way to do that is to check your email. Career Coach and Corporate Wellness Speaker Aileen Axtmayer recommends to clients to keep a “Happy Folder” in their inbox that they fill with positive messages and accolades about their work. If you have a Happy Folder, open it up and read those messages from colleagues and clients.

If you don’t have a Happy Folder (yet), read your LinkedIn recommendations or check out your past performance reviews. You have done exceptional work in your career so far and your next employer is going to be lucky to have you. 

6. Play to your strengths

Sometimes, job search burnout arises because you are battling your way upstream in your job search and not playing to your strengths. Consider where you’re pushing yourself so far out of your comfort zone that it’s depleting your energy. 

For example, if you are naturally introverted and you’re forcing yourself to go to in-person networking events, you might get exhausted quickly. Instead, take your networking online and find people you’d like to chat with 1:1 on a Zoom or phone call. This way you are setting yourself up for success by leaning into what you’re great at — building individual relationships with deep listening instead of working a crowd.

7. Seek out community

One of the most important tools in your toolbox for managing job search stress and burnout is connecting with other people. Whether that is reaching out to supportive friends and family members who are going to cheer you on, or connecting with other job seekers to share resources, it’s important to let other people in.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Becca Carnahan is a career coach, author, and mom from Massachusetts. As the founder and CEO of Next Chapter Careers, LLC, she specializes in helping parents land fulfilling jobs they love without giving up the flexibility they need. Signup for her free job search training at beccacarnahan.com/freetraining.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for dealing with job search burnout? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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