Job Search Anxiety Is Real — Here Are 7 Ways to Manage It

woman sitting in front of her laptop looking stressed

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Heather K Adams
Heather K Adams733
Content + Copy Writer
  • Anxiety, in general, tells us we're in an emergency situation; a high-stakes job search can easily make you feel like you need to rush your search or find the perfect role and company.
  • In order to combat job search anxiety, address the anxiety first by consulting a therapist and adding self-care to your routine.
  • Then, create structure around your job search and take time with your applications.

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While we all deal with anxiety at different times in our lives, some of us struggle with it almost daily. Even the smallest of tasks can become a minefield of worry and stress. Add into this the need to find a new job, either because you've been let go or simply no longer want to be where you are now, and anyone who suffers from anxiety can easily become over-stressed and burned out. Even those of us with normally low levels of anxiety can begin to feel the pinch. Yet dealing with job search anxiety can be done. These seven tips for managing the stress of job hunting will help you do it.

How anxiety affects the job search.

Job searching takes time. It's a process. You're looking for a position that's just right for you, with a company that's looking for someone just right for them. That doesn't happen overnight. Staying focused and positive is the only way to combat those overwhelming feelings of worry and fear.
Anxiety, however, essentially tells us that we're in an emergency situation — that everything needs to be figured out and resolved immediately — which will send you tearing through every job board you can think of, wasting valuable time and mental energy applying to positions that maybe aren't right for you. And the dead air you get in response — no calls, no interviews — will be disheartening and feed into your worry. This is a cycle that can become quite vicious in a hurry.

7 tips to manage your job search anxiety.

1. Address your anxiety first.

Sometimes anxiety isn't as simple as worrying over your finances or finding a good job. Sometimes it's a disorder that becomes pervasive, letting worry and fixation bleed into every aspect of your life. If you find yourself struggling continuously with job search anxiety, ask yourself if it seems to be at a level appropriate to your situation. If you're running at code red every single day, you may need medication or some other treatment to help you manage. Consider scheduling an appointment with your doctor.

2. Create structure around your job search.

One key to managing job search anxiety is going about that search in an organized fashion. Anxiety will make you feel like you need to apply to every single job you see posted on that giant job board you check every 10 minutes. A more reasonable approach is to create realistic search parameters to help you sift through all those postings. Don't waste your time applying to jobs for which you're not qualified, that won't provide you adequate salary or in some other way just don't fit.

3. Take your time with applications.

Start by revamping your resume. Is it as strong as it could be? Does it show you in the best light possible? Having a killer resume in your pocket is a major confidence boost, and you should allow yourself to feel proud of the work you put into making your resume shine. Then, take just as much time crafting cover letters or completing other application requirements. Conducting a more targeted job search means you'll actually be able to give yourself time to focus on each application, too.

4 Add self-care into your routine.

You can't spend all of your time on job hunting. Maintaining adequate self-care is crucial for everyone, but it's especially important when dealing with job search anxiety or any other stressful period. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, water and food. Make sure you're doing things you enjoy and which can distract you from your stress. Visit with friends, or go to your favorite café. Keep some degree of normalcy in your life during this time and fight against the anxious urge to chain yourself to your laptop. Taking care of yourself today is just as important as finding a job for tomorrow. 

5. Feel prepared for interviews.

First of all, let yourself get that little ego boost for snagging an interview. Then, prepare yourself by researching the company and building up your confidence further. Researching will give you a clearer idea of the company, its culture and perhaps even more of what they're looking for in a candidate for the position for which you're interviewing. Prepare for the interview by practicing your answers to standard questions (with a friend if that makes you more comfortable), planning your outfit, making sure you know where you're going and otherwise nailing all the little details that will chip away at that job search anxiety. And remember that you're going to be interviewing them as well. No matter how good a job or company looks on paper, you still need to get a feel for it on the ground. Keep this in mind to prevent yourself from feeling desperate and taking a job that doesn't really feel like a great fit.

6 Didn't get the job? Deal with your disappointment.

It's okay to be disappointed when you're passed over for a position, especially if you were really excited about the company. Let yourself really feel that for a while. But don't stop searching, networking and applying for other positions. Just because you didn't get this job doesn't mean you won't find one at all or that the one you find won't be awesome too. Deal with disappointment and job search anxiety by sticking to the routine and the structure, both for searching and for self-care, that you established before this interview. Remind yourself that everything really is going to be alright, no matter how much your anxiety may be trying to convince you otherwise.

7. Did get the job? Deal with continuing anxiety.

So, the interview went well, and you ended up landing the job. Reason to celebrate, right? Of course! But anxiety doesn't always just go away. It isn't as easy as flipping a switch. If you deal with persistent and pervasive anxiety, then your mind is more than likely going to find something else to fixate on and worry about even after you land an excellent new job. Start by understanding that new job nervousness or whatever else you're worrying about is perfectly normal. Keep your self-care routines in place and give yourself points for already navigating some pretty intense job search anxiety. Know that you can handle this new situation just as well.

Search better, stress less.

Dealing with job search anxiety is rough, but you can do it. Taking care of yourself while looking for work and conducting your search in a calm and organized fashion are essential. Letting your anxiety get the better of you is counterproductive at any time but especially when you're on the hunt for new employment and transitioning from one era of your life into another. Follow these tips to stay grounded and balanced and remember: you've got this.