Is your job search wearing you down?

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Looking for a new job can feel like it takes forever. I have written several articles in the past about how to assess the effectiveness of your job search  and how to conduct an effective search (See Resume Mistakes, and Find a Job You Love, and References, and Recommendations, to name a few). But even when you do everything right, the job search can drain your energy.

Mike was a software test manager with a solid career in IT. He lost his job in a recent cycle of lay-offs at his company. Mike took time between jobs to evaluate his career in order to find a job that he really enjoyed. He sought the help of a career coach to sift through his strengths and skills and target the type of job and company where he would thrive. He developed targeted tools for his job search, including a new resume, cover letter, personal branding statement, and LinkedIn profile. He actively worked his professional and personal network to locate job leads. Mike persistently followed up. Mike spent every spare moment looking for work, chasing leads, and checking emails and voicemails to see if recruiters or hiring managers had replied. Mike felt exhausted by the process and burned out on his job search.

If you don’t manage your job search efforts effectively, even when you are doing all the right things, you can burn out just from looking for work. So what can you do to stay committed to the search process, and maintain your energy and a positive outlook?

I have discovered three (3) actions you can take to keep your job search from wearing you down.

1. Establish realistic expectations.

Once you know what you want, and are doing all the right things to get it, it can be very difficult to be patient and wait for the outcome you desire. We tend to want it now, not later. Even when you leverage a targeted, effective job search, it can take up to six months to find a job in today’s job market (link). Is it possible to get a job sooner? Of course it is. But if you set your expectations for six months, you will be far less likely to burn out. Having realistic expectations is foundational to a healthy and happy job search.


2. Schedule your job search activities.

I often write and speak about the importance of scheduling any new commitment to action, because it is a critical component to successful change. Schedule time in your calendar in the same way that you would schedule time for an important meeting at work or a doctor’s appointment. Treat your job search appointments with the same care and value. If you schedule online company research Monday at 9am, then do not run errands for your spouse or meet a friend for coffee at that same time. Schedule all of your job search activities on your calendar, day by day, week by week, so you know when you are getting the job search work done. Make a commitment to yourself to follow through with these scheduled activities, and then keep that commitment.


3. Schedule your breaks.

Mike fell into the trap of never taking any kind of break from his search. Just as it is important to schedule time for your job search activities in your calendar, it is equally important to schedule time away from the job search. During your breaks, do not check your emails or voice mails. Instead, meet a friend for coffee, visit a museum, or take your kids to the park. Find things to do that you enjoy, activities that refresh and renew your spirit, and put them in your calendar. Make another commitment to yourself to follow through with these scheduled breaks.


You will be amazed at how different you will feel by taking these three actions. By setting realistic expectations of results, planning your job search activities and doing them, and scheduling breaks for fun and refreshment, you will be able to maintain your positive energy and outlook for your job search. If you are feeling drained by your job search, I encourage you to take one of these steps today. (For more ideas, see Recover from Job Search Burnout.)

What are some steps you have found helpful to keep your job search from wearing you down? Your answers might help someone else. I invite you to share them on my blog below.


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Client Stories

 I was looking to make large changes in my life, both job and city.  I was a happy midwestern resident for nearly 30 years but wanted to see what life on a coast was like and get a dream job.  This was a tall order and going into it I thought I would have to make large compromises on parts of my dreams to get any of it.  

I went to Lori to help me achieve these dreams.  It was the best decision I made.

She focused on two things right out of the gate:
  1. clarify my goals, both personal and professional
  2. get me to stop selling myself short

These twin achievements allowed me to approach my hunt with confidence, patience and focus.  My original dream job was to try and combine my technical joys with a personal one.  I enjoy large scale data processing with cutting edge tools, music and baseball.  Through the tools Lori taught me and helped me unearth in myself I got that gig that would have fallen into day dream territory before our work together.  

And yeah, there's platinum records on the walls of my lobby and I have tons of data to process.

Pat Christopher, Intelligence Engineer, Seattle, WA