The saying goes that looking for a job is a nine-to-five job in itself, and it’s very true, it can take up a lot of your mental and physical energy. On top of this, the job search can prove to be a very repetitive, daunting, and depressing task at times, especially if you’re not seemingly having much luck and it seems like you’re never going to get that long-awaited interview.
First and foremost, know that you’re not alone. A quick google search will lead you down the path of hundreds if not thousands of articles just like this one, talking about mental health and the job search, as it can bring about feelings of extreme distress and anxiety.
If you’re actively looking for a job but don’t want your mental health to struggle, read on and discover four very useful tips to care for your mental health whilst you keep scrolling through those job boards.
Establish a healthy routine
Emphasis on the word healthy. Sometimes when doing a job search you might get caught up in wanting to spend as much time as possible sending as many applications as possible. Whilst it’s obviously helpful to stay on top of it and be effective at making your job applications, you need to have some sort of schedule around it. Make some time for some exercise in the morning or evening (or whenever you find it helps you the most). Have normal mealtimes that break up your day so it doesn’t feel like a constant stream of hours of back-to-back uploading CVs and filling in forms.
Lena Ley, a psychology blogger, reminds us- “Sometimes we may feel like if we don’t take a break we’ll feel more rewarded but actually once you exhaust yourself you stop becoming as productive and you may start to make silly mistakes that could seriously hinder your applications anyway. Don’t leave all your leisurely activities for the weekend, include breaks during your week just like you would if you were working a job already”.
Connect with others and reach out for help if you need it
Unlike working a regular office job, where you can vent your frustrations to your co-workers and feel supported through your bad days, the job search period can be very lonely and isolating, as not many people around you may be in the same shoes. The saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved and those words could not be more accurate. There are many communities of job seekers out there where you can make questions, vent, or simply read other people’s experiences, which can make you feel encouraged that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Having conversations with your loved ones and friends is also a great way to feel encouraged as they’re granted to support you and give you words of encouragement. You should never feel embarrassed about being discouraged or struggling to find a job.
Change your outlook
Paul Smith, a career writer at Essay Roo says- “It’s important to shift your perspective when receiving bad news after an application or no news at all. Instead of thinking about how bad it is you haven’t heard from an employer or how you didn’t get the position you wanted, try to not take it personally and understand that sometimes hiring plans change, other candidates that may be better fitted show up or the hiring process is taking longer than expected, and none of these factors have anything to do with you as a professional”.
Whilst it is easier said than done, it is very important to remember that any hiring decisions made by a company are not a reflection of you or your professional abilities. You don’t know the ins and outs of their hiring process so don’t torment yourself with negativity about why you weren’t chosen.
Set small milestones
Baby steps are key. At the very beginning of your job search, you may have a set of goals that you want to achieve, like having well-written specific cover letters for every position you apply for and making a certain number of applications a day. Whilst this drive and determination are certain to help you land your dream position, it’s important that you don’t overwhelm yourself with targets that you may not be able to keep up with every single day, as even this on its own can make you feel down and make you lose motivation.
Set realistic daily goals that challenge you but don’t overwhelm you, and make sure you use your time wisely. Referring back to point number one, trying to pump out as many applications as possible in as little time as possible is likely to reduce the quality of your applications and cause strain on your mental health, so instead set smaller milestones where the quality of your work is guaranteed to shine through and where you can also gain a sense of accomplishment at the end of a long day.
In the end, it’s very important to give yourself some credit and cut yourself some slack. Finding a job in this day and age is harder than ever, with recruiters having stricter experience requirements and more varied sets of skills, and a rising pool of talent to compete with. Arm yourself with patience and stay resilient, do your due diligence and get on with it, but don’t forget you’re a human being with needs, emotions and your whole life should not revolve around filling out job applications. Take it one step at a time, be patient with yourself and with recruiters, and know that sooner or later you will be going to work every day to do what you love. Remember to keep up that schedule and talk to your friends!