How To Make The Job Search Less Stressful

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Let’s face it — the job search isn’t fun. And for most, it’s actually a huge stressor. In fact, a survey conducted by Hired found that 83 percent of employees say looking for a job is at least somewhat stressful, with 39 percent saying it’s very stressful. Job search stress is so bad that job seekers rate the process as more stressful than a root canal and only slightly less stressful than going through a breakup or divorce.

Those facts make the job search process sound pretty bleak, but it doesn’t have to be. You can take certain steps to reduce job search stress and make the process easier. Here’s how:

Don’t start from scratch

The typical job search starts on your browser. You spend hours searching through different job boards, social media platforms, and apps to find open positions you want. Then you need to research the company and see if it’s a good fit. Once you finally find a job and an employer you’re interested in, you send an application into the void of the internet, unsure if you’ll ever hear back. It all seems like a colossal waste of time.

And in some ways, it can be. After all, 25.5 percent of employed adults surveyed by Hired said they got their job through a referral. Referrals are even more common among people who said they love their jobs. That’s because it’s more effective, easier, and overall less stressful than cold applying to jobs. In the same survey, 55 percent said they would rather find a job through someone they know than to apply to one themselves.

Don’t start from scratch when starting your job search — start with an in. Find the employers you want to work for and then look for any connections you may have to those companies. Search on LinkedIn for any peers, classmates, or co-workers who work or who have worked for the company. Services like CareerShift can make this process even easier by helping you find connections and landing referrals.

Do the research

After finding and applying to jobs, the next step is the dreaded job interview. In the Hired survey, job seekers rated the interview as the most stressful part of the job search process. And it’s easy to see why.

You only have a short amount of time to make a great first impression, convince the interviewer you’re the best person for the job, and communicate your job history, skills, and experience. Not to mention, there’s the added pressure of knowing that one wrong answer could stand between you and the job.

While you can’t predict the questions you will be asked in the job interview, you can go in highly prepared. Take the time to research not only the company, but the interviewer. Review the company website, products, news, social media, and press releases. Connect with the interviewer on LinkedIn and learn about their background — the more you know, the better. You can even use Google alerts to keep you updated on news and trends about the employer in real time. That way, you don’t have to keep checking for updates in the days leading up to your interview.

Don’t worry about what the interviewer will ask. No amount of preparation can control what they will say, and it will only stress you out. Be confident in your knowledge of the company through your research.

Track your progress

After the job interview, you anxiously await to hear back. And obsessively checking your email each day can get pretty stressful, especially when you’re at different stages of the application process for different jobs. You may have just submitted an application with one employer right before you schedule an interview with another.

With so many balls in the air, keeping track of who you’ve heard back from, who you need to send follow-up emails to, and who you need to thank can get overwhelming. Take the stress out of the process by keeping track of your applications in a spreadsheet. Record major dates like when you sent in an application or completed a job interview, and keep track of all correspondence between you and the employer. You can even connect your spreadsheet with your calendar, so you’ll be reminded of when to send out follow-ups and thank you notes.

Keeping track of all your applications will reduce stress, as you can see exactly what’s happening and exactly where you stand with different employers.

Talk it out

Stress isn’t always logical, so creating a spreadsheet or doing more research won’t always do the trick. When the job search is too frustrating to handle, turn to a mentor or trusted colleague to talk it out.

Not only can your mentor potentially offer advice to help your search, but they can offer a shoulder to lean on and listen to you vent — which can be just as helpful. By talking through your frustrations, you’ll let off steam while reflecting on your experiences and your strategy.

The job search can seem like a crazy, long, and stressful process. But you don’t have to work harder, just smarter. Use these tips to tweak your process and relieve some of the stress traditionally associated with the job search.

What do you think is the most stressful part of the job search? Share in the comments below!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution that gives job seekers complete control over their job search. It's available for individual users, university and military career services centers, libraries, and corporations seeking to offer outplacement assistance to former employees. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.