“I’m burned out,” Nerissa says. “I’m tired and out of ideas for finding a job. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong and I’m not sure what to do next.” Job search burnout is all too common, especially with the average length of unemployment stretching beyond the six month mark. Nerissa has been out of work 14 months and she, like many, is discouraged, worn out and unsure of her next steps. The solution is emotional care along with tactical steps to re-energize and re-ignite a stagnant job search.
“The hardest part for me is the uncertainty,” says Nerissa. “I have no idea what will happen, and when I will be back to work. I can’t plan a trip to see my aging parents. I keep hoping I will be working soon.” Job search can be emotionally draining. The uncertainty, rejection and lack of feedback sometimes combined with bitterness over a layoff, sense of isolation, or loss of identity after leaving a job, can really take a toll. Here are some thing long term job seekers do to cope:
- Acknowledge and work through feelings including anger, bitterness, frustration and fear. Stuffing them away doesn’t work.
- Focus on the positive. Keep a list of things you are thankful for. Surround yourself with positive people.
- Connect. Join a job search support group. Don’t go it alone.
- Set a schedule and keep a calendar. Don’t leave your week an endless stretch of unscheduled time, fostering isolation and boredom. Daily routines, scheduled activities and clear goals all keep you motivated and on track.
- Take care of your physical self. Eat right, get the right amount of rest, exercise.
- Build in enjoyment. Take time for recreation and activities you might not otherwise have time for. See friends more often. Treat yourself to relaxation sometimes.
For more on the emotional side of job search burn out, read “Self-care during job search”.
“I feel like I am doing everything I can,” Nerissa says. “Nothing works.” Job search burnout often leaves people feeling they’ve done it all, without success. Suggestions of steps to take are met with “I tried that and it didn’t work.” Often, burned out job seekers have tried a lot of different tactics, but usually not in the context of an overarching strategy. This scatter shot approach is like building a house in bits and pieces, rather than with a master plan involving structure, electricity, plumbing and so forth all moving forward in sync. Job seekers who have a strategy and a master plan are far less likely to burn out because there is always a next step. When one thing doesn’t work, there is always a way to learn and build off of it, as well as new things to try. For this reason, having a multi-faceted strategy is the top priority for a job seeker suffering burn in order to get back on track.
- Read “Creating a Job Search Strategy” and begin putting together your strategy.
- Analyze how you’ve been spending your job search time.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of each job search activity. For example, what is the response rate when applying to advertized jobs?
- Increase time spent on job search activities show to be most effective
- Revisit some activities you tried in the past that didn’t bring success. Work on improving how you do them, and then try again. Use our Troubleshooting Guide to analyze what is working and make changes where needed.
- Challenge yourself to try new job search activities on a regular basis
- Have daily, weekly and long term goals for your job search. Track and celebrate successes.
Here is our action plan to help Nerissa overcome her job search burnout:
- She will care for her emotional side by scheduling two weekday social engagements each week. This will help her feel less isolated and give her something to look forward to.
- Nerissa plans to return to keeping more regular “office hours” during which she focuses on her job search. Discouragement had caused her to cut those hours to a minimum but with the new activities strategy she sees the increased time and discipline will be necessary.
- She will develop a clear strategy for her job search, either on her own or by subscribing to Jobfully where she can access a complete strategy including video coaching, management and productivity software and goal setting, tracking and accountability.
- With her strategy in place, all of Nerissa’s job search activities will complement one another to accelerate her progress. All her efforts will work together to generate results.
What is your plan for breaking out of job search burn out?
Whether you are burned out, or have recovered from burn out, we would love to hear your story. Please share in the comments section below.