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How to Use Your Stress in Job Search

Are you stressed about your job search?  Do you  feel you don’t have enough time to tackle your to-dos?   Does the challenge of finding a job seem overwhelming?

Many people assume that being stressed impede with their capability to function effectively, not to mention performing at a higher level than usual.  Well, think again.  It turns out being stressed might actually be helpful to you.  According to an article in Harvard Business Review, there are ways to actually make your stress work FOR you.

The author did an experiment to compare the results of two groups of subjects.

“The first group watched a video detailing all the findings about how stress is debilitating. The second group watched a video that talked about scientific findings that stress enhances the human brain and body. The latter information is less well known, but equally true. Stress can cause the human brain to use more of its capabilities, improve memory and intelligence, increase productivity, and even speed recovery from things like knee surgery. Research indicates that stress, even at high levels, creates greater mental toughness, deeper relationships, heightened awareness, new perspectives, a sense of mastery, a greater appreciation for life, a heightened sense of meaning, and strengthened priorities.”

As you may have already guessed, the group that focused on the positive effects of stress had a significant increase in their productivity level.  The author concluded –

“The findings of our study were significant: when an individual thought about stress as enhancing, instead of debilitating, they embraced the reality of their current stress level and used it to their advantage.”

So, how can job seekers apply these findings and turn their stress into an advantage?  Here are the three steps suggested by the author:

  1. Awareness of the stress
  2. Determining the meaning behind why you feel stressed
  3. Redirecting the stress response to improve productivity behind that meaning

What does it mean to job seekers specifically?  Let’s dig in a bit deeper and see how these apply to your job search:

1. Awareness of the stress

Become aware of your own stress is not very difficult for most people.  Once you detect your own stress, go into the following steps to take advantage of the situation.

2. Determining the meaning behind why you feel stressed

It’s helpful to see the root cause behind your stress so that you can seek specific solutions.  Examples include:

  • Time management: You realized that something has surprising taking up a lot more time than you expected and you couldn’t tend to other tasks you had planned to do.
  • Setting priorities: You have way too many things on your to-do list and just not enough time to tackle all of them.
  • Pressure: You feel that you are not meeting family and friends’ expectations and your own expectations.

3. Redirecting the stress response to improve productivity behind that meaning

Here are some of natural “consequences” of stress and how you can put them to work for you:

  • Greater mental toughness A job search process can become trying, especially when it is not going as smoothly as you expected.  Staying positive and hopeful and you will be successful.  This can help you deal with psychological pressure.
  • Strengthened priorities – Setting the right priorities will have a big impact on your productivity.  Having the wrong priorities, on the other hand, will lead to wasted time and energy and, therefore, a prolonged search.  How can you be sure your priorities are moving you in the right direction?  Having an effective job search strategy.  Good practice in setting priorities will definitely improve your time management.
  • Deeper relationships – Networking is a big part of successful job search today.  Your enhanced ability to build deeper relationships with your existing contacts and new ones will surely accelerate your progress.

Have you ever experienced being extra productive or well-performing under stress? Please share your stories and thoughts.

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