Looking for a job - dealing with the stress

Looking for employment can be incredibly hard work and a full time job in itself!

Your job search tasks may include:

  • Identifying your skills, abilities, qualifications, experience, personal interests and matching them to a fulfilling, rewarding career
  • Researching companies
  • Composing a CV or resume
  • Identify your employee value
  • Write a cover letter
  • Prepare for the interview,
  • Attend the interview.
  • Keep logs of all the jobs you are applying for
  • Contact referee's to make sure the details are up to date and they remember you.
  • Update your skills and undertake extra training.
  • Finance your job search - interview clothes, travel expenses to interview, postage for CV's, stationary etc.

Like all jobs, job hunting can be a source of stress. It can be tiring; mentally challenging and can result in anxiety and even feelings of depression. Your confidence can take a bashing if you do not experience early success and the longer it takes to find work the worse you may start to feel. It is very important to manage your job-hunting stress in order to minimise risks to your health, confidence and stamina.

In addition to stress relating to the work involved in finding employment there are other sources of stress relating to your search for work.

These might include some of the following:


If already employed you may be worried about telling your existing employer that you are seeking new employment in case they take offence and make problems for you while you work through your period of notice which can be as much as two months in some jobs.

Your colleagues might be resentful about you leaving them in the lurch with extra work to do while they cover the period between you leaving and another employee joining them. They may have to train the new employee and begrudge doing so. They may also feel jealous if it appears that you are moving onwards and upwards in your career while they are being left behind. They may make your existing work environment difficult.

Either that or you are just worried about how to handle this situation when it arises and that worry leads to you becoming anxious and stressed.

Being in full time employment means that your 'work' re finding a job has to be done in the evenings and on your days off. This leaves little time for rest and relaxation and spending time with family and friends. This can add a strain to those relationships and affect your sense of personal well-being.


If you are unemployed, your financial situation could be difficult and you might be experiencing debt and all the stress that comes with that. While your finances are already tight the job-hunting process will add to your expenses. You will have to purchase stationary, fund travel to interviews and buy a suitable interview outfit.

Motivation may also be a factor as you may feel you have all the time in the world and so actually get less done than you might do if you were under pressure with limited time. Your confidence might be low and that may also affect your motivation.

Personal Stress

You may feel under pressure to please everyone, those at work and those at home and thus not manage your job hunting time well at all and get very little of it done. The result of course being to lower your chances of job-hunting success and add to feelings of stress.

How do I manage job-hunting stress?

Not being able to be effective in your job search can lead to feelings of inadequacy, fear of failure, hopelessness, resentment and a multitude of other negative feelings. It is important during this job-hunting time to manage your stress and remain focused on the task at hand. In order to deliver your best you need to be healthy and motivated for your job search.

Despite all the work involved it is worth it and you need to approach the job-hunting process with vigour, enthusiasm, positive attitude and a PLAN!

Make a plan

Planning how you intend to approach your job search will help immensely.

Break the tasks up into small manageable chunks and set a time limit to restrict how much time you will commit to job search each day. Fix a time limit that will suit the time you have available for this activity making allowances for valuable you/family time. Keep your plan realistic and do not overstretch yourself.

Know when to stop.

When your allocated time for job search is up, down your tools and stop. Focus your attention on something more relaxing. Perhaps take a walk, have a bath, read a book, watch television, spend time with your family or friends etc.

You will find it easier to relax when you know you have accomplished what you set out to do in terms of the time you set aside for job hunting. You do not need to feel guilty about not getting enough done as you will have done what you set out to do in terms of time.

Identify your priorities

Define your tasks according to those times when it is most practical to do them. For example: Sunday is a good day to look through classified ads. If you are networking and not full time employed then mornings during the week is a good time for this activity. You can use the afternoons to visit agencies.

Manage those around you

With regard to relationships at work and at home, keeping everyone in the 'loop' is usually more effective than being evasive. An employer will generally respect you for keeping him/her informed of your intentions to leave, as it will give them a chance to plan ahead. With regard to colleagues, there will be some who react well and others who may not. Manage this situation with tact and diplomacy and say only what is necessary. It is up to their manager to tell them what they think they need to know when the time arrives.

With regard to family, enlist their help and support. They can help you research and locate suitable vacancies and assist further by proof reading your CV/Resume (depending on their ages of course). Share out household chores so you don't have all the burden of everything that is going on at home and at work. Let extended family and friends know that you are looking for work and that this may mean that you don't see as much of them for a while, meanwhile make the most of them for any networking opportunities!

Join a job search support group

This is a great way to share the stress around but be sure not to take on anyone else's! Talking is very therapeutic and discussing the challenges of job search and helping each other can reduce your stress. It may even help to limit it to those sessions when you debrief with those that can relate to the pressure you feel under.

Manage your emotions

You don't have to dwell on negative emotions or thoughts, set your self a time limit for those too. Listen to uplifting music and watch inspiring and fun programmes on the television. Avoid anything sad or too challenging when in between tasks.

Thinking positively and being able to deal with difficult issues as they arise will aid you in you war against stress!