April 5, 2010

Beating Job Search Burnout

If you’ve been looking for work for a while, you might be experiencing a touch of burnout. That’s the stage where you feel exhausted, overwhelmed by the routine or lack of results, or hopeless about reaching an end.

You keep trudging because you must, but the hope of achieving a goal has all but disappeared.

Cheery, huh? Well, no, burnout is anything but cheery. To add insult to injury, every task in job search is improved by having a chipper demeanor – which is very difficult to sustain when you’re feeling haggard and haunted.

What’s a person to do? Well, for starters, you need to deal with the burnout issue, so you can move forward in your job search again. Following are three steps that I have found to be helpful.

1. Seek support. In job search, it’s important to differentiate between your job search network and your support network. They are not the same! If you bring your emotional issues to a professional meeting, you will alienate people rather than attract them. Instead, think about your personal circle of friends, or about therapists or religious staff who can listen to you and provide perspective. Sharing the problem will lighten the load.

2. Change the process. Obviously, something isn’t going well in your search. Are you spending too much time on Internet job boards? Revising your resume without sending it out? Perhaps you’ve been applying for jobs that you’re over- or under-qualified for. Whatever is happening, it’s time to change the plan. Meet with a career counselor or job search strategist if you need fresh ideas, but don’t keep doing the same things if you’re not getting results.

3. Control the timeline. When a project seems both hopeless and endless, burnout is inevitable. It’s time to take charge of the situation by assigning an end date to your unemployment. Deciding when to be re-employed provides the project-planning impetus you need to set a pace for your contacts and other outreach. Just remember to identify a Plan B strategy, such as part-time work or retraining, that you will revert to if an offer hasn’t come through by your goal date.

Remember: Knowing that there will be an end to the process can help you pour the steam on for the job you want, while also preparing you mentally and emotionally for the next step if your primary job search doesn’t work.

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