Reducing and managing stress is one of the keys to a successful search. Too much stress and you appear desperate. Not enough and people question your motivation. Only you can decide how much stress is the right amount! Here are seven steps you can take to significantly lower stress, improve your effectiveness, and ultimately shorten your job hunt.
1. Have a realistic understanding of how long a job search takes. As a general rule of thumb figure it will take anywhere from a week (on the high side) for every $1000 of income to a month (on the low side) for every $10,000 of income. Many job seekers have an unrealistic timeframe for finding their next job. It always takes longer than you think. When you don’t have a realistic expectation for how long it can take it is easy to feel stressed out.
2. Develop a job search action plan. Map out where you want to go and how you are going to get there. Set specific daily and weekly goals; then develop a contingency plan for when Plan A doesn’t work. Once your plan is in place and you are emotionally prepared – take action!
3. Reduce unnecessary expenses immediately. Minimizing financial responsibilities and maximizing financial resources will significantly reduce stress. This is not the time to take your dream vacation. The greater your financial resources the more flexibility you have to accept the right job offer rather than grabbing the first one that comes along.
4. Think of your job search as a job. Devote as much time to it as you would to a job. Consider all of the extra hours you spent working in a job you didn’t particularly like. Isn’t it worth spending twenty-five to forty hours a week looking for work you will enjoy?
5. Spend time on the right activities. Do spend time developing high quality marketing materials – like a résumé, fact sheet, and reference list; networking with friends and colleagues who can connect you to the right people or opportunities; and following up with potential employers. Don’t spend hours on the internet searching job boards for the ‘right’ job. Instead use the internet to research organizations, gain information about specific industries, and network with people who can assist with your search.
6. Evaluate your progress on a weekly basis. Stay on top of your search so that you can tell immediately if your search starts to stall and take steps to get it back on track. Assess what is working – do more of it. Determine what isn’t working and revise your approach. If you are still stuck consider working with a career coach.
7. Take time to refresh your mind, body, and soul. Looking for a job, especially when you don’t have one, is something you carry around 24/7. Remind yourself to set regular office hours and knock off at a reasonable hour. That includes taking time off on the weekends. Take a walk, go to the gym, escape with a good book, or have coffee with a friend.