There is no way to eliminate job search stress entirely, but here are twelve ways to minimize it.
1. Be realistic – this could take a while. Job searches usually take months, even in an improving market. Being realistic reduces stress. Fooling yourself increases it.
2. Develop a job search plan. Set smart goals and objectives, identify companies where you’d like to work, and set timelines for these goals. Make yourself accountable – to yourself. That’s a plan.
3. Eliminate and/or reduce expenses. When you don’t know where (or when) your next dollar will come from, it’s important to control where (and when) your dollars will go. Money troubles are plenty stressful; combined with job search stress, they could become serious health threats.
4. Devote time to the right activities. Do things that will pay off: writing a great resume, networking, targeting companies, taking courses or workshops to upgrade and update your skills. Productivity is a great stress reducer.
5. Get and stay organized, and make and keep a schedule. Organization is the operational key to success. Work on your time management and record keeping. Being organized when you’re not working is as important as when you are. Just as if you’re working, you need a schedule. Wake up early, plan your day, and stick to your routine.
6. Don’t go it alone. Job searching today is tough, tricky, and confusing. Seek help: a coach, mentor, support group, and advice from a trusted friend. They’ll not only help you with the issues, they’ll be there when you need to unload or lean on someone.
7. Take breaks. The tendency is to go non-stop – all day, every day. That’s foolish. It’s like distance running at sprint speed – the biggest mistake most candidates make. Take three breaks a day – walk the dog, play your guitar, read poetry, or exercise – and don’t search seven days a week. Refresh yourself.
8. Do things other than searching. Get together with friends, go to a museum, engage in your hobby. You need personal fulfillment, too. When you take a break from a task, you’re more refreshed when you get back to it.
9. Set one big goal – and lots of small ones. When you evaluate your progress each week, you’ll be able to tell yourself you met a lot of goals. There is nothing is better at reducing stress than meeting goals – and letting yourself celebrate them.
10. Keep healthy. Eat right, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. You are your most important asset, and you have to take care of that asset.
11. Laugh and smile each day. We’ve long known the importance of a sense of humor, but what good is it if you don’t nurture it? Go to a comedy club, find a clip of your favorite comedian on You Tube, read something funny, kid around with friends, take time to be silly, smile at a stranger. Keep laughing and smiling. All the other tips work out much better if you do.
12. There are no failures, just learning opportunities. Rejections, delays, and setbacks are not failures. They are opportunities to learn, to adjust, and to get those negative events out of the way. Consider them each just another step to success.
It’s just as important to work on the stress component of your search as it is to work on the technical aspects.