Lessen the impact of job search anxiety with our top 11 tips

Moving houses. Going through a break-up. Finding a job.

These life events can be highly stressful, as they involve what many of us fear – change. Change can be frightening as you're unsure what's around the next corner. Just as not knowing what your neighbours will be like or how to cope with being single can cause worries, looking for a job can leave you with job search anxiety that could be hard to shake off. 

The three main reasons for job search anxiety

Is job search anxiety normal? Of course it is! You wouldn't be human if you didn't have some concerns over where your next pay packet was coming from. Anxiety, whether during the job search or in the workplace, is an uncomfortable feeling of worry or fear that everyone experiences one way or another. 

While you might thrive in the challenge of looking for a new job, there are valid reasons as to why you might find it a more stressful process. Below are the top three reasons for why your job search may be causing you anxiety:

1. Your to-do list has become overwhelming 

Applying for a role requires thought, organisation, and patience. You've got to collate a whole ream of documents, and focus your mind on something that might be quite alien to you. Then there's all the constant filling out of forms, updating your CV, and preparing for interviews. Gearing yourself up for all of this, when it might come to nothing, takes a lot of motivation and stamina.

2. You constantly worry about the uncertainty

Once you've applied for a position, you then have to wait to see if you've got an interview. You probably won't know when you'll hear back. This in itself can be a worrying time. And if you never hear back, this can further cause you to doubt your own abilities, and whether you're worth it.

3. You compare yourself to your competitors

During the application process, you have no idea who you're up against, or how your strengths compare to theirs. OK, so it might detail how many other applicants have applied for a particular role on the website, but that's it. You won't know their strengths, and this can create stress and increased job search anxiety.

11 tips for overcoming job search anxiety

So how do you stop worrying about finding a job? It's tricky, there's no question about it. But it can be done. Stop obsessing over your job search by taking practical steps that will alleviate any stress or anxiety. Check out these 11 practical tips on how to overcome job search anxiety:

1. Remain positive

This might be easier said than done, but staying as positive as possible throughout the process will work in your favour. It can take from a few days (if you're lucky!) to many months to find a job but hang on in there, as it will be worth it in the end.

Expert tip: Plan out a routine where you actively take a specific amount of time each day or week that's dedicated to searching for a new position.

2. Keep a perspective

Yes, you're going to get rejections; yes, you're going to get down-hearted; yes, you're going to be frustrated. But keep in mind that this won't last forever. Patience is the key. The amount of effort you put in will pay off in the end.

3. Be organised

Break down the whole process into smaller, more manageable chunks. Spend time updating your CV, then take a break, and turn to improving your cover letter. Drafting a plan that outlines your job search, including jobs applied for, can help, as you can clearly see which roles you've pinpointed. This also minimises the chance of applying for the same role twice by mistake!

Expert tip: File all important hard copies, such as your CV and portfolio, so they're easily accessible. Doing so can help you save valuable time and energy.

4. Research the exact role you want

Do your homework by being prepared, and researching the types of positions that really float your boat. Seek out those companies and cultures that might have the sort of role you're after, then learn as much about them as you can. This exercise will focus your mind, as you'll only then apply for positions that match you and your amazing skill set.

Expert tip: Check out the best YouTube channels when job hunting in 2024 for some added inspiration.

5. Craft a fabulous CV

TopCV has so much advice on how to write the perfect CV. Key things to remember here are to keep your CV relevant to the job applied for, free from errors, and within two pages (or one page if you've just graduated or are at entry level).

Expert tip: Save time by drafting a basic CV that can be tailored every time.

6. Carefully read through job descriptions

Rather than skimming through the job advert, spend the time to really focus on the job description, as this will grant you the most insight into what's required of you, and whether you'd be a good fit. There's probably no point in applying for a role that requires a Maths degree when your degree is English. Apply for those roles where you meet most of the requirements, as you're more likely to move further down the line towards landing the role at the end of the day.

7. Prepare for interviews

There's nothing wrong with being prepared way in advance! Even if you're at the start of your job hunt, you could land an interview straight away. You just need to nail those interview skills, so you come across as professional, focused, and ready to start! Consider staging a mock interview to boost your confidence, or gen up on typical interview questions, preparing your best answer to each one. Practice makes perfect, as they say.

8. Apply for numerous jobs simultaneously

You don't need to apply for one role, and wait until you hear back from that company before applying for another. The more applications you get out there, the better your chances are of securing an interview or offer of a job.

Expert tip: Caution is advised however, so don't apply for hundreds of positions at once, churning out applications every 10 minutes. Aim for between 10 and 15 applications a week.

9. Be aware of any stress triggers

Knowing yourself, and what ignites stress or any doubt creeping in, can help when it comes to perfecting your coping mechanisms. Identify the situations that can cause job search anxiety, anticipate how you'd react, and then highlight ways in which you can manage these. For example, if you know that not hearing back after an interview makes you really anxious and jittery, ask the interviewer, at the end of the interview, for a timeline of when you can expect to hear back. This should greatly reduce your anxiety, and help you to keep moving forward.

10. Phone a friend

Basically, ask for help. Expert advice, whether that's from recruiters, family members who've searched for jobs before, or friends with an insight into the job market, can go a long way towards easing any worries. Knowing you're not alone, or have people close to you who know what it's like, can be really comforting. Sharing any anxious feelings about the job search will also help you get through this period of your life.

11. Take time out

If you feel like giving up on your job search, that's a sign to take a break. Job search disappointment can weigh heavily on your mind, especially if you've already left your previous role, and there's no money coming in. Breathe… don't feel you have to be focused on this 24/7. Sure, your career is a big part of who you are, but hopefully you have a life as well! Go for a walk, visit friends, or indulge in a bit of retail therapy (or window shopping!) to take your mind off things for a while. Deliberately taking a break from your mobile phone or laptop will recharge your batteries, so you'll be raring to go next time you settle down at your desk to apply for a role.

Expert tip: Remember to be kind to yourself, and reward any successes that happen along the way.

How to face job search disappointment

Rejections can naturally aggravate your anxiety. But here's a reality check – chances are, you're not going to land the first job you apply for. You're likely to receive a few rejections along the way. And that's fine, there's no shame in that. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again, states the proverb. It's all about perseverance.

While it can be tough, it can also be a great learning curve. Navigate your way through job search disappointment with these handy hints:

  • Manage your emotions. Feeling upset or angry after being rejected is perfectly normal. Acknowledge how you feel, take stock, and then bring your focus back to the job search, so you don't dwell on what could have been.

  • Remain objective. Keep in mind that being rejected isn't about you personally. While you might fit the brief, and tick all the boxes, it could be that a candidate with slightly better qualifications was chosen, or the job was taken in-house.

  • Rise up from rejections. Learn from each rejection you get by reflecting on which key assets and qualifications the company was looking for, then evaluating your performance objectively, and identifying any areas for improvement. You can then take this knowledge to improve your job search strategy. There's a reason for everything, and that job you didn't get probably wasn't right for you anyway.

  • Take the chemistry of your brain into account. We naturally lean towards remembering more negative experiences than positive ones. If you recognise this as a thing, you can reject it, and move forward. It could be the stepping stone to finding just the right job for you.

Job search anxiety warning signs

Although experiencing anxiety during the job search is common, it should not lead to such distress that it significantly brings down the quality of your life. Take note of these anxiety warning signs, and seek out professional support when needed:

  • You find it difficult to drag yourself out of bed in the morning

  • You often feel helpless or worthless

  • You can't focus and are increasingly irritable, even at home

  • You procrastinate to an abnormal degree

  • You have no interest in doing things that used to make you smile

Breeze past job search anxiety

Feeling anxious while looking for a job is normal. Once you've faced and managed your fears, job search can become an exciting, learning journey for you. We'll leave you with these positive takeaways (that you can pin on your desk or bedside!) to keep you moving for when you feel like giving up on your job search:

  • Stay positive

  • Remain organised

  • Keep proactive

  • Don't lose heart

  • Seek out advice from those you trust and who are in the know

  • Remember, you'll get there in the end!

Job search anxiety can hinder your perspective. Let us help you get a true take on your CV by submitting it for a free CV review.

Recommended reading:

Related Articles: