How to Fend Off Job-Search Addiction

Stepping away from the job-search game can help you reestablish your career and life priorities.

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Andrew G. Rosen
Do you find yourself searching for a job—even when you’re relatively happy with the one you have? Most of us keep our eyes out for jobs that would cause us less stress, but if you're constantly looking when you don't need to, you might have a problem.

Signs of job-search addiction include:

  • Feeling like you must visit job boards daily or several times a day
  • Failing in your attempts to stop visiting job boards
  • Doing things you wouldn't normally do to access job boards (like hijacking Wi-Fi on your vacation)
  • Feeling like job boards help you deal with even minor problems at work
  • Focusing more and more time and energy searching for jobs
  • Sound familiar? Fear not! We're about to go Dr. Drew on you and get you into recovery. Here’s how to spot trouble and correct it:

    Warning Sign #1: Repetition

    If you find yourself conducting the same job search every day, several times a day, you’ve got a problem.

    Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Sure, the job posts change, but if you’ not getting any bites, you’re clearly doing something wrong.

    Tip: Schedule a block of time to conduct your job search. Limit it to once every several days and set a time limit on each session.

    [See 10 Ways to Make Any Job Healthier.]

    Warning Sign #2: Succumbing to Desperation

    If you’re applying for jobs that you’re under- or over-qualified for, you’re only wasting time. You might be ready to make a pact with the devil to escape your impossible boss, but being unrealistic about the type of job you want is a recipe for disaster. Asking, “Should I quit my job?” when you don’t have another lined up can be dangerous.

    Tip: Write down a list of must-haves for your next job. Indicate title, location, salary, and any other important factors. Keep this list handy and refer to it as you decide which jobs to apply for.

    Warning Sign #3: Forgetfulness

    If you’re applying for jobs, getting callbacks, and are clueless to what job the hiring manager is referring to, then you’re applying for too many jobs.

    If you don't remember which version of your resume you sent, you’re applying for too many jobs.

    If you can't list the jobs you've applied for in the past week off the top of your head, then, you guessed it: you’re applying for too many jobs!

    Tip: Apply for fewer jobs, but put more effort into each application. Find creative ways to follow up with potential employers and customize your cover letter for each posting. Make each application count.

    [See How Morning Exercise Can Boost Your Career.]

    Warning Sign #4: Searching for Jobs After Hours

    You spent half of your daylight hours looking for a new job, and now it's 3 a.m. and you're still looking. Even though logic tells you that the HR representatives are not up at this hour posting new positions, you still search the job boards again.

    Tip: Let go of the fear that you missed an ad for your “dream job” and get some sleep; it'll be better for your career. In this 24/7 world, each of us worries we’ll miss an awesome opportunity. Might a new job appear while you’re taking a break? Absolutely. Will you lose out by not being the first to apply? Unlikely. And if you do, it's probably not the type of place you want to work anyway.

    [For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers.]

    Sometimes we need to step away from the job-search game to reestablish our career and life priorities. If you think you might be suffering from job-search addiction, take some time for yourself and steer clear from the job boards for a while. They'll be there when you're ready to jump back in—guaranteed.

    Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of Jobacle.com, a career advice blog. He is also the author of How to Quit Your Job.