Stop Stress From Taking Control of Your Job Search

Don't let stress hijack job-search success.

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The French surgeon and biologist Alexis Carrel once said: "Those who do not know how to fight worry die young." The effects of letting anxiety control you includes less life-or-death consequences too, including negative effects on career. Uncontrolled anxiety and worry emerge most clearly during a job transition.

Regardless of experience, compensation level or industry, most job seekers experience some form of stress during their search. As a matter of fact, tension and worry are some of their most significant problems.

Stress hinders interviewing performance, negotiation ability and when it gets to a certain point, can result in people wanting to postpone and ignore the process altogether. To help lessen this career killer, Let's analyze why people stress over a job search, the negative effects that nervous feelings bestow upon us and some effective measures to combat anxiety and get the job you want.

Why Are Job Searches So Stressful?

Money is only part of the story. Often, most of the stress job seekers incur spawns from smaller and less noticeable sources. Most causes of anxiety are not even recognizable.

It begins with control. There is an inherent lack of control any individual has during the recruitment process. People who suffer significant stress during their job search are the people who tend to have more controlling personalities. Consider the following:

1. While searching for a job, you receive no feedback on why you're not invited to interview for a position or why you didn't receive a second or third interview.

2. You don't know who your competition is.

3. You are kept in the dark during interview phases. Human resources and hiring managers keep many cards close to their chests.

4. Uncontrollable events occur when dealing with a job search, including: economic shifts, internal hiring freezes, unexpected mergers and buyouts.

Stress often comes from lack of confidence, which comes from lack of practice. Ironically, the more successful someone is, the less frequently they tend to have to find a new position. Thus, they may not be very effective at managing their search. Sometimes the most productive job seekers are the worst employees. Practice makes perfect.

The Effects of Stress on Job Search Performance

If you let it get out of control, large amounts of anxiety and stress can have a snowball effect on your job search.

The most successful individuals focus on what they want to achieve and move straight toward that goal without veering off course. When you’re overwhelmed, that focus is no longer present.

Your ability to answer in-depth interview questions with thoughtful and intelligent responses lessens. As a result, the amount of rejection you face from hiring managers increases.

Your drive and resiliency begin to fade and the consistent rejection leads to pessimistic thinking. You start to think about all your past failures and focus less on what you’ve done correctly. Soon enough, all of your energy channels to negative thoughts and feelings and away from fulfilling personal ambitions.

Decreasing Anxiety and Increasing Effectiveness

While physical exercise, diet and proper sleep are key when it comes to managing stress, thought is supreme. If you can change your mind, you can change your stress levels as well as your ability to find the right job.

Begin to adopt a mental attitude from which you talk to yourself with courage, frankness and good cheer. Focus less on the problems that occur and put your energy into possible solutions. For instance, if you’re not being called in for interviews, change your résumé and cover letter or gain the necessary skills to become desirable to employers.

Don’t make every rejection a catastrophe; understand that you’re not going to get every job you go for. Turn letdowns into ambition instead of inaction.

If you find yourself in a real spiral of negativity and anxiety, it won't hurt to pick up a classic such as the book "How to Win Friends & Influence People," which is at its core is a manual on positive thinking and genuine relationships. If something less business-minded suits your reading tastes, a reputable cognitive behavioral therapy handbook can help reroute your negative self-talk into reality-based assessments about yourself and your job search.

In the End

Searching for a job can be a stressful proposition because of the high stakes. Even if you're searching while currently employed, the idea is that finding the right fit will improve your life. What's more important than that?

Rather than letting yourself get overwhelmed, allow yourself to feel invigorated. Working on your stress response to letdowns or anxiety-provoking situations will only improve the speed with which you complete your search and the quality of the position you're able to identify for your future.

It all starts with turning negative thoughts into positive ones and deciding to take control for yourself, rather than letting your anxiety or negativity control you.