I bet you’ve lost count of the number of times your job search has been so insanely difficult that it made you want to do nothing but eat a gigantic bowl of ice cream. And if that’s the case, I get it. Looking can be stressful, and there’s no getting around the fact that it’s rarely what most people would consider “fun.”
But still, there are plenty of things about the process that you may or may definitely be blowing out of proportion. And as a card-carrying member of the “Make Everything a Big Deal Club” myself, I know a few things about how a minor mistake on an application can keep you up late at night.
So, in an effort to help you sleep better at night, here are a few things you should stop stressing about:
1. The Number of Jobs You Apply for Every Day
When you need to find a job ASAP, it’s common to assume that you’ll have a better chance if you apply to as many openings as humanly possible. I understand the urge and I’ve certainly done this, too. But here’s how that worked out for me: I often hit my daily “goal” and ended up interviewing for a bunch of gigs that I didn’t really want. In other words, I was wasting my time.
What to Do Instead
What ended up working for me was somewhat counterintuitive. I took a few minutes at the beginning of my day to remind myself what kinds of jobs I’d be excited to accept. (I did this in my head, but I’ve heard of people who literally write it out on a Post-it note and stick it on their fridge.) Once I did that, I’d only let myself apply for openings that checked everything off on my mental list. This way, at the end of the day, I felt productive—regardless of whether I’d applied for one job or 15 jobs.
2. The Amount of Time it Takes a Company to Respond
Sure, if you’re in the middle of the interview process with a company and the hiring manager’s leaving you on the hook for weeks on end, you have every right to be annoyed. But in my experience, I hear from a lot of friends who say, “Rich, it’s been two days since my last interview. Either I’m the world’s worst candidate or this company is so incredibly rude for not getting back get to me.”
There are a lot of reasons that a company might not respond as quickly as you’d prefer, but it doesn’t always mean that you’re out of the running for the position—and it’s definitely not worth getting upset about.
What to Do Instead
If it’s been a week and you’re curious about where you stand—which is fair!—take career coach Jenny Foss’ advice on how to follow up after the interview. Rather than asking whether or not you’ve been eliminated from consideration, consider forwarding along an article that’s relevant to a conversation you had in your interview. This shows interest in the industry and in the position. And even if you’re not the right fit, you’ll leave a positive impression on the hiring manager.
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3. How Long It’s Taking Overall
Nobody goes into a job search thinking that it’d be great if it lasted for a very long time. It’s only natural to hope that you’ll find your next gig as soon as possible.
And to panic about what it means when that doesn’t happen. Suddenly you start to believe you’re not good enough to do anything, or perhaps worse, you resign yourself to applying to roles you’re not even interested in.
What to Do Instead
There’s no silver bullet answer to shortening your search, but there are certainly a few steps you can take. For starters, you can vent about it to someone who loves you enough to listen to you vent. Sometimes having a real human being to share your frustrations with will help you think through things more clearly. After all, it’s harder to jump to huge conclusions when you’re speaking aloud.
Then, if you are truly worried it’s you, you can try to pinpoint the problem. Are you applying to lots of openings and not getting any interviews? Read this. Are you getting interviews but not offers? Check this out. Are you worried it’s something super specific about you? Hire a coach who’s made a career out of helping people land their dream jobs.
I’m not suggesting that you should dismiss all the stress you feel because you need to find a job. In fact, if I could buy you dessert and tell you it’ll be OK in person, I would do that right now. But the reality is that some of the things you’re stressing about aren’t actually as bad as you think they are.
And knowing is half the battle. So take a deep breath, think of how you can take back some of the control over the things that are bothering you, and keep plugging away at that job search.
Photo of person stressed at home courtesy of Peathegee Inc/Getty Images.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy or follow his blog.More from this Author