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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

How to Stay Sane When Waiting to Hear Back About a Job You Really, Really Want

You’ve found it: the dream job. Not just that, but you made through the final round of interviews. Now, all you have to do is wait.

And it’s killing you.

OK, you’re not literally dying. But it’s all you can think about. You rehash every interview answer as you lay in bed at night. You check your email so much that you have to bring a phone charger with you everywhere you go. You’re checking your spam filter every 30 minutes and texting your mom (or your significant other, or your BFF, or whomever will let it slide) hourly about whether or not you’ve heard back.

And then you realize: This is not sustainable. Hiring processes can drag on, and you’re going to need to keep being a person in the meantime.

To get through this time—sanity and relationships and current job intact—I suggest these complementing strategies:

Really Go There, Sometimes

Some of the time, you have to let yourself be freaking-out excited. You can’t keep that bottled up (I know I can’t).

I choose “me time” as the time when I let my mind wander and imagine what that new position would be like. I imagine it all: the job title, what I’d wear on my first day of work, and even how excited my Facebook friends would be for me when I announce that I have a new opportunity I’m really thrilled about.

I visualize it while I’m cleaning, commuting, working out: I get it out my system. And if visualization is powerful, I figure, I might as well have that on my side, too.

Stay Present the Rest of the Time

The rest of the time, I tell myself, “OK, Sara, you had your moment today to consume yourself with thoughts of your dream gig, now let’s focus on the task at hand.”

Again, it’s natural that your mind will wander to the application process, so I do all I can to make my days and tasks really structured. This is not a good day to brainstorm at work (if you can avoid it): It’s a good day to execute multi-step tasks. When it’s time to cook dinner, might I suggest a recipe you’ll screw up unless you focus on getting it right?

It’s also a great time to connect with friends and family—and specifically ask how things are going with them. Not only will it distract you: It’ll give them a nice reprieve if all they’ve heard about for the last three months is your search.

Think About Next Steps

Staying calm isn’t just good for you—and your relationships. If you need a job-centric reason, remember, it’s important to your candidacy, too. If you do get offered the position, you’re going to want your nonchalant game face handy. (If you’re 100% excited, 100% of the time, you may 100% say “yes” to the very first offer and forget to negotiate your salary.)

And that’s not all. It’s important to keep living your life because (spoiler: buzzkill), there’s a chance you won’t get it. And if your life has been one big obsession with how it’s going to change with this new opportunity, you’re going feel the sting of not getting the role even more. (Yep, I’ve been there, too, and it sucks.)

So, take some time to consider everything you did right to that point. Did you take a risk with your cover letter that paid off? Maybe you asked different questions in your interview? Or maybe, you’re realizing that all of the hard work you’re doing at your current company really is impressive and you’re in a different league than you were on your last job search. All of these things will help you go far—and means you won’t be back at square one—even if you have to start looking again in a few weeks.

Give each reaction it’s own proper space and time. If you feel yourself obsessing, remember: It’s OK to freak out sometimes, but also give yourself enough credit to know that you can keep your emotions in check and be patient other times, too.

Photo of woman waiting courtesy of Shutterstock.