Seeking new employment is stressful. Regardless of qualifications, experience, finesse or other capabilities, searching a job causes anxiety and stress. It affects the overall performance of a job seeker at interviews, psychometric and other tests. It hinders personal life. Several factors contribute towards anxiety related to job search.
Defining anxiety and its types
The US government’s National Institute of Mental Health offers this astute definition of anxiety: “Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test or making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear.
For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Examples include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder."
Job search related anxiety
NIMH’s definition elucidates, job search related anxiety is occasional. It manifests during the entire span of job search process – from application to the first day at work. Anxiety levels are severe among unemployed yet qualified, experienced job applicants.
Fresh graduates have moderate job search related anxieties, a research in the UK reveals. Unemployed suffer more due to financial and social problems caused by joblessness. Uncertainty causes anxiety among fresh graduates searching jobs.
Job search related anxiety is lowest and almost negligible among people of all ages looking to change employers, due to financial and social stability they enjoy.
Lowering anxiety levels
Anxiety is healthy up to a certain degree. It helps job seekers remain alert, exert extra efforts and gain more skills to remain competitive.
Unhealthy anxiety has severe adverse effects. Job searchers may run into both of depression, mood swings, and unwarranted despair.
Left untreated, may lead to suicidal tendencies and prove fatal. Preventing deleterious anxiety is essential.
Step-1: Never fudge your biodata/ Curriculum Vitae
Embellishing biodata by adding or withholding details is the primary cause of job search related anxiety. The lurking fear of being found and disqualified worries most job seekers. People doctor biodata and CVs for two reasons. To show they are better qualified for the job over others, or, to conceal unpleasant facts.
An increasing number of employers now conduct background checks. Fudged details can be easily detected. To avoid anxiety during job searches, never embellish your biodata. Companies never look at your past and are least concerned unless it directly impacts them adversely. Employers are interested in what you can deliver.
Step-2: Apply while employed
Being unemployed can be very unpleasant. It causes financial, social hardships. People frown upon qualified persons who, for any reason, are unemployed. Pressures to maintain a fixed lifestyle with no guarantees of income causes severe anxiety among job seekers. Such anxiety can easily be eradicated.
Apply for a new job while employed. Doing so helps to maintain your financial and social status. You also retain the advantage of bargaining for better pay and perks with any prospective employer. If unemployed, draw a budget to buffer days without income.
Step-3: Upgrade your skills
Whether working or unemployed, it is vital to keep your skills updated at all times. A new set of skills might not help your current employer. Yet, they give you an edge over other applicants for the same job.
Companies look for multi-taskers and employees with better soft skills. Knowing you are on a higher plane over competitors plays a big role in lowering and preventing job search anxieties.
Step-4: Stop praying for a job
Before screaming sacrilege, think yourself. Ceasing to pray for a job is essential to prevent job search anxieties. Nobody doubts the innate benefits of praying and dependence upon a divine power.
Prayers are encouraged at all times and are indeed healthy. For those spiritually inclined- remember, the divine power is responsible and promises to suffice your genuine needs.
Unanswered, delayed replies to prayers are known to cause immense frustration. Several applicants get habituated to incessant praying instead of focusing on realities required in the job market.
Step-5: Simulate work conditions
This is an ideal way to prevent anxiety during a job search. Unemployed or fresh job seeker, draw a schedule that resembles a typical working day. Wake up, sleep, have meals at fixed hours. Assign specific hours for job searches and application, regardless of whether you use a computer at home or at cyber café.
Set realistic targets for the number of job searches and applications you intend to achieve within eight ‘working’ hours. Go about achieving this target. Such schedule also helps respond instantly to any interview calls.
Step-6: Focus on mental, physical wellness
Unhealthy lifestyle is notorious for fuelling anxiety and stress. Unemployed and fresh job seekers often spend long hours sleeping or indulging in ungainful activity.
Your physique and face betray such lifestyle clearly to interviewers. Maintaining healthy lifestyle and diet helps prevent a build-up of excess brain and body hormones triggered by stress.
Exercises, yoga, walks and other activities keep job search related anxiety at bay. Reading stuff unrelated to jobs, helping at home, spending quality time with relatives and friends is excellent to stave off anxiety.
Step-7: Focused, purpose-driven targeting
Nowadays most job searches are conducted online. Applicants scour multiple job sites for vacancies. They upload CV and other details on these websites. Mobile apps alert applicants about new vacancies and allow applications at push of a button.
The flip side however is, job alerts sent by recruiter websites are frequently irrelevant, causing unwarranted stress and anxiety. They waste your time and effort.
When applying through recruitment websites, be extremely specific about the type of job you want. This increases chances of getting alerted to the perfect vacancy fast. Avoid unnecessary keywords while registering on employment portals.
Think out of the box
Remember, anxiety stems from imagination gone rancid. Left unchecked, it can putrefy into severe mental handicap that requires psychiatric intervention. Crime statistics worldwide clearly indicate unemployment and inability to find job leads to suicide.
A few also take to crime. Joblessness is a temporary phase that affects everyone’s life. It is not peculiar to you. Job search related anxiety is common and inflicts millions worldwide.
Go that extra mile
Keeping in touch with former colleagues is an excellent way to get rid of job search related anxiety. Visit offices of others operating in your profession to get acquainted with latest developments. Joining profession specific groups on social media helps bolster sagging confidence.
Advantages of goal setting
While searching for jobs, set goals about the size and type of company you wish to work. Resolve never to undersell your skills, regardless of the time taken to land that perfect job. It is wiser to stay unemployed for a few weeks more rather than take undesirable work.
Well prepared is key to success
Some degree of anxiety during job searches is caused by complacency on part of applicants. Leaving fine details until the last minute before an interview/ test causes unwarranted stress. Keep your certificates, references and other documents prepared before you commence applying.
Exploit the social media
A crisp page on LinkedIn and healthy Facebook profile can decide who hires you. Employers are increasingly looking at social media presence of prospective employees, despite inherent disadvantages. LinkedIn particularly helps you network with others in your chosen profession and fetches you vital tips and tweaks essentially to crack complex interviews and tests.
Pritam Nagrale is a blogger and running a digital marketing company in Mumbai. He writes on Career, Business, Make Money Ideas.
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