Burnout. You probably know the dangers of burnout, but do you also realize that you can become burned out from a job search?
Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that can result from chronic stress. It often leads to cynicism, detachment, a lapse in accomplishments, and feelings of ineffectiveness. According to HelpGuide.org, “When you’re burned out, problems can seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak, and it’s difficult to muster up the energy to care – let alone do something about your situation.”
However, left unaddressed, burnout can threaten your relationships, your health, and your career, not to mention your job search. So, how can you prevent or heal job search burnout? Here are eight strategies to consider:
1. Leverage technology
Use a wide range of technologies, software, and apps to enable you to work smarter and job search less time each day without sacrificing results.
- Use job lead aggregators, for example, to eliminate the task of manually searching for open positions on job boards – let automated searches do the work for you and deliver relevant lists to your inbox.
- Organize your search and networking to-dos with tools such as JibberJobber that simplify critical follow-up tasks.
- A simple tool such as the canned emails feature on Gmail allows you to strategically re-use email messages over and over again without having to rewrite them.
- Discover 35 apps and tools that can save you hours of time each week in your career search.
2. Batch activities to streamline your job search workload
In other words, combine apples with apples and oranges with oranges – capitalize on mental synergies by doing similar job search activities at the same time.
- Reply to emails and voice mails in the same period of time since both tasks require similar intellectual energies and will often utilize the same information.
- Do all of your resume tailoring for the day at the same time.
- Chunk your relationship-building with recruiters and hiring managers into the same time period so you can re-use messages and resources when relevant.
- Complete a week’s worth of content curation within a few hours so you can quickly access curated material when you’re ready to batch emails to recruiters.
3. Say no
Set limits with others and yourself. Know what you can manage and ensure you take on no more than that.
- Say no to more projects or honey-do assignments. Being unemployed does not mean you have endless time to get things done around the house. Make your search a priority without sacrificing your personal relationships, but make sure you set limits on how many extra projects you can complete.
- Say no to workaholism. Job searching more than 30-35 hours per week is counterproductive. By exhausting yourself week-after-week you will inadvertently rob yourself of energy when you need it most – for job interviews and salary negotiations (not to mention starting your new job). I suggest working no more than 4 days weekly in your search so you can take every Friday as a “me” day. Use that time to invest in yourself personally and professionally. One of my clients goes golfing every Friday, for example, which gets him away from his computer. He gets exercise, invests in networking relationships, and returns to his search the following Monday with a renewed perspective.
- Say no to too many social contacts. There is no way to do it all when you’re in active search mode. You may have to say no to attending select get-togethers or professional association meetings. Choose the ones you do attend wisely and spread them out through the course of the month. While it’s critical to stay in touch with people and professional organizations in your search, it is possible to overdo both. Know what you need and let go of the rest.
4. Know when enough is enough
How many job applications should you complete every week in your search? How many recruiters should you contact? How many times? How many LinkedIn invitations to connect should you send? When it comes right down to it, most of your job search to-dos can be boiled down to a series of simple metrics.
- Create a job search dashboard so you have specific goals to work toward each week and know when they are complete. Set achievable, realistic targets for every area of your search.
- Use those targets to create a weekly job search action plan. This directs your job search activity a week at a time and helps you to sustain momentum month-by-month.
- From your weekly job search action plan extract daily to-dos and monitor your output and success. Make it a habit to start and end each job search day by reviewing and updating your search metrics.
5. Invest in yourself & your career
A career search is the perfect time to invest in reflection and growth, both personally and professionally.
- Take time out to earn a new certification, take a professional development course, or finally enroll in that MBA program you’ve been wanting to pursue.
- Explore your passions. Revitalize your energies by indulging in beloved hobbies or work-related interests. Read books, journals, and articles. Start a blog. Write guest posts for others’ blogs.
- Invest in your values. What is most important to you in your work or life? Invest time or energy in family, relationships, friends, or favorite activities. Take a vacation, preferably toward the beginning or end of your search.
- Have fun. Now is the time to play and recreate more. Reserve a little fun for each day and a little more each Friday. And role model that self-care by weaving more fun into your weekends with your loved ones, too. Your kids and your spouse will thank you.
6. Shift paradigms
Most job seekers have an inherent “me, me, me” attitude. Shift that to a “give, give, give” mentality to transform your search results.
- Instead of pummeling your network with requests, trying giving valuable ideas, suggestions, resources, and aid.
- Rather than trying to grab the attention of recruiters, why not earn it by giving them leads, strategic industry information, and recruiting resources?
- Stop pursuing hiring executives and refocus to building long-term relationships with them. Invest in their interests, learn about their problems, and suggest solutions. Interest in you and your candidacy is sure to follow.
7. Take a break. (Or 2. Or 3.)
Research shows us that we all need breaks in our work approximately every 90 to 120 minutes. Likewise, we need longer breaks on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.
- Take breaks every 1.5 to 2 hours throughout your job search days. Make sure you switch mental gears. Get away from your computer and all technology for 15 to 30 minutes each day.
- Plan at least a full hour break daily. Get totally away from technology for that period and engage in activities that utilize different parts of your brain.
- Change up your “work” locations. Conduct your search from your back porch, the beach, or your favorite coffee shop at least once a week.
8. Keep your search in perspective
Yes, your career search is important, even vital. But let’s face it, it’s not more important than the rest of your life. For most of us, there are other things that are much, much more important.
- Take time out to remember your priorities in the midst of an extended job search. Remember your “big whys” – why the search is important to you and why it’s important to your family. Reconnect with what matters and gives meaning to your life.
- Take care of your social needs. Not all of your social engagements have to be about networking, so make sure you hang out with friends and family and participate in neighborhood get-togethers. Don’t avoid social contact because you don’t have a job (do set limits on how much you will talk about your search and what you will say, though; otherwise these social outings will discourage you).
By leveraging practical solutions, setting healthy boundaries, and establishing rational expectations for your search, you can heal burnout or, better yet, prevent it from happening in the first place. And the even better news? Any or all of these same strategies will help you fend off burnout in your career as well.
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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