The Waiting Game: Surviving Job Offer Anxiety

Woman waiting for a job offer looks at her phone

Have you ever felt like you totally rocked an interview? You had all your questions and answers prepared, the hiring manager really seemed impressed, and they even hinted at a callback. You wake up the next morning with a huge grin on your face expecting an email or a phone call, but you receive nothing. No worries, right? “They will probably get back to me tomorrow," you think to yourself.

However, tomorrow comes and goes, as does the next day and the day after that, all without a phone call or an email. Days turn into a week, and you begin to get a bit antsy. Hope starts to dwindle as the questions begin to mount.

  • What's taking so long?
  • Was my interview not as good as I thought?
  • Did I say something wrong?
  • Did I misread the cues?
  • Was my writing sample terrible?
  • Should I send another email?
  • Why haven't they called me back?

As time goes on, you are consumed by these questions and can think of nothing else. This is a dangerous time for any job seeker. This inner state of turmoil is often referred to as job offer anxiety.

How Should You Deal With Anxiety While Waiting For A Job Offer?

The first step to dealing with job offer anxiety is understanding what it is and why you're experiencing it. Usually, there are five reasons why a job seeker might be struggling with job offer anxiety: they're forgetting to continue their job search, they're suffering from restlessness and insomnia, they lack perspective, they're not sure when to follow up with the hiring manager, and/or they lack confidence in their resume.

How Long Is Reasonable To Wait For A Job Offer?

You're likely to hear back about a job offer a week or two after your final job interview with the company. If you haven't heard back from the hiring manager after two weeks, you should send a follow-up email. As always, remember to continue your job search while waiting for a job offer.

What Is Job Offer Anxiety?


Job offer anxiety is the anxiousness and stress one feels usually while waiting for an interview or a callback. This anxiousness is frequently accompanied by tense behavior and rumination. People who suffer from this are in a never-ending search to discover why they haven't received an interview/callback when everything seemed promising.

In a struggle to answer this question, job seekers start to second-guess their interview and writing skills as each day passes. They blame themselves for not getting the call and their confidence all but disappears. Job offer anxiety can even affect job seekers after they have received an offer.

For instance, a job seeker may receive a job offer that happens to be their second choice. The question of whether to accept the offer or wait for their first choice now arises. This may cause unnecessary panic in the applicant which can lead to a misguided decision. Even just waiting for a callback is extremely destructive to the job search. You end up losing focus and wasting valuable time that could be spent pursuing other job opportunities.

If you have ever suffered from job offer anxiety, have no fear. Here are some specific causes of job offer anxiety and ways to overcome them...

Cause #1 - Forgetting To Continue The Job Search


The solution: Apply for other jobs.

This advice seems obvious, but many people become so focused on the callback that they forget about the end goal: getting a job.

What better way to distract yourself than to continue looking for other jobs? Continuing your job search allows you to take your mind off the callback and get back to using your time wisely. Sitting around and waiting for the perfect job to get back to you isn't productive and won't get you anywhere closer to realizing your goal.

And who knows? While you are being focused and productive, time will pass a lot more quickly and you might finally get that callback you were waiting for, and if not, at least you expanded your job opportunities.

Cause #2 - Restlessness And Insomnia


The solution: Exercise.

All that stress and anxiety can inflict heavy damage on your body and overall health. Those at WebMD recommend people with high anxiety "relieve tension with vigorous exercise or massage." The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found that "regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem."

When it comes to reducing stress and anxiety, exercise should not be overlooked.

Cause #3 - Lack Of Perspective


The solution: Realize that HR is on a different time frame than you.

There is no doubt that when searching for a job time seems to creep by at a snail's pace. Some like to believe hiring managers sit at their desks with an evil smirk, tapping their fingers together (think Mr. Burns from The Simpsons), purposefully making candidates wait in despair.

It's easy to forget that employers may have responsibilities other than hiring candidates. Hiring managers would love nothing more than to get through all the applicants in a timely manner. But like every job, things tend to pop up unexpectedly that require immediate attention. It's important to remember this, take a deep breath, and give the hiring manager the benefit of the doubt.

Cause #4 - Not Sure When To Follow Up


The solution: Use proper follow-up etiquette.

It's important to remember that the interview doesn't end until you have sent a follow-up thank-you note. Susan Adams of Forbes advises applicants to send a follow-up letter as soon as possible. If you wait too long, other prospective employees might beat you to it.

While sending a handwritten note is a nice thought, it takes much too long for the employer to receive it. So email is always the best choice for sending your follow-up thank-you note. It's also a nice touch if you add a high point from the interview in your message.

However, even after the follow-up thank-you letter, applicants can still find themselves without a response. In this case, it is appropriate to follow up again.

In "4 Things You Need To Do After The Interview To Get The Job," Sudy Bharadwaj believes that periodically following up every few weeks is a great way to stay on the hiring manager's mind. He recommends, "Instead of asking, 'Have you made a decision yet?' forward a recent article you've read that you believe he'll find interesting and helpful. Following up in this way demonstrates that you're a great network connection instead of a pesky wannabe employee."

Cause #5 - Lack Of Confidence In Your Resume


The solution: Check if you made common resume mistakes and/or get your resume reviewed by trained coaches.

One last measure to reduce stress and anxiety during the job search is to make sure your resume is in tip-top shape. Knowing that your resume is up to par can be a great boost to your confidence.

An excellent way to get some tips on your resume is to pass it out to your friends and colleagues. They might be able to bring some fresh ideas to your resume and suggest edits to improve it.

We hope you found these tips for overcoming job offer anxiety to be helpful, no matter where you are in your career. And remember...only worry about the things you can control. You'll avoid a lot of stress and anxiety this way!

We know how difficult it is to overcome anxiety in your job search. If you're struggling to find a job, we're here for you.

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