Skip to main content

Beating job search burnout

Build a strategy and be patient.

Beating job search burnout

Looking for a job is hard work. And like any work you do, it can burn you out if you go about it the wrong way. One of the best ways to avoid job-search burnout is to have a strategy — don’t just send out reams of résumés in the hopes of getting a call back from somebody. That will just make you feel desperate.

Steve Langerud is a workplace culture consultant who has worked with a client on a job search that started to drag on. “The longer it went, the more desperate he became to just have work,” Langerud says. “When we touched base again, it was clear he had moved far from his original purpose and was now entertaining every option with equal energy.”

Langerud says the two refocused the client’s efforts. After a month, he was offered the short-term position of his dreams, and after two months in this position, he landed a lucrative consulting position. “Currently, he is negotiating between two full-time opportunities that are both consistent with his defined purpose and provide him with the lifestyle he wishes,” Langerud says.

As part of that strategy, write a job-seeking mission statement that is supported by your top professional and personal values, says Nina Cashman, career coach and founder of Pave Your Way. “Only apply for jobs that match the value you have to offer, in addition to the values you seek to exemplify within your work,” she says.

Here are four more ways to beat job-search burnout.

Create a routine

Creating a routine with manageable steps can keep yourself organized, accountable and motivated, says Lauren McGoodwin, founder of Career Contessa. She recommends setting up a daily routine that is one part job search and one part something you like.

“Back when I was on the hunt, I would carve out one hour on three weekday mornings to search for jobs, drink tea and leave my phone out of sight,” she says. It’s important to incorporate something you like into your routine to balance the stress of searching and applying, she says.

Take strategic breaks

"All job seekers need down time, and to take time to rejuvenate and have fun," says Karen Evans, director of the Career Development Center at Albright College. While looking for work should be treated like a job in itself, that doesn't mean you need to devote all your time to the task, she says. “Take time to pursue personal projects and to connect or reconnect with friends, family and colleagues.”

Rewards can help keep you motivated as well, McGoodwin says. It might be as simple as giving your brain the night off from thinking about job searching, or it might be something more tangible, such as a special event out, she says. “It’s important to celebrate the progress you’re making, and remind yourself that you are moving forward even if you don’t have an offer letter in hand.​”

Make connections

Tapping into your network can take away a lot of the grind of looking for a job. Connect with friends and former co-workers over social media or on the phone to see what you can offer them, says Dom Bokich, interview coach, recruiter and author of “Your Dream Job.” Getting your name and value out there can put you in the right place at the right time.

Be patient

“Remember that job searching is a process, not an event,” says Christy Hanson, director of the Career and Professional Development Center at Messiah College. Finding a position that is a good fit for you and your employer takes time and energy, no matter how strong your qualifications are, she says. “Maintain a positive attitude, and believe that the right opportunity will come along."


Back to top