4 Keys to Managing Job Search Stress

Charlie Brown sitting on a log with speech bubble saying,

You would be very fortunate never to experience the stress of searching for a job at some point in your life.

Let’s face it: the reality of resume writing, networking, job searching, and interviewing can often leave our palms sweaty and mouth drier than the Sahara! The great news is—it doesn’t have to be this way. By applying the ‘4 P’s’, you can make the process of finding your next job a far more exciting and much less stressful and anxious experience.

  1. Prepare 

Planning is at the core of a successful job search, guiding your expectations and shaping a strategy to save wasting precious time, effort and opportunities.

  • Set realistic employment goals and manage your job search expectations realistically. Be prepared for it to take longer than you may hope. Recruitment processes can be lengthy (on average, the hiring process is 6-8 weeks), and in competitive job markets, there can be dozens (sometimes hundreds) of applicants for a single posting (more on sidestepping this below). Be open-minded to a variety of opportunities, as the job offered may not be the one you had envisioned, but can serve as a valuable opportunity to enter the workforce and gain vital skills and expertise on your way to the job you desire. The key is to simply get started!
  • Budget and manage your financials carefully. Often job search stress is compounded by financial pressures and obligations. Review your expenses and budget thoroughly. Review your costs—what can you cut down? What luxuries can you forgo until you find a job? What better deals can you strike with your service providers (insurance, utilities, banks, )—or can you shop around and secure a better deal? Once you’ve reviewed your outgoings, set a budget and stick to it. This exercise and discipline will help you manage your finances (which is a great habit to develop) and can continue to benefit you long after you’ve secured your new job. Take this opportunity to clean up your spending habits and look for ways to be savvier with your money.


While you are focused on looking for a job, it’s important not to forget to remain involved in groups and activities that not only keep your skills and experience fresh, but provide a source of relevant contacts advantageous to your job search.

Get involved with:

  • Volunteering at not-for-profit organisations, charities, education or community groups, places of work—the opportunities are endless! Talk to your Forrest Personnel Consultant about your options, contact organisations directly, or visit volunteering groups and boards such as Volunteer South West or Seek Volunteer.
  • Professional associations or memberships—keep up to date on what is happening in your industry, and equally as important, network!
  • Classes or training (either certified or community-based) to keep your skills and knowledge current. Nothing negative comes from adding to your professional inventory; meet others in your field and add valuable skills and training to your resume at the same time.
  • As mentioned above, there could be dozens or hundreds vying for one advertised position, but did you know at least 60% of jobs found are through networking rather than traditional job searching methods (advertisements)? Practice your networking skills (your ‘elevator pitch’, introductions, conversation), learn where to find the people you want to reach (e.g. are there ‘in person’ networking events you can attend, or perhaps online groups or LinkedIn?), and then start networking. Cast your net wide—tell friends, family, associates, old colleagues (read: everyone!) what sort of work you are looking for, and that you’re grateful for any connections to people who can give you advice or point you in the right direction.

 3. Persist 

Arguably the hardest part of all—maintaining positivity and persistence is a crucial element to the job search process. After all, you cannot secure a job if you stop applying for them! It can be difficult to maintain enthusiasm when you feel despair or rejection. The keys to keeping your momentum and energy are to:

Surround yourself with positive people. Don’t isolate yourself, or worse still, surround yourself with negative or unsupportive people. Seek company, counsel and support from people friends, family, old colleagues or contacts who provide you positive encouragement, helpful advice and partnership in accountability to help you stay on track and pick you up when motivation wanes.

  • Don’t take it personally. Remaining resilient after multiple knock-backs can be difficult at times, and seeds of self-doubt can begin to creep in. Take heart—the right job for you is out there, and persistence does pay off. If your current strategy isn’t working, don’t wait too long to change it. Try a different approach, have your resume double checked, practice your interviewing and networking skills.

 4.  Personal Care

You can’t perform at your best if you are going about your job search in a zombified haze!

Eat well, exercise and sleep. Not only key to a productive life, but also a productive job search. Maintain your health by making sure you eat well, get enough sleep each night and get some exercise—even a short walk around the block can reinvigorate your focus and energy.

  • Take down time and stay engaged in your passions and hobbies—searching for a job in itself can feel like a job, and it is important to take short breaks to refresh, regain focus, enthusiasm.

Seek professional support. If you are experiencing physical, mental, financial or relationship challenges that are holding you back from employment, make sure you seek professional help to support you in overcoming these obstacles.