Windy road in the middle of the desert

The bumpy road of job hunting – and how to navigate it

The bumpy road of job hunting – and how to navigate it

Posted on February 2021 By Nicholas Farley

Windy road in the middle of the desert

We’re in the business of helping people with their career aspirations and conducting their job search at Stopgap, and for most people, the hunt for new opportunities is something they will experience at least once a decade

The search for a new role can be exciting; with the potential of new opportunities and broadening your career horizons, but also it can be a time for anxiousness and uncertainty.

The likelihood is, you’ll experience the full scale of these emotions – highs and lows, and in some instances in the space of a week or even a single day. You might get the feeling that the interview went well and be on top of the world, and then be massively disappointed to find out an application was unsuccessful. On the flip side, you might be unhappy that you didn’t perform to your potential in an interview, and then relieved when you get the call to progress to the second round.

Even for the strongest candidates, the process is likely to be littered with peaks and troughs. This, in combination with uncertainty and no clear indication of what is next is a challenging prospect. So, here are five tools to navigate the emotional rollercoaster that is the hunt for a new role:

Preparation is key!

The process of finding a new opportunity has no fixed length – for some, it can be a few weeks, but many will search for upwards of a few months (and now with the effects of COVID-19, some people may be closing in on a year). It’s almost guaranteed there will be highs and lows, meetings and interviews one week will have you feeling hopeful, then negative feedback – or worse, no feedback – can lead to feelings of frustration, confusion and helplessness. Preparing from day 1 of your job search and anticipating the bumps in the road will help you handle them better when they present themselves. Therefore, when you encounter the difficulties of feeling low and maybe the prospect of rejection – you will have told yourself it is something you’ll experience on the journey. If your prepared for when it comes, you can rebound better by not making it personal, and you will be less surprised and shaken, helping you carry on with the search.

Tackle the emotions

There is a lot that can be said about things like meditation to help you deal with processing the complex emotions that come up when job searching. This practice, along with journaling, can help you embrace your emotions and allows us to process them and move forward more effectively. It also means you aren’t suppressing or avoiding the difficult emotions which can result in anxiety and depression. In an early study into the benefits of tackling these emotions, the results shown three times as many candidates who journalled their emotions landed a new opportunity than those that didn’t. Meditating has also been proven to improve our emotional processing and reduce reactivity.

Get support

Talking through your grievances is important for making sure you are as efficient as possible with your job search. A social media group for job searching is one example, but also a therapist or career coach can help you work through issues and keep you motivated, as well as providing some emotional support. They can also be a good sounding board to figuring out your next steps and get you back on track if your confidence has dipped. We’d also suggest working with recruiters to help you maximize your options and help you position yourself.

Stay active

Your days should include an activity that will give you energy – whether that is listening to your favourite album or podcast, taking your dog for a walk or some good old-fashioned exercise – anything that revitalises you. Your energy levels and what mood you are in has an influence on your job search, because it will be evident in your interactions with hiring managers and recruiters. It is well documented that exercise in particular has the power to influence and lift your mood. It can also increase your desire to socialise, your motivation, and your self-esteem – in addition to the obvious benefits for your health, its a win win.

Perspective is important – don’t take it personally

It can be discouraging when your job search isn’t bearing the fruits of your labour – and can leave you feeling powerless. It can be important to put this into perspective though – if you haven’t heard back from someone or the person that is recommending you has gone quiet, it can be worth taking a step back and thinking about the potential reasons why, without taking it personally. There is a good chance that your job search doesn’t hold the same weight with other people as it does to you. Taking this perspective on things will depersonalise the situation whilst getting rid of some of the negative feelings involved.

It’s also important to shift perspective from time to time to assess the severity of the situation. Sometimes, when a few weeks or a month goes by with little or no progress, it can feel like your trapped. However, taking a different perspective and thinking how you will feel about this job search in 20 years will more than likely field some different answers than you are currently feeling. You know it’s not going to last forever, and the likelihood is there are some benefits you can take with you from this process, such as increased resilience – so shifting the perspective can pick you up and give you some clarity on the situation.

With these five tools, as well as some coaching tools like the wheel of life to help take stock on the good parts of your life, riding the emotional seas of searching for a new job should be more manageable. The past year has been as difficult as any in recent memory for job seekers, and we’re optimistic that the market will continue to improve over the coming months. So, for those who have been searching for a while, there is reason to be positive.

If your on the hunt for a new marketing opportunity, or looking to hire the next member of your team, reach out and have a chat with one of our consultants to see how we can help.

This article was influenced by a piece in the Harvard Business Review.