For many people, their job is a huge part of their identity. So, when you don’t have one, it can often feel like there is a big void to fill. Moreover, there are many people that have been on the lookout for a job after the global pandemic. And not everyone is thrilled about this experience.
I asked some questions trying to find out just how common job search anxiety might be in Australia. Aaron McEwan, FAHRI MAPS, is a top 100 Global HR influencer named by Engagedly, Coaching Psychologist, Strategic Advisor, who also advises several tech start-ups and teaches in the Masters of Organisational Coaching program at Sydney Business School. He wears several hats and has been generous enough to allow me to pick his brain with some questions on job seeking anxiety.
Through his insights, one can unravel the scenario of what may be the plight of an anxious job seeker and what he can do about it to successfully land a job.
1. What kind of issues have you come across relating to job seekers who have anxiety looking for a job?
I think the biggest issue is that anxiety about job seeking can often lead people to hesitate and/or procrastinate around applying for jobs. "You have to be in it to win it" is absolutely true for job seekers. Anxiety can cause us to second guess our own worth and we may miss out on opportunities simply because we didn't put ourselves forward. It can also impact our confidence in networking. Whether it's on-line or in person, networking is critical to successful job seeking. When we're anxious or lacking confidence, we tend to shy away from attending events or engaging in *[virtual networking](https://autechjobs.com/blog/virtual-networking-skills-for-developers/).*
2. Can you give us an idea about how common this anxiety might be? What is it that these people feel anxious about?
It's very common.
“In all my years of career coaching, I have honestly only encountered one or two people who weren't anxious about their job search”.
Anxiety is particularly common for people who have lost their job. They've already taken a hit to their confidence. Entering the job market is daunting. We risk rejection, applying for jobs, and attending interviews aren't things that people tend to do very often so many people will feel anxious about their capabilities not only in the jobs they are applying for but the process of job search itself. And, of course, job-seeking requires us to put ourselves out there to be judged so it's no wonder that almost everyone feels at least some anxiety about the process.
3. Is there a prescribed method to cope with job search anxiety?
I wouldn't feel qualified to comment on prescribed methods of coping with job search anxiety as this is the realm of clinical psychology. However, it's similar to many other types of anxiety. I'll go back to my answer to the first question, though.
Job search anxiety often leads to avoidance and procrastination because people overly focus on the outcome - "there are so many more qualified people out there so there's no point in even applying for this job."
So, my best advice is to focus on the process, not the outcome. Apply to as many relevant jobs as possible, put yourself in the race, attend the networking events even when you don't want to go, make those virtual connections, etc. Focus on putting your best foot forward and let the outcome take care of itself. Job search, in many ways, is a numbers game so you have to focus on doing the right activities. It can also be a frustrating and lonely process. Rejection will happen so be kind to yourself and try to build a strong social network of friends and colleagues that you can connect with, get advice and sometimes just share your frustrations with. And finally, I cannot speak more highly of the value of working with a professional career coach.
Job search anxiety is very real, it happens to the best of us. If you are someone who gets anxious about searching for a job, talking to people, the process just makes you nervous, you have come to the right place. Or maybe you are looking for a job after a long time, this article is for you. You can learn how to turn a frustrating, often overwhelming task like searching for a job into a positive learning experience with these tips.
1.Prepare yourself for the time it will take
We are living under new circumstances amid the pandemic, so chances are that landing your ideal job may take some time. Take a deep breath and start by accepting your current situation. When you accept that the situation isnt as good as you want it to be right now, you will look at options to make it better. Then you could begin by exploring tech jobs that are in demand in your field of work.
How can you prepare yourself to battle anxiety during your job search? Try these tips that will help strengthen your mindset.
-Know that this isn’t permanent
This too shall pass. When you realize that this phase, neverending as it may seem, is temporary, it lightens the mental weight you carry. It also helps you become hopeful about your opportunities as well as positive about your outcomes.
You could file for unemployment with your government. You may also be eligible for benefits depending upon various factors such as age, family status, etc. this will give you a sense of support that carries you through challenging times.
The Australian government provides unemployment benefits to its citizens and permanent residents. You can visit their website and find options for individuals as well as organizations.
It makes sense to start by organizing your savings and use it judiciously. It will act as a temporary financial cushion that you can rely on. Additionally, you can create a structure around activities that you’ll need to do like getting your resume ready, filling out job applications, and managing other chores. If it has been a long time since you have had to look for a job, you can update your resume, changing your cover letter approaches, call your career coach or mentor, learn a new skill, and get your social media accounts like Linkedin updated.
2. Keep a positive outlook
When times are tough, inspiration to do what you love can be challenging. The Australian Psychological Society lists Cognitive behavior therapy as one of the treatments for anxiety. They mention cognitive restructuring as one of the treatments where you change your negative thoughts and develop more positive and constructive ways of thinking.
You can practice positive self-talk and affirmations to help you in many ways:
-Drown out negative mental chatter
Check your thoughts like a self-audit and see what you are saying to yourself. You may be thinking, “Okay, I got this, I am going to get myself a job” or you may be thinking, “ There is no way I can figure this out, I have literally applied to all the jobs out there and I haven’t heard back from anyone” Catch yourself if you are falling in the vicious circle of negative self-talk that involves scary thoughts about your future. See if you may be getting ahead of yourself by imagining situations that haven't happened yet.
-Be your own support system
One great way to support yourself is by changing your internal dialogue. For example, If you keep saying to yourself, “ I am not good enough for the jobs out there”, you could change your thought to “I am fortunate that I am skilled, I will find something that suits my capabilities.”This way, change your entire mental dialogue into something positive. Write them down and repeat if you have to. You have to become your own cheerleader especially when the process is internal. A positive outlook provides encouragement to move your job search process along.
Positive affirmations can keep worries out of your head and motivate you to work consistently towards your goal. Hang out with people that inspire you, follow positive handles on social media, or write your gratitude journal. It can boost mental well being and help you figure out how you can use available options to chart your way to a new job.
3. Celebrate your progress
According to the Australian psychological society, stressful life events such as financial hardship or loss of work can be one of the triggers that can cause anxiety. So, take a break when you need to and celebrate what you have achieved so far.
For example, You got your resume updated. You send out your job applications. You just got back from your interview. Take some time off to celebrate how far you have come. Savoring your continuous efforts can propel you forward with motivation. If you can manage, a change of scene once in a while can help you get some peace too.
Your job is definitely a huge part of your life. But it's not your entire life because we play multiple roles in the family, social circle, etc. We have our interests, our responsibilities, and other aspects to attend to that make life-enriching. So while there is an undeniable void trying to find an ideal job, you can consider focusing on other areas of life like spending time with your loved ones or doing things you love to do.
This fresh perspective will help you gather support from friends and family, use referrals through your connections, or learn a skill. This way you can push back your anxiety and bring your confidence to the forefront.
5. Staying healthy:
Taking care of yourself at a challenging time in your life can be a game-changer. Eating well and exercising regularly will keep you performing at your best. In addition, you can also practice mindfulness and self-awareness through meditation. This is a popular and effective way of keeping your headspace going strong when you have anxious thoughts.
A job search can be a learning experience about yourself and about the industry you want to work in. It is only natural that so many people are anxious in the face of uncertainty. However, this pandemic has given way to innovative ways of doing business. So hang in there as you are not alone. By following the above tips you can maintain a strong headspace to work towards a pleasant job search experience.