Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Six Strategies I Use to Manage Job Search Anxiety

I’ve been diligently looking for a full-time job since January 1, 2016. It’s not the first time I’ve had to do so in my career, nor will it necessarily be the last. At times I’ve been plagued by fear, worry, and anxiety when confronted by what I consider convoluted recruiting and hiring processes. Fortunately, over time I’ve cultivated six strategies to alleviate my concerns and better direct my energies towards landing meaningful employment. 

1. Meditate to start the day: Before I sit down in the morning to start work on my job search, I make sure I meditate for at least 10 minutes. My intent is to relax, calm my mind, and focus my energies on the day ahead.

2. Create a to do list and stick to it: I use Todoist to track tasks I need to complete that are related to my job search, as well as for classes I teach, client projects, outside interests, household matters, and the like. This effort forces me to be specific about actions I need to take, and when I need to complete them. I also tend to easily get distracted without a list as social media, the news, other Web sites, and a cornucopia of books and other publications are within arms reach and ready to grab my attention. My list is a constant reminder of what I must get done, and I review it regularly outside of business hours to brainstorm new options and reprioritize tasks as necessary.

3. Schedule time away from my house/office: I have a wonderful office in my home. It’s cozy and comfortable, and I have everything I need to work nonstop from dawn until dusk. Yet as productive as I can be my energies eventually wane, and a change of scenery during the workday typically helps a lot. I may set up a meeting with a colleague, attend a business or social event, or simply work at a local coffee shop. My creativity receives an immediate jolt (even if I’m not drinking a caffeinated beverage).

4. Compile a daily gratitude list: Each day I write a list of what I am grateful for in my life at that moment. These lists include specific people (i.e., my wife), my cat, places, material things, abilities, intentions, and the like. No matter how poorly I feel my job search is going on any particular day, I always find several things that at the time leave me happy and feeling fulfilled. This recognition usually helps me to put any negative feelings in perspective and move on to take positive steps towards finding a job.

5. Help someone else: I’ve discovered that the job search effort should not prevent me from pursuing opportunities to help people, organizations, and causes. For example, I’ve recently signed up with San Francisco Achievers to mentor a local community college student. I’ve enjoyed this activity immensely and feel positive about the contribution I am making to my community while I look for a job.  

6. Spend time on an old hobby (or find a new one): Spending most of my waking hours on a job search is neither productive nor good for me. I need other outlets for my energy and creativity. Most recently, I’ve written a book chapter on leadership in higher education and engaged in related research on leadership development that I hope to get published in the not too distant future. I’ve enjoyed these activities immensely; in fact, the time away from full-time work has allowed me to reengage in academia in ways that my last full-time position simply did not allow. 

I’m keen to find a full-time job as soon as possible. In the meantime, I know I can call on these six strategies to remain focused on that ultimate goal. 


Unknown said...

Hi Mitchell.

Great stuff here! I particularly like #3 and #6. I find breaking up the day is great if you're anything like me and get antsy. We've got to allow ourselves little pleasures too so the day doesn't feel too burdensome.

I'll keep my ear to the ground for any leadership job openings. Have you tried idealist?


Mitchell Friedman, Ed.D., APR said...

Oh yes! :)

(Thanks for the post)