Signs of job search burnout – and how to recover

Searching for a new job is no easy task.

There’s the endless CV tweaking, the writing of what feels like a million cover letters, and the sheer time spent checking every job website you can find.

All this – coupled with the raised expectations and repeated disappointments – can be seriously draining.

It’s vital to know when to take a break, otherwise job search burnout can hit you hard.

Ahead, we break down some common signs you’re experiencing job search burnout, and share advice on how to recover.

Signs you’re experiencing job search burnout

You’re applying to every job without much thought

You’re in full automation mode, firing off applications for jobs you don’t even want or that you’ve got no chance of getting.

You’re indecisive

Burnout can make the simplest decisions feel impossible. If you find yourself deliberating over everything from your font choice to whether to apply for a certain job, it’s time to hit pause.

You’re procrastinating

‘You’re avoiding specific tasks or decisions you need to make,’ say the career experts at Lensa.

‘For example, you’re not actively searching for opportunities to apply for or you’re not replying to requests for interviews.’

You always feel tired

In a permanent state of exhaustion, no matter how much you sleep? That’s a classic sign of burnout.

You feel guilty when you’re not doing job search tasks

You absolutely deserve and need to take breaks, but when you’re approaching burnout, you’ll start to feel productivity guilt, telling yourself off for doing anything other than applying for jobs.

Even small tasks feel completely overwhelming

Does the idea of writing another version of your cover letter feel like an insurmountable task?

You start to feel like it’s all pointless

Cynicism and negativity creeps in when you’re experiencing excess stress. You might start noticing yourself thinking there’s no point in trying, or that any job you get will be rubbish anyway, or that you’re doomed to be rejected whatever you do.

You’re super irritable

Keep snapping at everyone that crosses your path? Blame burnout.

You’re losing motivation

This ties into the ‘feeling like it’s all pointless’ thing above, but when burnout is looming, you can struggle to feel a drive to do anything.

Your sleep is disrupted

The moment you can’t sleep due to worries about the job hunt, there’s an issue.

How to tackle job search burnout

If you’re ticking off a bunch of the signs above, what can you do about it? Try this tips.

Establish boundaries

‘Deciding on a start and end time for your job search is a great first step to establish boundaries,’ say the Lensa team.

‘Set specific hours during the day or week that you will dedicate to your job search and spend no time working on it outside of the time frame.

‘Spending too much time browsing job boards or agonizing over application details can lead to burnout.’

Use dealbreakers

Choose three absolute dealbreakers and ditch any jobs that have them.

‘Constantly weighing the pros and cons of every job you come across is time-consuming and stressful,’ say the experts.

‘You can use dealbreakers to help you make faster decisions and quickly eliminate positions that aren’t a good fit and you’re unlikely to be offered or to accept.

‘Set dealbreakers around workload, salary, commute time, benefits, and travel requirements.’

Limit your search

You can’t look at every single job that currently has a position to be filled. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Keep your job search limited to your expertise and qualifications, and make sure you’re searching efficiently, with a list of specific keywords.

Use ‘if-then’ rules

The Lensa experts suggest: ‘Create a list of processes to make narrowing down options easier.

‘For example, if you have a rule not to apply to jobs that will require a commute of longer than 30 minutes, and you see a position is located in an area that is an hour away, then don’t submit an application.

‘Use your predetermined if-then rules to eliminate positions quickly so that you save time and mental energy.’

Take a break

Stick to those boundaries you set out, and when you need to take a break, do so.

Step away from the computer and do something completely unrelated to your job search – read a book, watch some trashy TV, go on a walk, whatever you fancy.

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