Executives and professionals often struggle to manage their emotions during a job search. It’s lonely. You feel isolated. Your confidence takes a hit. There is no one to whom you can readily turn for guidance. The process of looking for a new job causes many emotions to surface. Executives and professionals who were previously strong, confident leaders face new internal challenges. These challenges make the process even more difficult. These 5 tactics to manage job search emotions can help you persevere and find success.
Emotions of Job Searching
Clients routinely share with our team that the most valuable part of our service to them was that they were not alone. Every client, no exceptions, struggles with these emotions, especially when they are all alone. The fear of not knowing where to start when you haven’t looked for a job in many years holds us back. The harsh self criticism of remaking our career marketing materials sends candidates into a tailspin that can often last for many weeks. The anxiety of reaching out to people in our existing network to ask for help debilitates our confidence levels. The sheer terror of reaching out to people we don’t know sends shivers down our spines. Frustration sets in when we don’t hear anything back from those to whom we do reach out. The toll a rejection letter takes on us when we finish in second place for an interview is often debilitating. No one should try and shoulder this alone.
Tactic #1 for job search emotions – Accept the inevitable
You will find success. But along the way there will be failures and disappointments. If more than 5 years elapsed since you last conducted a job search you need to realize that your skills are rusty. The last time you changed jobs might not have been a full search process. Perhaps the job found you. Then, when you realize the last job search you conducted was for a position much lower than your current level, it occurs to you that you have never done this for a job at this level. When you are expecting ups and downs along the way it’s easier to adjust and stay focused on making daily progress. Conversely, if you are devastated at the first rejection and it derails your progress for days or weeks, it only sets you back further.
Tactic #2 for Job search emotions – Plan for a lengthy campaign
It will likely take much longer than you realize. Manage your expectations to know that it likely won’t be a quick turnaround. Of course, you don’t want to plod along in the early stages and take it easy. That only adds more time to the end for how long it will take. There are many things you will not be able to control regarding the time frame for employer interviews, hiring decisions, negotiating process and on-boarding. These steps always take longer than any candidate wants. Even if you land a solid interview right out of the gates it could take at least four months before you can start the new job as an executive or professional. This accounts for an average of five rounds of interviews. There will likely be a few weeks in between rounds to schedule all candidates and interviewers. Once an offer is made it will likely take a few weeks to finalize negotiations and the legal review of agreements. Then, scheduling the start date will often take 3-4 weeks. Mentally prepare for at least 4-6 months of total time. Often it will take even longer to land the right job.
Part of this plan needs to include your personal finances. If you have only a few months of severance, or no severance, your monthly bills will need to be covered from savings, from a spouse’s income, borrowing, a moonlighting job or all of the above. Cut your expenses for all non-essentials as soon as possible. You will also need to have resources available to cover incidental expenses related to your job search. The emotions that arise from financial pressures during a period of unemployment are powerful. They can cause serious problems for job seekers if they don’t employ good tactics to manage their job search emotions.
Tactic #3 for job search emotions – have a team
An extended job search causes loneliness. Candidates who try to do everything themselves feel isolated. It’s difficult for many to share their struggles with their spouse. It’s also difficult to receive guidance and critique from someone so close. Of course they love you and want the best for you. But, the relationship dynamics create barriers that make it difficult to help even when the advice is good.
The team should include people like career coaches and mentors. Career coaches do this professionally and have access to resources and expertise. They are not personally related to you and it is easier to give and receive guidance. They charge for their services but some partner with you to be paid when you land the new job. Most do not. Mentors can be very helpful. These are trusted advisors and people you know. Unfortunately, they are also volunteers and might not be readily available when needed. The relationship dynamic might also make it difficult to share your frustrations and emotions of the job search challenges. Executive coaches, therapists and counselors are specifically skilled in helping people work through these challenges. They can be excellent additions to the team.
Tactic #4 for – plan your days
Time is your most precious asset during a job search. It needs to be invested wisely and in advance of your day. Job seekers who begin their day without a plan quickly find themselves staring at their computer wondering what to do next. They meander through job boards and internet articles chasing butterflies. At the end of the day there is often little to show for their efforts. The frustration sets in. When a loved one asks, “how was your day,” it can often trigger an agitated response.
If you are unemployed build your daily schedule as if this is your full-time job. Set up several activities with breaks in between. Establish metrics and goals that are meaningful and attainable for what you would like to accomplish. Celebrate your incremental progress. If you are employed and exceedingly busy find time each and every day. You will need at least 30 minutes each day. This does not have to be in a single block. It can be broken into smaller segments. It does need to be daily however. Job seekers who put things off for days at a time without making progress lose momentum. Many busy executives struggle to hold themselves accountable to their own needs. They will work 60 hours a week in helping others, though. This is an area where a coach can help tremendously.
Tactic #5 – practice self care
It is important to take care of yourself in many ways during the grueling process of a job search. Candidates with better emotional stability are much more likely to move forward day by day than those who don’t. In fact, a classic study by researchers from Southern Methodist University and published in the Academy of Management Journal tracked two groups of unemployed engineers for eight months. One group journaled for 20 minutes a day for 5 days to share their thoughts and emotions around the job search. The control group did not journal. At the end of the eight months the engineers who expressed their thoughts in a journal regularly were almost three times more likely to have found employment than the control group.
Self care also involves taking care of other needs, such as eating healthy, exercising, getting good sleep, socializing with friends and perhaps meditating. Candidates perform better with their daily work plans and in interactions with potential employers when they have other areas of their lives in balance. Make it part of your daily regimen to ensure you are in balance.
Agents and Team Help You Overcome Emotions
Job seekers accomplish much more when they have someone with them at every step. The agent team helps them overcome these emotions to move forward each day. Our clients share how much they value their agent. The value transcends the knowledge offered by the agent. It goes much deeper. The job seeker client loves most that they are not alone.
About Endeavor Agency, Inc.
Endeavor Agency is the nation’s leading career agency for executives. Endeavor helps executives, physicians, and professionals find jobs. Our team prepares clients for interviews and our clients win job offers far more often. Endeavor helps clients negotiate better offers and employment contracts.