There’s no way to sugarcoat it, job searching is challenging work. There are so many parts to it, and at times it can feel exhausting. Hard as it may be, it’s also necessary if you want to find a new job, so you need to make sure you’re pacing yourself throughout the process so that you don’t find yourself burned out and giving up on your search before you’ve found the job you want.
You can reach the point of job-search-burnout in two ways. First, like any other professional task or project, when you’re putting in a lot of effort into your search and seeing little results, it’s easy to become a little less optimistic and feel tired from the process. It is entirely understandable and can even be unavoidable in some circumstances, despite all of your best efforts.
The second way, however, is a little more zoomed-in and in your control. The job search process includes several smaller tasks, many of which require a lot of work on their own. All of these tasks are essential to your success, but if you’re not being mindful about dividing your work time among them and instead hyper-focusing on one piece at a time, you could end up feeling burned out by that single piece. However, the problem here is that even if you have energy for the other parts of the process, your single-task burnout can still set off a chain reaction across the process because everything is interconnected.
Thankfully, unlike general job-search fatigue, this kind of burnout can be avoidable.
The Many Parts of the Job Search Process
When you think of the general process of looking for a new job, the most common steps that come to mind might be significant tasks like writing your resume, applying, and interviewing. Those are certainly major essential aspects of the search overall, but they are by no means the only parts that matter. Here are some of the tasks, big and small, that make up a job search:
Writing or revising your resume
Refreshing your online presence such as platform profiles or your personal website/brand
Actively looking for openings
Crafting cover letters, whether from a template or individually
The list above can be overwhelming to see how much goes into finding a new job. Each of these parts is crucial in its own way, though, and getting burned out on just one step can lead you to put less effort into or even skip another critical step, which can have repercussions.
Let’s say you spent days perfecting your resume but became so burned out by it that you have no desire to update any of your online profiles with the same information. In this case, your burnout could be limiting the number of potential opportunities that come your way. For example, a recruiter who is scouting online to find a candidate for an open position will not have your resume in their hands. So, when they come across your LinkedIn profile, they won’t know that it isn’t current; they could overlook you for a job you’d be qualified for. Otherwise, even if your updated resume does land in a recruiter or hiring manager’s hands, and if they do a quick Google search and find that your online profile doesn’t align with your resume. The recruiter may be left to wonder which resume is accurate (and might not be willing to put in the work to find out).
The burnout from this situation can be prevented if you split time between these two tasks to work on them simultaneously. This could look like, after updating your general skills profile and the “Why Me” portion of your resume, you shift over to your online profiles and update those same sections, working in cohesive pieces rather than trying to work sequentially, limiting yourself to one task at a time.
The concept of working on several aspects of the job search coincident makes a lot of sense. But putting it into practice will take a little bit of strategic planning on your end. You’ll need to think about your areas of strength and weakness and come up with realistic estimates for how long you can focus on a single task to feel productive without feeling burned out. Here are some tips for coming up with your timeline/plan:
First, estimate how much total time in a week you plan on working on your job search. Since you may not be able to spend the same X number of hours on your search every single day, looking at a whole week might be more helpful when you’re dividing up your time.
Next, prioritize tasks and set goals for the week. Which aspect of the job search you need to focus on will likely change from week to week (after all, how many times can a person revamp their resume?), so coming up with a few general goals at the start of the week can help you prioritize your work and stay focused.
Schedule your week out based on how you work best. There are undoubtedly going to be tasks on your to-do list that you’re not thrilled about doing, whether it’s networking or writing follow-up emails, but you still need to devote a chunk of time to each of them. So, think about how you work best: by getting the less-engaging tasks done first and out of the way or starting the day/week with tasks you’re good at to help you make progress and stay motivated? Then, schedule your week based on whatever method will help you do your best work and reach your goals.
Stick to your schedule. It’s a waste of your time to work out a weekly schedule, making an effort to mindfully divide up your job search tasks, only to ignore the timeline come Monday morning completely. Make it a priority to follow through with your schedule because you divided it out the way you did for a good reason.
Tip: Be realistic with yourself about how much time you should spend on each step of the job-hunting process. The Balance Careers suggests allocating three hours a week to actively applying for jobs. Another three hours to researching new companies to potentially apply to, three hours to participating in interviews (including attending job fairs if you don’t have any formal interviews lined up), and up to 11 hours of networking in a week. This target may not be a perfect match for your specific situation, but it’s a good template for looking at the big picture before dividing out your time throughout the week.
Remember, you have a lot of control when avoiding task burnout during the job-searching process. It just takes some self-discipline to do it successfully. Every single part of the job-hunting process creates a ripple effect that impacts all of the other small parts, so be sure to focus on all of the pieces, play to your strengths as you work, and don’t be afraid to break when you need to so you can stay motivated and find success.
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