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5 Tips To Keep Your Job-Hunting Anxiety At Bay

Don't let negative thoughts take over.

Credit: Getty
Credit: Getty
By Alison Green, AOL Jobs

Looking for a job is one of the most frustrating and anxiety-producing experiences that we have in our adult lives, especially if the search stretches on longer than anticipated. If you're one of the many people who is finding that your search is taking months longer than what was typical in previous job markets, here are five ways to make this maddening process easier on yourself.

1. Don't take it personally.

It's tempting to take it personally when you're rejected for a job that you thought you were perfect for or when you don't hear back from an employer after they promised they'd call. Rather than becoming offended, hurt, bitter or starting to feel like a failure, you'll be far better served by removing your emotions from the equation as much as you can. Job hunting is filled with rejections, even for great candidates, and if you take the way employers treat you as a measure of your worth, you'll never want to get out of bed again. 

2. Remember that candidate time is different than employer time. 

When you're job searching, time feels like it moves incredibly slowly – you sent in your application and then wait what feels like ages to get called for a phone screen, then wait ages to be invited to an in-person interview and then time stretches even longer when you're waiting to hear if you got the job. But on the employer's side, things are different: Hiring managers are juggling lots of other priorities and hiring often isn't their top priority. While you're waiting anxiously by your phone each hour for 10 days, they might not even have begun glancing through their stack of applications. It can help to remember this difference and not get too worked up about why you haven't heard back yet.

3. After you apply for a job, mentally move on right away.

Too often, this is what goes through a job seeker's head after applying for a job: "I wonder when I'll hear back. Maybe by the end of this week? ... I would be really good at this job. I hope I get it ... It's Wednesday and I haven't heard anything yet. I wonder what that means. Maybe I'll hear tomorrow." And on and on. It's far better for your peace of mind to put that job out of your head as soon as you've submitted your application because there's nothing to be gained by agonizing, waiting and wondering. Let yourself be pleasantly surprised if you get a call. And if they don't, you'll already have moved on anyway.

4. Don't speculate on what might be happening behind the scenes or try to read clues into what interviewers say to you.

Because job searching can be frustrating and full of disappointments, and because employers can be so difficult to read, job seekers often try to find clues about their candidacy in things that employers say and do. But plenty of what job seekers take as "signals" from employers really don't actually reveal anything at all. For instance, showing you where your new office would be, telling you that your qualifications are perfect and calling your references doesn't mean that a job offer is coming your way. You might never even hear from that employer again. And on the flip side of that, don't assume you're out of the running just because the employer re-advertises the job or doesn't get back to you by when they said they would.

5. Cut off annoying friends and relatives who pressure you about your job search.

When you're searching for a job, you might hear from lots of people who want to help – but who pick the wrong way to do it. If your mother is hounding you with constant requests for updates or your friend is pushing bad résumé advice on you, it's okay to request a moratorium on job search conversations. Say something like, "I'm grateful for your concern, but I would love to take a break from thinking about it. I'll let you know when I have any news to share."

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the co-author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager's Guide to Getting Results, and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development.
R. Smith January 15, 2014 at 11:49 AM
Well this was a useless article. Truth is that employers don't care about you or your time or if they hire you, especially if you are over the age of 40. I have been job hunting since last May. The last job interview I had actually had me trek into NYC to interview for a job in Melville! The time and expense involved was a hardship. Even after getting a second interview in Melville, I still was not hired. Age discrimination is alive and well in 2014.
springfield61 January 15, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Anxiety? Let me tell you what anxiety is. Lost my unemployment benefits because Congress didn't approve the extensions. Have no other source of income. Trying to find a job, and all that is out there, are part time jobs that only pay between 8-9 dollars an hour, and God help you, if you are over 50!!!
R. Smith January 15, 2014 at 12:43 PM
Absolutely! Since losing my job in '09, the only jobs that I have been able to find are low paying part time jobs with no benefits. I have had to work two or three of these jobs at a time to make ends meet. God help you if you are over 50 and looking for work, 30 years work experience means nothing these days!
Sharon January 15, 2014 at 01:34 PM
Well R. Smith, I am over 50 and know your pain very well. BUT…I will suggest you work on your attitude. If you don’t believe the negativity will come across in things you write or say to a potential employer (or lead to one), you are wrong. Yes it is hard. No it isn’t fair. Still, how you feel and respond to situations is 100% up to you, and taking ownership is another important quality. I wish us all the best of luck!
Toby January 15, 2014 at 10:47 PM
The problem with this article is that it's suggesting you don't "get your hopes up" so you won't be disappointed if you're rejected. Paradoxically, there's nothing more important to maintaining search momentum than hope. I'm well over 50, have been looking for work for a LONG time and I never qualified for a dime of unemployment, let alone "extensions." So springfield61, you are not alone and some of us have had it much worse than you.
springfield61 January 16, 2014 at 07:50 AM
Toby, Please know, my thoughts are with you, and I wish you the best of luck.
Autumn January 16, 2014 at 10:14 PM
Sharon: Sometimes it's best to just say nothing.
Locke January 17, 2014 at 01:41 PM
How can this possibly be? Unemployed people... how? After 5 consecutive "recovery summers," a $787,000,000,000 stimulus and wasting trillions on bloated social welfare programs, we were told the little guy would finally get a fair shake - that everything would FINALLY be fair once we made the rich pay their "fair share", put in "sensible regulations", and nationalized the best healthcare system in the world. Guess not. Too bad the idiots voted for the cool guy vs. the guy that could have actually fixed the economy so people could find a damn job - which is after all, the worlds best social welfare program ever invented. Best of luck to all in search of a job.
Baird Martin January 17, 2014 at 08:26 PM
It's all @Locke's fault. This idiot voted for Reagan, Bush, W and got us into trickle down economics hell. Shut your mouth you insignificant gutter gnome before someone shoves something in it. With that said, national average for finding a job is at 38 weeks, so if you haven't starved or died of exposure, I am sure the words of Allison "Never had to work a real job in her life" Green are comforting.
Jim B. January 17, 2014 at 09:16 PM
Locke: the "cool guy vs. the guy that could have actually fixed the economy so people could find a damn job"? Gee, sport, Wall Street is awash in cash, the rich are richer than ever. The GOP House does nothing but try to repeal the law of the land, which would take health care away from millions. And whatever to your precious "job creators", anyway? Sounds to me like you've been feasting on too many Limbaugh Biscuits.
Stephen D. Clark January 17, 2014 at 11:49 PM
Without the economic stimulus, things would have been worse. And, if we had elected the, uh - ahem - "guy who could've gotten things done," Mitt Romney, instead of President Obama, the first thing he would have done was throw more people out of work. He promised to do that on the campaign trail in May 2012. ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Romney, speaking to a crowd of likely Republican primary voters in Craig, Colorado, 29 May 2012: ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: "That stimulus he [President Obama] put in place: It didn't help private sector jobs; it helped preserve government jobs, and the one place we should have cut back was on government jobs. We have added 145,000 more government workers under this president. Let's send them home and put you back to work!" ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Video here (21 seconds): http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-bxHNKh5bUQ ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Sure, Romney was going to bring America jobs by throwing people out of work. Don't believe me? Check the video.
malcolm nichols January 18, 2014 at 07:50 AM
Just another Obamanation. A disgusting president.
Stephen D. Clark January 18, 2014 at 11:03 AM
Baloney. The "disgusting" president was the one who falsely alleged a threat to the national security of the United States in order to dishonestly justify the Invasion of Iraq, which condemned 4,486 American armed forces members (http://icasualties.org/) to futile deaths and sparked a conflagration that has consumed the lives of what has been scientifically estimated as well over a million Iraqis (http://www.globalresearch.ca/new-analysis-confirms-1-million-iraq-casualties/7950).
removeThisAccountPlease January 18, 2014 at 07:04 PM
don't expect employers to call you back. most managers are busy and they can forget things. call them a few days after the interview. good news is their are jobs... if you want to work retail for 8 bucks/hour. who can live on that? hard to not take it personally. I applied for a driver at pizza hut... was turned down via email, no meeting, no interview... I have lots of work experience, no criminal record, no accidents or points... no drug issues... how can they turn me down based on a resume and email? my age I'm guessing.

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