Stress and Job Search

by | March 10, 2009

We'd like to address a critical issue, often neglected in job search discussions, but one that is painfully apparent to anyone who has been through the process of looking for a new job. Feelings of stress during a prolonged job search, if not recognized and resolved, may lead to problems in the carrying out of the search itself. Specifically, being out of work raises some of the following primary concerns: financial issues, sense of identity, family cohesiveness, and loss of structure. Or, the demands of a current work situation may inhibit job search activities.

First for many are financial worries, which may dominate so completely that any effort at a job search becomes desperate and overwhelming. It is therefore critical to plan with your family or career counselor for managing finances during this difficult period. Second, job uncertainty for whatever reason often stirs up feelings of doubt about one's professional identity and may require time to re-evaluate one's goals, values, professional status, and related issues of self-esteem. Third, when a family is disrupted by the loss of a significant salary, or a job change, there is a rippling effect that can be disruptive and undermining to the unemployed, or unhappily employed, family member. Families need to discuss their reactions to any changes in finances or family dynamics and to be as supportive as possible with each other. And finally, loss of structure, or time pressures in a job, are inherent components of this process and often lead to feelings of apathy and discouragement.

While stress is normal and expected during a job search, it can be difficult to manage and may explain the presence at times of feelings of anxiety and even depression during this period. As one's goal is to find work and return to a sense of equilibrium, it is crucial that one address the sources and management of stress so as to keep them from becoming overwhelming. We look forward to being of help, and welcome your questions and observations regarding this issue on the Interviewing Message Board.

Filed Under: Job Search


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