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Chronicle

Staying sane during the Job Search - Steering clear of stressing the small stuff

Posted: 12 November 2014

Job searching is stressful. There's no getting around the emotional rollercoaster that is finding your perfect position and nailing that interview. Yep, the job search journey is rife with resume/ CV reservations and follow up fails. I wouldn’t dream of telling you to chill out and get a grip. That would be rude, but what I will say is that your stress and panic is misplaced. What are your top job search worries? I'm betting everything from cover letters to interview techniques are on that list, all very worthy areas to feel anxious about. However, there's so much that doesn't merit mania.

There’s a heap of things that job seekers stress over when, in short, they simply shouldn’t. In reality, there’s a pretty small sections of details and actions that can truly make or break your ability to bag your perfect job. While you’re testing out a million CV fonts or practicing your handshake, there’s way better uses for your time and job search success. So, what are the areas that bring on so much unnecessary stress and how should this time really be spent? Let’s navigate you through the common culprits and help you prioritise (and relax).

The Resume/ CV Runaround.

Yes, we all know that a good resume is a recruitment solid. But so many job seekers put the resume on a pedestal, investing all their hopes and energy into creating a masterpiece. By all means get stuck into updating and polishing up but don’t get crazy addicted to this solitary step.

It’s a necessary stage in the search process but remember that it’s just one part of the puzzle. Do the deed, tick the box and move onto the next task.

Time better spent on...Networking.

There’s only so much experience, character and personality you can communicate over paper. Get out there and meet new contacts and fellow searchers. Whether it’s a business group or a simple ‘I’m in the market for a new job’ email sent around your contacts, stay in the loop and communicating with people. Networking is the gift that keeps giving so invest real time and effort into learning and growing from this search, not just surviving it.

The Cover Letter conundrum.

On par with the resume madness, stressing over your cover letter is a common candidate occurrence. There’s often more emphasis and significance placed on the cover letter than the resume itself - nothing wrong with that but it tricks candidates into believing that this is their golden ticket. Again, this is an important stage but is by no means the be all and end all.

Don’t feel the need to embark on your life story. This is an opener, an intro to your relevance so try to avoid explaining and justifying every twist in your career path. Aim for impact. What could you bring to the role and how could you affect the company? Voice your suitability and tone the reasoning down.

Time better spent…Developing well-roundedness.

Instead of cursing your staggered work history and details, embrace what makes you, well, you. Focus on other aspects to add to the mix and be sure to develop attributes and experiences that flesh you out as an individual. Whether you take a class or stay active as a volunteer, undertake activities and express qualities that showcase your ability to make a valuable impact.

The interview inferiority complex.

It’s probably the most feared and stressful event of this job journey. So many seekers go nuts over what could happen during the interview. The great/terrifying thing is that you have little control over this event, something that gives some candidates relief and others a heart attack.

The usual troublemaker worries include;

  • How do I address my interviewer?
  • What will they ask?
  • What skills and attributes do I present?
  • What signals is the interviewer giving me?

The truth is you have no idea how an interview will go. Until you’re in the seat talking to the hiring manager, you’re clueless. Instead of obsessing the things you can’t control, opt to take care of the things you can.

Time better spent…Researching the company.

Obviously this is part of preparing for any interview, but don’t just do the minimal amount. Dig a little deeper and perhaps look for information a bit more hidden from the general population. Find a new context and uncover aspects such as;

  • New business partnerships.
  • Key staff members.
  • Social and corporate responsibility policies.
  • Explore their employer brand inside and out - What is their culture really all about?

The pester puzzle.

There’s one question we all ask ourselves post-interview - When should I follow up? This is a time of excitement, worry and doubt and learning to relax and let events unfold can be tough.

Sit back and accept that making the right decision takes time. There’s more than one person involved in the selection process so be mindful of your hiring manager’s situation, no one likes to be chased. If they say “I’ll be in touch in a week”, then give them a week before you even think about following up. The hard bit is done so enjoy the silence for a while.

Time better spent…Job hunting!

The worst thing you can do it put your hunt on hold while you await a response. Obsessing over one job sees you putting all your eggs in one basket - a bad move. The fact is you never know what’s unfolding on the other end, no matter how well you felt it went. Keep moving and applying until an offer is on the table.

Escaping the stresses and unneeded strife of job searching is hard going. Successful hunting is about allocating your time effectively and balancing your hopes, aspirations and efforts - a skill in itself. Create and stick to a routine, stress kicks in when you overwhelm yourself so keep a hold on what you can do and what you can’t.

Do you like this stuff? Then join over 21,000 other awesome people who get tips on improving their employer brand, recruitment, marketing and the odd spot of career advice delivered directly to their inbox from me!