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How to Job Hunt (When You’re Already Exhausted)

When Fred, a client of mine, realized he wasn’t feeling fulfilled in his job, he wanted to find something more meaningful. So he started a job search. Within days, he was interviewing multiple times a week for multiple companies, and each interview required hours of preparation while he was also spearheading major projects at his full-time job. As his workload became more frenetic, he said many times, “This is exhausting,” and at times thought he would give up for a while if the roles he was interviewing for didn’t come through. Fred’s exhaustion is understandable. When you’re already worn out from working full time, caring for family, and managing this new way of “Covid being,” it’s hard to muster up the energy to jump into a job hunt or consider changing careers. Incorporating the following five coaching and change management principles into your job search will help you stay motivated throughout what can feel like a grueling process even at the best of times.

Define your why — and why now Understanding why you want a new job will help you focus on the end goal. It will allow you to enter the search from a place of exploration and empowerment, which will motivate you find space for job hunting instead of filling that space with paralyzing anger or fear. Defining “why now?” will call you to action to take that first step.

Visualize current state and target state Sit and close your eyes. Visualize a time when you were excited about a new job or happy in your current one. What feelings do the images conjure up for you? What parts of the images excite you? Do you like the people? The work? Then think about your job today. Do you have different feelings? What don’t you have in your current job that you wish you did? Finally, visualize how you’ll feel when you find your dream job. Embrace that energy, excitement, and engagement and feel it through your entire body. What parts of the new job will make you feel this way? Using visualization to determine what’s important to you and embracing the feeling that comes from the imagery will help you power through the arduous job-hunting process if there is disappointment or it’s taking longer than you anticipated. Use this technique when exhaustion or false narratives take over.

Make a plan Fear of the unknown, of how much time the process will take, or of not knowing what you want to do will stop you from gaining momentum in your job search. But if you create a plan first and follow it methodically, you’ll glean energy from accomplishing every step. First, determine how much time you’re willing and able to dedicate to the job-hunting process and commit to that amount of time each day or week. Block off that time as well as 15 minutes twice a day to check personal email and LinkedIn to respond to recruiters or schedule interviews. If you can swing it, consider incorporating a bit of extra time every day to do something you love right before sitting down to job hunt, such as exercising, dancing, standing with arms akimbo (Wonder Woman stance), or being with family. This will energize you, put your mind in a peaceful and happy space, and prime it for productivity. Next, create an activity schedule. What will you do and when? Do you need to prepare your resume, update your LinkedIn profile, or develop stories around your experience to tell during interviews? How much time will you spend applying online? Be clear on what you’ll do each day you blocked off time. Finally, determine who you’ll need support from when job hunting. Do you need to ask a significant other to take more responsibility in the household so you can use that time to job hunt? Do you need to set boundaries for the time you’ll dedicate to the search and not let anyone (or anything) interrupt you?

Focus on what you can control All companies’ recruiting processes are different and will take various amounts of time. Some companies have a maximum of four interviewers whereas others may have 10 interviews, a technical test, and reference checks. Some companies take 30 or 60 days to hire; some take 90 days or longer. Roles, leaders, or budgets can change after a job is posted or after you’ve interviewed, leaving you to wonder, what happened? You can’t control any of that. You also can’t control whether you’re a culture fit, whether a recruiter disappears and ghosts you, whether there are any jobs open in your chosen field at a particular time, or how many jobs you’ll need to apply to before you find the perfect one. Focusing on all of these things will sap your energy and make you not want to even start a job hunt. But if you focus on what you can control, you’ll increase your positive energy and build momentum. Here are a few things to spend your energy on instead of the factors that are out of your hands:

  • Figuring out what you want to do and developing a resume and LinkedIn profile that demonstrate your skills and capabilities through the lens of the new job.

  • Scheduling meet-and-greet opportunities with people in your field.

  • Preparing for interviews.

  • Reaching out to references and encouraging them to be enthusiastic in talking about areas you need them to cover.

Breathe and believe that the right job is the one you will secure Mental preparation is just as important as preparing your resume. The job-hunting process is emotional and comes with plenty of ups (great interviews) and downs (losing a job to another candidate). Even landing a new job may lead to stress over setting your current team members up for success, offboarding, and then onboarding in a new company. Rejection after a battery of interviews may make you feel like you wasted a lot of time. But what if you changed that perspective to finding success in each failure? Every interview, every meeting, is practice for the right job. When you’re rejected from a job you really want, it feels like a lost opportunity. But what if you changed the narrative in your brain to genuinely believe it wasn’t the right opportunity? Prepare how you’ll work through rejection in advance. For example, give yourself a maximum of one day to mourn the loss, determine what you learned from the experience, then own that it wasn’t the right role for you. Setting boundaries will stop the spiral over an opportunity that wasn’t right for you anyway. The most important aspect of job hunting is to be compassionate with yourself and change your thought process from “I’m not doing enough” to “I’m doing the best I can.” When Fred felt like his work, family, and other commitments were being short-changed as a result of the time he dedicated to his job search, he reminded himself that the investment in finding the right job would ultimately enrich all aspects of his life and that a more rewarding environment would curb some of his fatigue. He was right — his energy and happiness multiplied exponentially when he landed his dream job.

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