A man who was looking for help from an employment agency but was turned away, was recently accused of fatally stabbing the agency owner in her apartment in Flushing, New York. According to the police, the suspect previously served time for assaulting the victim and had multiple restraining orders taken out against him. Police believe that he held a grudge because he was unable to find a job.
Obviously, this is an extreme case, but let’s face it. The stress of a job search is nothing to scoff at. And while few let the pressure of job search get to them the way this man did, there appears to be a high correlation between the stress associated with job search and an increase in depression, failing health, and substance abuse. Can you avoid letting the stress of a job search get to you? Not always, but here are some things you can try to keep the stress in check.
- Maintain a Routine
Many job seekers report that creating routine alleviates stress during a job search. Keep the same schedule you had when you were working. Wake up at the same time and leave your house at the same time. Plan to be somewhere at 9AM. Go to the library to do research on a target company, plan a networking meeting, or go to a scheduled event.
When you volunteer you are doing something positive for a particular group or community. It allows you to channel your energy and develop focus. It is also a way to help others in need and it can help put your current situation in perspective. By volunteering, your name becomes known among the organization’s members. Chairing a committee or event allows you to showcase your skills in a particular area or gain new skills that can enhance your overall job profile.
- Keep a Journal
Keeping a record of your search and your personal thoughts regarding that journey is a good way to identify what’s working and what is not working in your search. It can also be a very cathartic process and a private place for you to record your goals and dreams.
- Create a Financial Plan
With a little bit of research and planning you may be able to reduce your financial burden after a job loss. Take the time to look at your finances, tally up your assets and set a plan for your future spending. Review any money coming in including unemployment benefits, severance package, and money from pension and retirement funds. Review expenses such as COBRA, rent, and food. Check out unemployment benefits and inquire if you qualify for any government assisted training through the Department of Labor. Job related expenses may be tax deductible, so check with an accountant. Schools and colleges may offer payment schedules and creditors may offer alternative collections options.
- Communicate with your Family
If you don’t talk about your search with a spouse or a loved one, you could be creating additional stress in the relationship. When you shut a partner out of this conversation and carry on as if nothing has changed, that person may worry about the status of your search and your overall financial security. They may constantly seek you out for updates or offer recommendations on how you should conduct your search. This may feel like nagging to the job seeker and can cause tensions to mount. If your partner wants to understand your search strategy, try setting up a weekly meeting to discuss your search plans. Then agree that you will be given the “space” to carry out your plan.
Sometimes a job seeker’s search is impeded by domestic responsibilities at home. Family members may ask you to do errands, chauffeur other family members to activities and appointments, or take on significant home improvement projects like painting the house. Keep in mind that if your job search is a part-time activity it will take you twice as long to find a new job.
- Avoid Negative People
We’ve all met them. They are the ones who say “It’s brutal out there. I’ve been searching for months and no one is hiring.” These people do nothing to help you in your search. They often have one-dimensional strategies that result in unproductive, extended searches. Let these people know that you intend to stay positive or share a tip that’s working for you. If their negative attitude continues, try, if it’s realistic, to take a break from the relationship.
- Find a Buddy
While it’s wonderful to have the support of family and friends during a job search, having a buddy who is also seeking employment can provide great benefits to both parties involved. Find someone who is in a different profession or someone who is in the same profession, but at a more junior or more senior level, so you won’t be competing for the same jobs. Having a buddy allows you to share similar concerns, boost morale, empathize with someone in the same situation, and share advice.