It’s one of the worst feelings. In the past month, you have applied to over 40 jobs. You received 7 automated declination emails almost immediately after submitting your application and 4 emails requesting an interview. You don’t receive any feedback on the other 30+ applications submitted. After 10 hours of interviews and at least 5 hours to prepare for each, you receive the dreaded email that you have not been selected…for any of the roles. You are crushed. The whole process had been increasingly stressful as you prepare to embark on your next round of applications and interviews. You feel sad, frustrated, irritated, anxious, scared, and depressed.

This – job search stress – is a reality for so many people right now. From the “Great Resignation” to the “Great Reshuffle,” there are currently millions of people both actively and passively job searching. As a result, a large percentage of these individuals have or will experience job search stress. In fact, studies have shown that extended unemployment and underemployment can have a significant impact on a job seeker’s physical and mental health. With such a surge in candidates exploring new opportunities, job search burnout is inevitable. What can we do to prepare for this and manage our mental health as best as possible?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the perfect time to check in with ourselves and our level of job search stress. For those of you currently on a job search journey, here are some tips.

4 Tips to handle job search stress

Go back to the basics.

In order to get the job that you want, you need to know what it is that you want. In addition, you need be able to envision what that looks and feels like for you. The clearer you can define this for yourself, the easier it will be to develop a strategy to get there. Take the time to reflect on your past roles and experiences. What tasks or aspects brought you joy and a sense of accomplishment? What are the most important priorities for you right now – is it salary, benefits, remote or hybrid work? Doing this reflective work at the start will set you up for success. It will also build your confidence in targeting specific companies and positions that align with what is most important to you in a job.

Identify what you can control.

Stress can be exacerbated when we feel that we are not in the driver’s seat of an important aspect of our life like our job. Unfortunately, we will not always be able to control things like the timing of a response, or delays due to budget changes. In addition, the decision that the team has selected another candidate for the position. What we can do to reduce our level of job search stress is to focus on what we can control. Prepare and practice our STAR answers for behavioral interviewing and update your resume regularly with measurable achievements. You can even create different versions of your resume based on your target jobs.

Reflect on rejection as redirection.

It is natural to be upset or disappointed after receiving a rejection from a company that you spent time applying to and interviewing with. Albeit tough, challenge yourself to view the rejection as an opportunity to reflect on if the position, company, team, or timing was the right match for you. Perhaps you got so caught up in the job search process and stress that came along with it, that you didn’t realize, until now, that you should focus on going in a different direction.

Do other things.

Job searching should be a part of your life, but not your whole life. Balancing and recalibrating what you spend energy on can help to reduce potential job search stress. It may be helpful to schedule specific timeslots on your calendar for job searching and make room for the other things in your life that you like to do whether it’s taking a walk with the dogs, cooking, practicing mindfulness, meeting with friends, going for a run, taking a dance class, forest bathing, spending time with family or reading.

Remember that you are not alone

Stress is something that every single one of us experiences on some level and job search stress is a very real thing, especially in this market. Stay connected to the supportive people in your life with whom you are comfortable sharing your job search stress journey. Consider working with a recruiter who can help you target certain roles or companies and provide feedback on your resume and interview approach. Here at Atrium, we happen to have some great recruiters who can remind you that you are not alone in your job search!

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding mental health concerns.


Deanna Silva
Deanna Silva

Deanna is a Senior Recruiter on the Direct Sourcing Team, one of 15+ job titles she has held over her 20 year working history with over 10 employers since graduating with a degree in human services and counseling. Her candidate-focused approach to HR and recruiting is rooted in her personal job search experience, her background in career advising, her formal education, which includes a professional certificate in adult career planning and development, and her deep interest in bettering the candidate experience and discovering its impact on overall employee engagement and retention.