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How To Deal With Burnout & Maintain Motivation During Your Job Search

Rachel Serwetz
Rachel Serwetz
September 6, 2022
How To Deal With Burnout & Maintain Motivation During Your Job Search

They say job search is its own full time job, so that means it requires the same level of care in terms of how you feel and how that impacts how you do “on the job.” It's completely normal and expected that the job search will take a toll on you. A job search requires patience, persistence, and resilience. That being said, we have to be very careful to notice when to slow down, take breaks, and not just push ourselves beyond our limits, otherwise it will simply erode the quality of our work and our results.

It’s important to have support throughout the process. But besides finding external support, it’s also critical to think about how to manage yourself, your schedule, and your energy. That way, you can avoid taking actions in your job search that are less than ideal. Remember, your mindset drives your actions, so being in the right mindset will ensure you’re applying to and pursuing the right things, rather than getting yourself into interviews that are a waste of your (and their) time. 

Here are a few things I recommend:

Determine what support system you have in place to help you be most effective throughout your job search

  1. Most people feel they have to go it alone and end up guessing where to spend their time versus leveraging a coach, mentor, peer, or other tools and resources to be strategic. This can be a major source of frustration if you’re putting in time without seeing results you want; don’t forget you can take a beat to seek out the guidance you need. 
  2. You may need different types of support, like guidance around best practices in the process, but also outlets like friends who allow you to blow off steam, have fun, and relax when you’re not actively in job search mode.
  3. You may also consider having a therapist to process the variety of emotions that naturally arise during the process.

Set boundaries to allow mental space and actual time for your new goal of job searching.

  1. Instead of just adding time to an existing busy schedule, see where you can set some limits elsewhere to make space for this goal.
  2. If you’re working currently, reassess and reallocate what percent of your professional energy can now go towards your job search. Can you put in 80-90% of your energy instead of 100% to your job and still do a great job? Can you allocate 10-20% of that energy towards your own career development?
  3. If you’re working currently, set boundaries there. If the culture allows for it, talk to your manager to be able to state when you'll start and end your workday so you don't feel pressured to answer emails or messages after hours. Taking breaks and having balance where you can truly shut off work is important. This becomes much harder when working from home, so figure out what you can do to help like removing your work email from your phone, turning off message notifications, shut down your work laptop, manage expectations, etc.
  4. You may very well need to also figure out who is not being supportive and create boundaries there. Family members often want the best for us but don’t know how to provide the right support. Be patient but also clear about what you are doing to get the right help as well as the role they are allowed to play.

Get best practice guidance, run with it, then measure performance, and pivot regularly.

  1. By having proper guidance, you'll be sure to improve your approach to ensure you see traction and responses to your applications and networking; otherwise, the burnout and demotivation can come from hearing nothing back.
  2. First, seek to understand the best practices and where to spend your time wisely in your job search.
  3. Then, measure how you’re doing and assess where you can improve, each week.
  4. Translate any frustration into an opportunity to identify where exactly in the job search funnel that you can improve. 
  5. Whether it's landing first round interviews, or landing offers, with any issues you’re facing and noticing as a pattern in the job search process itself, you can turn that challenge into an insight of how to approach that part of the process differently. 
  6. With the same efforts you can expect the same results, so where can you gather feedback and/or new ideas and approaches?

Determine your accountability plan to make sure you're setting and tracking against goals, balancing your timespend across multiple key activities, and staying organized.

  1. Consider routines to make it easy to continuously put in time to your search. It’s not easy to find time or energy to do this in addition to a full time job, but start small with 30 minutes per week and you can always increase from there. Pick one day out of the week and set a time limit that is manageable as your starting point, and then discover other opportunities to add additional increments of time.
  2. Remember the difference between to do’s and time management. It’s critical to have goals for each type of activity you need to do in job search (i.e. how many networking outreaches you will send or applications to submit) but you should also consider breaking down your time per each of these activities in a digital or physical calendar. By structuring, time blocking, and proactively planning time for certain processes like networking, you’ll be sure it goes done, rather than relying on the “easy” thing to do which is online applications.
  3. Consider time management versus energy management. Figure out which days of the week or times of the day you are able to show up focused and intentional. It’s possible if you’re doing this late at night or not at an optimal time for your energy, it could affect the actions you’re taking. 
  4. While a job may be exhausting, what is in YOUR power to control? Is it exercise, hydration, nutrition, sleep, breaks in your day, taking walks/getting fresh air, meditation, journaling? Any and all forms of self care that you think would help are something to consider. Incorporate one small or new tactic at a time, try it out, see what helps, and keep tweaking your routine until it starts to feel better for you.
  5. Consider coworking with a peer or having another person (mentor, coach, peer, etc) to hold you accountable.

Be sure not to approach the job in a transactional, check-the-box sort of way.

  1. See networking and interviews as a mirror into the job you would land and an opportunity for two-way assessment of fit.
  2. If you're approaching the job search in a heads-down way, you'll be putting in the time and energy but risk continuously doing that without seeing results. 
  3. Once per week, take a step back to reflect on how you're doing and where you can improve. Self-awareness is key. Though it's not always comfortable to do, it can be pivotal to ensuring you're honest with yourself about what roles you should be going after or where you’re feeling most uncomfortable.
  4. It is possible you’re doing the activities that feel easier or more comfortable like applying online versus networking. Debunk any fears, hesitations, or limiting beliefs so you can follow the activities you know you need to be successful.

Consider the clarity of your ideal direction and how many varied roles and industries you're applying to.

  1. Too many options may be a sign that you'd want to take a step back and pursue career exploration to clarify your ideal fit direction.
  2. Career clarity will help make your search more efficient, targeted, and effective.
  3. Refind the joy in your job search by remembering that every role, industry, or organization you apply to is a choice. If you’re not engaged in what you’re pursuing, take a step back to consider if you need some more time clarifying what would both be suitable and interesting as a next step.
  4. Use research and learning as a means to uncover where you want to apply to next, versus just blindly continuing without reflecting on whether that path still engages you.
  5. Not only will it slow you down to feel disengaged in your job search, but interviewers can smell it if you’re trying to tell them what they want to hear, versus being genuinely intrigued by the work. 
  6. Imagine two candidates where one is authentically excited by the role and the other shows up unenthused or forcing and faking their interest. Which candidate do you think would get hired?

Do a project or a learning-based activity.

  1. This can drastically improve one's mental state during a job search. During a job search, we're in a "seeking" state but we often forget our value and skills that we already have to offer. 
  2. If you can do something productive and creative, it'll a) give you something to talk about during interviews b) show others you’re committed to pursuing that path c) remind and allow you to explore what work you want to pursue d) remind you of your skills and value and thus, improve your confidence.
  3. This might mean pursuing a course, certification, bootcamp, self-driven project, volunteering, shadowing, interning, consulting pro bono or freelance, or any other way of feeling productive and creative.

Don't ignore your self-care, which will ensure your mindset can stay resilient during your search. 

  1. Self care should be a part of your everyday routine.
  2. This might mean recognizing barriers like imposter syndrome or other feelings that directly get in your way.
  3. This means considering both physical health and mental health, like realizing the benefits from meditation or journaling. 
  4. You’d be surprised as to how taking some time to pause will enlighten your ability to have insights and more strategic next steps than you would otherwise.
  5. Stare at your “why” and what’s important to you about finding a new job. Put it on a postit (or multiple) and put them around your house where you can easily be reminded.
How To Deal With Burnout & Maintain Motivation During Your Job Search

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Rachel Serwetz’ early professional experience was at Goldman Sachs in Operations and at Bridgewater Associates in HR. From there, she was trained as a coach at NYU and became a certified coach through the International Coach Federation. After this, she worked in HR Research at Aon Hewitt and attained her Technology MBA at NYU Stern. Throughout her career, she has helped hundreds of professionals with career exploration and for the past 4.5+ years she has been building her company, WOKEN, which is an online career exploration platform to coach professionals through the process of clarifying their ideal job and career path. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Binghamton University and has served as a Career Coach through the Flatiron School, Columbia University, WeWork, and Project Activate.

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