Burned Out From the Job Search? Here’s What You Can Do

Advice for coping with job search burnout and taking a more sustainable approach to job hunting.

If you’re frustrated, experiencing job search anxiety, maybe feeling depressed from a recent rejection, or the thought of sending another resume overwhelms you, this resource is for you. 

Searching and applying for a new job requires time and energy. It also introduces a lot of uncertainty in your life that can be exhausting and, sometimes, leads to burnout.

“I have SO been there. It is exhausting, energy-depleting, and frustrating,” expressed one Elpha member .

Another Elpha added , “To constantly hear about open positions, apply for them, interview, then get rejected is a story that is not unique to me. I’ve been trying to not let it get to me but, after a while, it’s truly demoralizing.”

If you’re experiencing burnout from the job search, we want you to know that we understand, and so do other Elpha members. 💜

Here’s some of the best advice we’ve gathered from the Elpha community on the steps they’ve taken to cope with job search burnout and take a more sustainable approach to job hunting.

  1. Understand your relationship with rejection

  2. Invest in stress-reducing confidence boosters  

  3. Build self-care into your job search

Understand your relationship to rejection

You’ve probably had to deal with rejection, and that’s tough! But, it’s also an inevitable part of the job search process. 

“Rejection will be a part of the job search process and it’s a sh***y feeling. But it doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks. I tell my job search clients to keep applying and interviewing nonstop until they sign an offer. This helps keep their confidence up when rejections inevitably come because they know there are more opportunities in their job funnel,” said Stephanie Ciccone-Nascimento, Founder & Job Search Coach at Coconut Coaching.

Understandably, you feel discouraged after getting rejected and you aren’t alone in that feeling. Sarah Bartley, Front-end Web Developer, shared how she's dealt with her job search frustrations by getting perspective from people she admires.

“Avi Flombaum (founder of the Flatiron School) made a good point during one of the webinars I attended about finding a job since he said job postings are basically describing a unicorn. Then, Saron from CodeNewbie did a FB live last year and she said finding a job is tough. But she said all that matters is the one ‘yes’, so it’s important to just keep trying and not let the rejections keep you down.”

Sarah also emphasized that participating in communities – like Elpha – has helped her cope with rejection.  💪

“Surrounding myself with people who have been in the same situation or are in the same situation makes me feel less depressed. Many of the people I've met have been so helpful, from alerting me about specific job postings to just encouraging me to keep trying.”

Rejection can also become a learning opportunity. For example, you can reach out or follow up with the hiring manager to ask for advice or feedback. Also, consider the role itself and how your skills match the requirements. Though most roles are aspirational, they may have a few key non-negotiables. See if you can spot where you are not aligned and keep that in consideration. ✅

In this process, remember to also think about how the role fits YOU and not just the other way around. Each rejection will be an opportunity to reflect on what it is you want in your next role. Sometimes, it takes getting rejected to realize that a job posting wouldn’t have been a good fit:

  • It was a remote job but deep down you knew you weren’t really aligned with the mission;

  • It was an opportunity at a prestigious company, but continuing in that industry would only have deviated from your plan to pivot; 

  • The pay was great but the company had many red flags in the interview process.

Katie Infante can definitely relate since she’s found herself in that position in the past,

“The truth is, I haven't wanted every role I've applied to. Would you say that's true for you, too? I've definitely applied to several that I am way overqualified for and whose job descriptions were so dull and simple, it was almost impossible to write a cover letter that sounded remotely excited. And when those come back with "We've decided to go with another candidate," I have to admit, I'm a little relieved.”

Rejection might also force you to take a pause and reevaluate what your “dream job” really is. You may discover that you’ve been limiting yourself and your potential! 🚀

“Being rejected has also helped me widen my search to other roles besides the narrow list I'd started out with. I've found that bringing that question to Elpha was also personally helpful a couple of weeks ago: "These are my skill sets – What else can I do?" I got suggestions for roles I'd never even heard of. And I realized that my dream job wasn't my only dream job at all,” shared Katie.

Reena Badyal, Product at Rhithm, shared how rejection has also made her adjust her job search

“Getting rejected has made me wonder if maybe what I'm looking for is a different flavor of product management than what I've been interviewing for, or maybe there are slightly different jobs and titles that are better for me.”

Now that we’ve seen why rejection can be a good thing, imagine yourself in the future looking back at this time. Envision that successful version of yourself and write down what future you might say to present you. This might feel uncomfortable, but you are the best person to give you the positive affirmations you need. 

👉  Learn more about how to turn rejection into resilience in this Elpha Spotlight post .

Invest in stress-reducing confidence boosters

Now that you have some kind words from a future you, let’s keep that confidence going with 3 short exercises. ✍️

  1. Reach out to 2-3 friends, family members or coworkers and ask them what they think you are uniquely good at. Consider integrating these observations into your resume/cover letters, and write them down.

  2. When you are having a moment of positivity and confidence, write down the skills and qualities you feel make you a fit for the jobs you’re applying for.

  3. Write a short story imagining the next month and the ideal possible outcomes from your job search. Optimism can provide an energy bump to continue your job search with more confidence.

Take your writing from the three steps above, and save it somewhere so you can refer back to it when you’re feeling uncertain about your skills or the value you bring to a team.

Build self-care into your job search

Your job hunt doesn’t have to lead to burnout.

Take a moment to think about what led you to this article. Write down the actions you are taking to search for a role. What steps are you taking and how successful have those actions been? What emotions are you experiencing?  

As you reflect on this information, know that you are already taking an important step right now by looking for outside help as you tackle the job hunt. So, breathe and give yourself an actual self-hug! 🤗 

Set weekly goals for yourself and don’t try to exceed expectations. Set a reasonable goal you can comfortably accomplish for the week, like applying for 3 jobs, reaching out to 3 contacts for informational interviews, or writing 1 customized resume per week to fit different types of roles.

Diane Prince, Business Consultant for Staffing and Recruitment, suggested making a daily list of everything that you accomplished each day – kind of like a reverse to-do list :

“Honoring the steps that you take, instead of the results that you can't control may make you realize how much you are actually doing to take care of yourself and feel less trapped.”

You may be pressed for time to find your next role and that is valid! But when we do too much, it inevitably leads to doing nothing at all to balance out that spent energy.

So, see if you can take a more modest approach – be the turtle, not the hare. Do it at a pace that is sustainable for you. 🐢

“While it may seem counter-intuitive, scheduling days for hunting, and days for applying helps massively! It helps to alleviate the stress of doing it day in and day out. For example, I would 'hunt' on Thursdays and apply on Mondays or Tuesdays,” said Rena O’Brien, Chief of Staff at L + R.

Getting organized with your job search will help you have the clarity you need to continue without ending up in burnout. Here is a super practical Job Search Tracker template that Naomi , Sales Ops Manager at Nextmv and Community Manager at Elpha, used to keep her notes organized and on track during her job search. 📝

Network and have conversations with people whose jobs you find interesting. They don’t even need to be roles you think you want. But, anyone who inspires you is going to fill your cup right now. Use LunchClub or Elpha’s Asks / Offers communities to meet new people and create new pathways toward your next role.

Amanda Damewood, Director of User Experience, put it simply : networking means meeting people and seeing if you have mutual needs or interests,

“You could meet someone at an after-work event and when they talk about a problem at work, you think of a Medium post you read that's relevant and follow up and share it afterward but never talk again. Or you could meet someone who's hiring, connect on LinkedIn, end up at the top of the pile, get an interview, and maybe the job.”

✍️ Here’s how Morgan Lucas turned to blogging as a powerful form of networking .

Every day, at the end of the day, write down at least one thing you are grateful for. Practicing gratitude has been proven to improve one’s happiness, leaving less room for negative thoughts.

Take a walk – getting fresh air, moving your body, and getting away from your house are all ways to increase your brain’s ability to be creative and productive . 🎨

If you don’t have a job right now, remember that not having one does not define who you are or detract value from your accomplishments. Nadine Halabi, Energy System Engineer, shared some of the ways she maintained a positive mindset during her job search period, 

“I remind myself that this downtime is rare and I should embrace it now because it won't be forever! I'm also trying new hobbies that I never had time to do while I was at my old gig. Lean into your support systems! I joined Elpha and I'm finding this community to be very supportive!” 💜

Here are a few bonus coping strategies that have helped Michelle Fernandez, Product Operations Manager, through the job application process:

  • Find accountability partners or groups

  • Lean on communities. Even if it’s a vent post, getting support or hearing words of encouragement helps lift spirits

  • Join Slack groups – lots of jobs are posted in channels directly from HM or employees at the company

  • Make yourself visible. Show up where your dream companies are hosting events, ask questions during Q&A (or Elpha Office Hours ), comment/like on their posts, etc.

Job searching is hard, but you don’t have to go at it alone. We hope that these tips can help you find the motivation and support you need throughout the job search process. 💪

👀 Ready to explore more jobs? Join the Elpha Talent Pool to discover jobs that are a match for your skills and values. 

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