Coping with the “In Between” Phase of Job Transition and Unemployment: Part II20 May 2010 / By Truity Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on May 20, 2010
The stress of losing a job can be quickly overshadowed by the pressure of finding a new one. On average it can take anywhere from one to five months to successfully complete the search for a new job. But don’t let this discourage you. With a good handle on task management and effective prioritizing, it is very possible to compress your job search. The beginning stage of the search must begin with a positive outlook and hopeful attitude, because you will more assuredly be the next new hire if you are seen as someone who exhibits resiliency in the face of adversity.
An effective way to search for a new job is to create a schedule. Looking for employment can become a full-time job in itself and creating a specific time where you search during a given day and a definite ending point to when you stop can help to reduce stress and create more balance in your life. Stepping away from the work of searching for a new job and relaxing can help to recharge you making you more, not less, productive.
Knowing what should be accomplished while searching for a job and what to account for in your timeline can also help to reduce stress. It is a great idea to create a list of what responsibilities and tasks lay ahead of you. An example of some of the tasks that you will need to accomplish when job hunting is:
• Updating your resume and cover letter. If you are searching for jobs in more then one area of expertise make sure you have different versions intended for each type of job.
• The initial search can be conducted online through many career websites, or you may opt for looking in local area newspapers or calling prospective companies you may be interested in to enquire after possible jobs.
• Follow the protocol on the site in order to apply.
• Keep an ongoing list of places you have applied and make sure to check off when you have contacted them.
• Make a second contact with each employer to dually express your interest (unless of course they state specifically)
• When going for an interview, make sure to research the company and create questions to ask at the interview in order to show your interest.
• Make sure to thank each possible employer with a letter, card, email or voicemail expressing your gratitude for the opportunity to interview with them.
Managing your Timelines
Now that you have a set list of tasks, you now need to try and juggle them. The word juggle is often used when referring to time and task management and the reason is because many people try and take on too many responsibilities or “balls” at one time. Prioritizing the “shoulds” from the “musts” is an excellent step to take towards reducing stress when looking for a new job, or when approaching any task in your daily life.
Remember to allow enough time to complete each responsibility. Even though many of us like to imagine we are superheroes who can power through things quickly, it is just not the case. Sometimes it helps not to approach an entire problem or project, but rather to break these daunting tasks and goals into smaller more attainable ones. Along with breaking down tasks, prioritizing your time allows you the freedom to forgive yourself if you do not get to complete everything you aimed to. Try not to identify more then three “shoulds” on one to do list, setting you up for success rather then failure at the end of your day.
When under stress it can sometimes be difficult to do one of the most important things for ourselves, asking for help. Looking for a new job and being in a position where we are under financial, social and or interpersonal pressure to find work can sometimes lead to feelings of seclusion. It is hard to imagine that others can truly understand how we are feeling, sometimes leading to bitterness and to an even higher stress level. If you notice that you are having these symptoms of stress… stop! Ask for help as soon as possible. Examine what it is that you need to do in order to lessen your load and be honest about what you can delegate to others, allowing you to let go of unnecessary stress.
Control is a quality that many people who are highly stressed try to embody in their lives. Trying to control too many areas of your life can lead to poor delegation and inability to manage the tasks and time that you need to find a new job. Trying to do everything yourself, whether it be at home, school, your past job or in your family will inevitably lead to burnout. Job hunting is just one example of an area of life that demands that we address our stress in a productive and proactive manner. So let go, do only what you can and certainly celebrate your successes!