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How to Cope with the Stress of the Job Search

By Ang M.

Job searching can be a very stressful exercise. It’s hard enough to keep your confidence up after becoming unemployed, but then to job search and not hear anything back, or go for interviews and not get selected, puts stress on your mental health. Feelings of depression and anxiety while job searching are very common among job seekers – and can be compounded by the weather.

Grieve Your Loss

It’s okay to take some time after you get laid off to go through the grieving process. Understandably, your world has just been rocked sideways and it takes some time to get your feet back under you. You might question “why me?” or be sad or angry. You need to let yourself feel these emotions so when you are ready to start job searching you can do so with a clear mind. Holding that anger in will eventually cause you to have a darker outlook on potential job prospects which can come across in a job interview with a new employer. Take your feelings, feel them, and then work yourself back towards positivity. Maybe there’s a silver lining you hadn’t thought of before and this would be a good time to look for a change in direction.

Don’t Panic!

We are all hard-wired to work, and when we don’t have a job to go to every day, we can feel a little unmoored. Getting a job search routine in place will help you feel a bit more grounded. Decide what time of day you feel the most motivated and do your job search activities during that time. Create an action plan of what you need to achieve. Employment is the goal – but what steps do you need to take to achieve that goal? Some of the things you may need to start with could be:

  • Do you have, or are you able, to create a targeted resume and cover letter?

  • Do you have a template for a job search record? This will help you to keep track of where you have applied and for what positions. This is also a good record to have in case EI requires proof of your job search.

  • Do you have a LinkedIn account, and do you need one? Most professional fields use LinkedIn to network, display job postings, and recruit potential hires, so you will need to evaluate whether this could be a useful tool.

  • Do you know where to look for jobs? There are so many job boards available online it’s hard to know where to start. Think locally and look at what will work best for you. This may be by trial and error, but you will quickly see what will work best. Some sites you may want to consider are online job boards (like the CSE job board) and postings on Facebook, job search sites like, newspapers, and LinkedIn.

  • Evaluate your skills. What type of skills do you need for the work you are looking for, and do you have them? Do you need to upgrade your skills? There are many options for free training like TR Leger Literacy and Basics Skills programs or Employment Ontario Service Providers. Also check out the certifications CSE Consulting offers for options like WHMIS training or Smart Serve.

  • Are you prepared for an interview or do you need some practice? Set up some informational interviews or mock interviews to get some practice.

  • Do you have a portfolio that you can take to an interview to showcase or prove your skills?

  • Who do you know and where can you network? Using the iceberg analysis, jobs that are posted are just the tip of the iceberg that you see. Many jobs out there are not advertised (below the waterline), but you can find out about them through attending social events like job fairs and other networking events, cold calling, volunteering, and informational interviews – get creative!

Ask for Help!

If you are stuck and do not know where to turn, ask for help. Often, people avoid the job search until the last minute when their EI runs out. This adds to your stress and you may end up in a job that is not a great match for you. There are many great Employment Ontario offices all over Ontario that are there to assist you will all aspects of the job search process. CSE has offices in Prescott, Kemptville, and Brockville.

Get Physical!

While job searching is a full-time job, it’s important to take moments to relax, exercise and have fun! Take breaks to walk the dog or just go for a walk. Sit down and read a book or start a craft that you have been wanting to work on. Find time to self-reflect and focus on something other than job searching. Balance is the key to happy living!

Stay Positive!

There will be many ups and downs during your job search. You will ride the high of getting an interview and feel the lows of not being the selected candidate. In the employment services field, we call this the Job Search Rollercoaster. While these feelings are natural, do not become debilitated by the low points. Take them as learning opportunities and ask for feedback from interviewers on your interview style, areas you could improve on and the skills you have.

Not getting a job is not about you, sometimes there is someone else who is just a better fit or has a skill that an employer may really want that you have not developed yet. Don’t take the lows personally, pick yourself up, learn from the experience and move on to the next one. When you start to feel overwhelmed seek out a career professional to help you look at your situation objectively.

Again, job searching is a full-time job. Just because you need a job does not mean that one will be there waiting for you when you are ready. It takes work and commitment, so planning all stages is crucial to your success. A job search can take as long as six months or more, but if you are doing everything you can and have a creative job search strategy you can be guaranteed success!

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