Dealing with Job Search Fatigue

The same way we get tired of eating the same food every day, or doing the same tasks every day, we can get tired of sending out applications every day with no sign of any returns.

While it’s common to take a break here and there for a weekend with family or a movie to recharge, much more problematic is when your break turns into weeks or months on end and you still feel just as tired as when you started.

These are symptoms of job search fatigue, often accompanied by depressive thoughts like “Why should I bother?” and “I’m just going to be left hanging again anyway”. This can spiral into something even worse. Long-term jobseekers often report depression, anxiety and a lack of self-care as they lose hold of their motivation and drive.

How can you avoid becoming another statistic in the gloomy outlook? Here are the ways:

1. Protect your Identity with Other Activities

Remember: you are not your work. You have an identity outside of your job, or jobless, state.

In Asian societies, people tend to become entangled with their jobs, to the extent that the job defines who they are. Thus, when retrenched or having quit, they experience a primordial shift in identity that leaves them unbalanced and purposeless – and prey to job search fatigue.

Bolster your identity and sense of self with external activities. We recommend doing something similar to your job in an unpaid capacity. For example, a man who was retrenched from a law firm decided to provide advice to his relatives on their legal issues. Their words of thanks and praise supported him and reminded him of the value of his skills, even if he was not employed at that moment.

2. Don’t “burst apply”

Some candidates apply to hundreds of jobs in a day, then get depressed for weeks when no one replies. Remember that job searching is a marathon and not a sprint – a carefully selected, well-written cover letter accompanying a well-tailored resume is far more likely to get a callback than dozens of cut-and-paste applications.

Take the time and effort to make each and every application count. Read up about the job scope and the company, and include interesting points about yourself and its mission and values in your cover letter. You’re much more likely to score that way!

3. Seek Support and Community

You’re not the only jobseeker out there. So, go and connect with those like you! Even if you’re not in the same industry or rank, a supportive community group will help you through the hard days. They can also share jobsearching advice, tips and tricks, and get you in touch with relevant contacts.

4. Have a Jobsearch Routine

“You need some organisational strategies so you don’t take a day off every day,” suggests Dawn Norris, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and author of “Job Loss, Identity, and Mental Health”.

“I would suggest regularly scheduling a time for the job search. For example, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. ‘I will search and apply for at least one job.’ When you’re done, you take those breaks. The other really nice thing about that is that when you schedule it that way it feels like you’re going to work and this helps maintain your worker identity.”

She also suggested dressing for the job search as though you were going to the office. Not only will this reinforce the routine, you will feel more confident and productive dressed the way you were at the peak of your employee performance.

Ready to go for the long-haul in jobsearching? Your first step should be Jobscentral Virtual Career Fair 2022, register here. After all, you will be able to chat with employers directly to get a sense on cultural fit, and apply at the fair itself!