Dealing With Job Search Stress — By Mark Baber

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This article highlights how job search distress can be managed, in order to deliver good employment results — based on observations by 20+ year executive search expert Mark Baber.


Conventional wisdom surrounding a person’s responses to job search pressure typically revolve around two behavior models: The type A personality, who is consumed with anxiety over job hunt pressures and becomes angry and unreasonable; and the type B personality, who remains unaffected by unemployment and carries on with business as usual, ignoring important tasks required to find a new job.

However, among psychologists, a third type of personality has emerged: type C personalities, people who actually thrive on pressure, turning in their best work under stressful circumstances. The big difference between type C and types A and B personalties seems to be the ability to commit to job search tasks without making the process about their own inflated egos; suggesting they do not get angry at the work ahead nor bury job search focus under time consuming unrelated chores.

Apparently, the type A personality unconsciously ties their feelings of self-worth to success at work and career. So when a situation arises that puts workplace or job hunt performance pressure on this type of person, they perceive it as a threat to their self-image – meaning their own self-worth – and from that measure respond with fear and panic.

The type B personality successfully avoids tying up their self-image with their lack of employment, in such a way that they are emotionally disengaged from job search activities and pursuit of a solid career. While the type B personality does not give in to the anger and mania that affect a type A, they also have little motivation to step up to the plate and deliver if job search circumstances demand extra commitment.

The type C personality, on the other hand, seems able to commit to whatever time and effort is required to bring in a job search goal on a tight schedule and budget.

Many of us would like to be that resourceful type C personality; and the truth is… even if you are currently a type A or type B, you can become a type C personality by consciously choosing how to respond to stress filled job search situations, instead of simply reacting from emotional upset or becoming disconnected from required employment seeking tasks. It takes discipline, willpower and presence of mind to choose to respond in a mature, productive fashion; but with practice, those personality skills can become habit, and your job search life will change for the better.

A major part of becoming a type C personality is to recognize vicious cycles in your behavior. Like the telltale signs that you are entering a destructive cycle of emotion motivated reactions to pressure filled job search situations. That may be when your emotions kick into overdrive, and you become an abusive, overbearing person; or in the case of a type B personality, when your emotions shut down and you simply refuse to invest in what’s going on around you. Learn to spot the symptoms that signal the start of these workplace seeking cycles. For example, when such pressures arrive some people start losing sleep, or drinking too much coffee or alcohol. Just as some people turn inside themselves, and stop communicating and socializing with others. Whatever the early behaviors that signal to you that you are starting a vicious cycle of negative, anti job search behavior, you can notice these symptoms and thereby prevent yourself from generating non-productive, self-defeating job search behavior patterns before they take over. If not, the chances you will greatly extend the organization and roll-out of a unsatisfying job search campaign is very likely.

But simple recognition of these early signs of unhealthy behavior towards your job search is not enough. These behaviors are habits, and like all habits are very hard to break, unless you replace them with other habits. Put positive, productive job search behaviors in place of the unhealthy ones, and you will find that your entire outlook on life, and not just your employment search, will change. For instance, if you normally lie awake nights during pressure periods, worrying about aspects of situations beyond your control, you might get out of bed and work on job search tasks you require to complete. Such activities, for many people, takes the power out of problems, and solutions sometime result, and the job search advances. So if you feel yourself withdrawing from work on your search for a good job, if circumstances get tense, try communicating with someone – a job search counselor or advisor, or a friend, or your spouse or a  loved one – about your desire to isolate yourself from your stress filled job search. Again, just saying out loud what the problem is can often take away much of the power that it has over your emotions.

In order to move successfully a less stressful job search scenario, you must be willing to follow the principles of the three Cs – commitment, confidence and control. It is through these three principles that you may build a framework by which you can make those conscious decisions to behave in a productive fashion.

Of course, managing an unruly personality is no small job search task. Especially knowing all tedious employment campaign tasks must be performed in order to generate a job offer within your chosen vocation. And there are many effective tactics to use to help you manage the pressures, to create the peace of mind required and focus to fully organize and implement your job search. Examples of such ‘tactics’ being to find yourself a good stress management program, and follow a healthy diet, and put into practice regular exercise and relaxation techniques.

For many of us, a job search is a high pressure situation. Assure yourself that your employment search decisions are based upon your commitment to get the best job out there, and not to simply exercise your frustrations of having to find a new job. Do that, and you may find more focus and energy to complete job search research, and development required hiring materials, and generate job search correspondence, set job interviews, and perform job interview call backs, and other details that must be handled professionally in order for an employer to conclude that you are the kind of person that they want to have in their company. In truth, you are that person now or you would not be reading this article. So just remember… there is no better way to get a job than to be exactly what they are looking for.