Job Search Stress — 4 Ways to Control It

For many of us, our jobs can be part of how we define ourselves. They can give us a sense of belonging. They also provide us with our financial security. Because of this, a job search can be a major stressor. It tends to be challenging whether a person is unemployed, employed or even seeking career advancement.

If you or someone you care about is in the midst of a job search, here are some practical tips that can help reduce the stress levels during the endeavor.


1. Write down your financial plan. When your income dramatically changes, it can be helpful to write down your income, such as unemployment compensation or a part-time job, and your expenses, such as rent/mortgage, utilities, food and transportation. Also record your non-essential spending such as clothes and recreation. If you have a partner, she or he should be included in this process. Personal budget tools are available online. Microsoft offers a spreadsheet that can be used within the browser. You can use the lists to select expenses that you can cut for now or reasonably delay. Seeing how you might workout your budget can give you peace of mind.

2. Stay connected. Networking can help you find people who are hiring personnel or can connect you with the good contacts.

  • Join professional organizations related to your line of work. People you meet may have direct links to hiring personnel or managers in your field.
  • Take a class related to your job. You can network with classmates and the instructor. The class can also help you improve your skill set.
  • Visit with leaders in your professional area. Let them know you’re seeking employment and you’d like to draw upon their expertise for areas you might develop. You don’t have to ask about openings. If they happen to have an opening they feel you’d be a good fit for, they’ll likely let you know.
  • Volunteer for an organization that can use your skill set. Volunteering has a number of mental health benefits. Volunteers have lower mortality rates and lower rates of depression later in life. Older volunteers receive even greater benefits. Volunteering about 100 hours per year appears to yield the greatest health outcomes.
  • Join a job search group. Many can be found online. Sharing experiences with others in a similar situation reinforces that you’re not alone and provides emotional support. And you can share search tips and leads. The exchanges can be a boost for your mental health.

3. Take care of yourself. You can enhance your mental health with these simple steps:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Maintain a good diet
  • Exercise regularly

4. Measure your progress. Keep track of the jobs you apply for, the follow-up emails and calls, the interviews you’re invited to and the results. Looking back at your tracking will show that you are making progress toward your end goal. Give yourself small rewards for reaching milestones such as a certain number of applications, call backs or interviews.


Remember, every “Sorry, good luck” from a prospective employer takes you a step closer to your “Yes, you’re hired!”

For other ways to manage stress, learn seven ways to balance your body’s levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. And get ways to improve your stress management at

Meet the Author

Nick Pryomski, MD, is a family medicine physician at Aurora Health Center in Racine, WI. 

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The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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