3 Ways to Deal With Job Search Anxiety

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Searching for a new job can be an anxiety-provoking activity. This is especially true if you were suddenly laid off or fired. You likely feel pressure to find a job quickly so you can pay your bills and sustain your current level of living. However, this anxiety can spill over into the interview process and cause you to come across as a nervous wreck who doesn’t have the right skills for the job. If you want to make a good first impression, you’ll need to get a handle on your anxiety. Here’s how.

1. Understand what’s happening

Psychologist James Pann says when faced with a stressful situation, our body goes into overdrive. We immediately enter into “panic mode,” and our body prepares to fight or run away from a perceived threat. Consequently, we may start to sweat, get the shakes, and feel our heart pounding before and during a job interview. Pann said:

When it is comes to networking, interviewing, and other stressful job search events, many of us experience at least some of these signs and symptoms. When faced with significant physical or psychological stress, your body reacts with what is termed the “fight or flight response.” The response prepares your body for physical action through sympathetic nervous system arousal and an increased release of corticoids, which are stress hormones. Virtually all the systems in your body are affected, including the circulatory, pulmonary, immune, and nervous systems. The physical symptoms associated with this state include quickened and shallow breathing, stomach disturbance, muscle tension and increased pulse rate.

2. Visualize

relaxing, couch, happy, mood

Instead of worrying about everything that could go wrong during your interview, visualize a positive outcome. Imagine yourself making a great first impression and being offered the job. See yourself in a relaxed, happy state. If you can create a vision of yourself as confident and knowledgeable, you will appear more relaxed during your interview. It may also help to use a career vision board. One of the images could be a picture representing the job you want.

“By visualizing yourself as calm, using creative visualization techniques to relax, you can remove nagging anxiety, lower your blood pressure and overcome fears and phobias … If you’re lacking in self-belief and, for example, feel incapable of passing exams or overcoming obstacles in your life, you can call on creative visualization to strengthen your self-image and your belief in yourself. As you grow, you’ll naturally achieve the things you previously thought were impossible,” said author Robin Nixon.

3. Hire a career coach

A career coach can help you identify the right career track, polish interview skills, and offer resume advice. All you may need is a bit of coaching to push you in the right direction and ease your nerves.

“A coach gives you help tailored to you…and will help you develop new strategies and methods as you go along in the search…your coach is your personal sounding board and part of your unofficial board of directors,” said career development coach Joanne Meehl.

However, if you find that your anxiety is overwhelming and is starting to negatively affect other areas of your life, you may also want to talk to a mental health professional. Your difficulties could partly be due to an underlying anxiety disorder.

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