If you’ve been on the job market for more than about six months, you may be experiencing a few feelings and reactions that are very common among job seekers at this stage. These symptoms of job search fatigue aren’t unique — in fact, they’re almost universal — but they can still have a very damaging effect on your motivation and your sense of what is and isn’t normal. If you experience any of these harmful side effects of an extended job search, fight back.
1. Symptom: The expectation of silence.
Response: Continue to follow up, and take each application as seriously as the last one.
After submitting fifty resumes and not hearing a single word in response, some job seekers start to expect silence, and this attitude can cause them to cut corners on their submissions and applications. After all, if nobody even reads a resume, what’s the harm in a single typo? Why spring for a professional editor? Avoid this kind of thinking. Silence is a common part of the standard job search process. Don’t confuse it with rejection or defeat.
2. Symptom: An urge to exaggerate resume claims. Response: Stay focused on your real accomplishments.
You’re a professional, and you’re great at what you do. Your accomplishments speak for themselves. There’s no need to accept the risks that come with bending and stretching the truth.
3. Symptom: Loss of confidence. Response: Remember that you aren’t alone.
Find other job seekers, in real life or online, and stay in touch in to maintain your perspective. No matter how steep your climb may feel, there are plenty of others all around you who face steeper climbs than you. If they can summon the courage to stay positive and focused, you can too.
4. Symptom: Reduced expectations. Response: Remember that over qualification can be grounds for rejection.
If you’re a mid-career professional and you’re feeling the urge to lower your expectations and apply for entry level jobs, that’s fine…but if you’re turned away from these positions, realize it isn’t because you’re unqualified. It’s because you’re too expensive, and employers aren’t sure why you’re choosing this course of action when you could clearly aim higher.
5. Symptom: Reduced salary standards. Response: Be stubborn.
Money is serious. No matter what you’re offering to do, you need to be paid what you’re worth. Don’t accept a salary that you can’t live with, and unless you’re volunteering for a non-profit organization, never, ever work for free. Unpaid internships are not for seasoned, educated professionals. Don’t allow yourself to be exploited by a company that could easily pay for your work but chooses not to.
6. Symptom: The urge to move or go back to school. Response: Place your feelings in a context and think carefully before you act.
Change is good, and a complete career shift might be just what you need. But don’t let a moment of panic or desperation drive you into a decision you may later regret. Before you make any big move, make sure you’re doing so with a cool head and a clear understanding of the financial and personal risks involved.
7. Symptom: Seeing a widened range of options and possibilities. Response: This is good. Keep doing it.
There is one truly positive and beneficial symptom of job search fatigue: It often pushes job seekers off of a rigid, scripted life path drawn around a very narrow definition of “success”. Maybe you once felt that you would simply die if you didn’t work as a senior level systems analyst for a Fortune 500 company. That was your only option, and anything else represented complete and utter defeat.
But it’s time to grow out of this mindset. And sometimes the only thing that can set us free from a toxic idea is a healthy dose of job search fatigue. If you feel yourself opening up to alternative career paths and new possibilities, that means that your career — and your life — are on the right track. You’re growing. And though the options you face may seem unconventional, or even a little frightening, you’re heading in the right direction.
Keep Moving Forward
Fatigue or no fatigue, don’t sit down in the middle of the road. Keep moving. And remember, no matter where your job search journey takes you, you aren’t alone. Visit LiveCareer for encouragement, perspective, and the tips, tools, and resources you need to make the most of your talent and potential.