Job Search Anxiety: Understanding the Causes and Finding Solutions

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April 25, 2023
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min read

Feeling stressed about your job search? You're not alone. Job search anxiety is incredibly common, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. 

There are several aspects of the job search process that prompt these feelings, such as crafting the perfect resume and cover letter, preparing for job interviews, networking with potential employers, and waiting for a job offer.

These factors can all combine to impact your confidence and self-esteem. However, understanding and addressing the root of the problem can help you find the right position.

In this article, expect to:

  1. Walk away with a deeper understanding of what causes job search anxiety
  2. Identify the key triggers of job search anxiety and how to avoid them
  3. Learn coping strategies to make your job search more manageable 

What is job search anxiety?

Job search anxiety refers to the discomfort that people experience while searching for employment. It can happen to anyone, regardless of their experience or qualifications, and it's a natural response to the challenges of finding employment.

Factors that contribute to job search anxiety include:

  • Financial pressures
  • Fear of rejection
  • Lack of control over the outcome
  • Social comparisons

Furthermore, job searching can be a long and arduous journey, creating an emotional strain that impacts your mental and physical health. Recognizing and managing your depression or anxiety can help you stay motivated, confident, and resilient during your search.

Causes of job search anxiety

Job search depression and anxiety can stem from various factors, including external and internal pressures. Externally, the competitive market, economic instability, and difficulty finding suitable openings may prevent you from keeping a consistent job hunt.

Additionally, you may feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the process, such as crafting a compelling resume and concise cover letter, researching the company, networking, and preparing for interviews.

Internally, job search anxiety can be triggered by negativity, self-doubt, and fear of failure or rejection.

By recognizing the causes of your anxiety, you can develop coping strategies to manage that anxiety and stay focused on your job search goals.

Common triggers of job search anxiety

If you’re feeling extra stressed about your job search lately, it might have been triggered by certain events or milestones. Don't worry—it's all normal.

The good news is identifying these triggers can help you better manage stress. If you know what sets you off, you can prepare to face challenges with more confidence and calm.

In this post, we'll explore common job search triggers that spike anxiety and simple strategies to overcome them. Remember—you've got this. Awareness and planning is the key to slaying self-doubt and keeping motivation high. 

Below are some common triggers and why they arise.

Job interviews

The job interview process is a common trigger for several reasons:

  • They involve a high level of scrutiny and evaluation
  • The fear of being judged or rejected can lead to feelings of self-doubt
  • The pressure to make a good impression and to effectively communicate one's skills and experiences can be overwhelming
  • The need to answer difficult or unexpected questions on the spot can increase your worry of making mistakes or saying the wrong thing
  • The possibility of being asked to complete a skills test or presentation during the interview

There are a lot of unknowns when you walk into an interview, and those unknowns are the root of many people's job-hunting worries.


Speaking of unknowns... uncertainty is a big trigger, regardless of a person's situation.

Uncertainty is a major trigger because it creates a sense of instability and unpredictability. The need for clarity around when or if you receive an offer can be particularly stressful, especially for individuals who are in a period of transition or who are experiencing financial difficulties. Keep in mind, it's highly unlikely to find a job overnight, and that's okay!

The ambiguity around the specific job requirements or the application process can also contribute to your stress. For example, if a job posting has vague or incomplete information, this can lead to confusion and feelings of uncertainty about what the employer is looking for.

Moreover, the current job market and state of the economy can add to the sense of uncertainty, as economic downturns or industry changes can lead to fewer job openings and increased competition for positions.


People often compare themselves to one another as they seek validation and confirmation that they are on the right track with their job hunt. This tendency can be particularly strong when individuals perceive others as successful in finding a new job.

Comparing oneself to others can lead to:

  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • The pressure to keep up with others
  • Stress that you are not doing enough
  • Overthinking about presenting yourself in the best possible light

Ultimately, the practice of comparing yourself to others can be detrimental to your well-being and career planning, so be mindful when those comparisons start to creep in.

Coping strategies for job search anxiety

Engaging in healthy coping strategies can help to make your job hunt more manageable, allowing you to stay focused and motivated on your goals. These strategies can help you reduce anxiety, increase resilience, and create a more positive experience as you fill out job applications.

Below are a few strategies to incorporate while job searching.

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques 

Meditation is a practice that involves training the mind to focus and redirect thoughts, often using breathing techniques or visualizations.

There are numerous benefits to meditation, including:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Increasing self-awareness and concentration
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Enhancing overall well-being

By focusing on the present moment and letting go of worries and fears about the future, you can cultivate a sense of calm and inner peace.

To incorporate meditation into your daily routine, follow these steps:

  • Find a quiet space where you can sit in a comfortable position without being disturbed
  • Set a timer for your desired meditation time (start with 5-10 minutes if you're new to meditation)
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to settle into the space
  • Begin to focus on your breath, noticing the sensation of air entering and leaving your body
  • If your mind begins to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath

By slowing things down for a few minutes a day, you will start to notice a positive change.

Exercise and physical activity

Exercise offers numerous benefits for both physical and mental health.

Regular physical activity can improve your cardiovascular health, boost your energy levels, promote better sleep, and enhance your mood.

Engaging in physical activity releases endorphins, or chemicals in the brain that help improve your mood. Exercise can also be a healthy distraction, allowing individuals to slow down and focus on their physical health.

Additionally, participating in group exercise activities such as yoga or dance classes can provide social support and help individuals feel connected to others.

Seeking support from family and friends

To combat job hunting depression, having a support system can help you feel less isolated.

Sharing concerns and fears with loved ones can provide a sense of relief, as well as help you gain perspective on the situation, feel encouraged, and increase your own confidence in your ability to navigate difficult situations.

Think of the people in your life who provide the most support, and don't be afraid to reach out to them.

Reframing negative thoughts

Negative thoughts can be overwhelming and lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

One way to reframe those negative thoughts is to practice cognitive restructuring, which involves identifying and challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive or realistic ones. For example, instead of thinking, "I'll never find an opportunity," try thinking, "What I'm doing is challenging, but I'm taking steps to improve my chances every day."

Another helpful strategy is to focus on strengths and accomplishments rather than perceived weaknesses or failures. This can help to boost confidence and increase motivation, and is useful, as it helps you practice self-compassion and reminds yourself that setbacks are a natural part of the journey.

Focusing on small, achievable goals

By setting and accomplishing small goals, you can build momentum and increase confidence in your ability to achieve larger goals.

One way to tackle small goals is to create a daily or weekly to-do list. This list can include tasks such as researching job opportunities, updating your resume, or networking with contacts.

Another way to create a more manageable process is to focus on building skills or knowledge that will make you a stronger candidate for job opportunities. This can include taking an online course or attending a job-related workshop.

It's important to celebrate and acknowledge your accomplishments along the way, no matter how small they may seem. By focusing on small, achievable goals, you can increase your motivation to continue moving forward.

How to overcome job search anxiety

Overcoming job search anxiety requires a multi-faceted approach that includes both practical and emotional strategies.

With persistence, support, a positive mindset, and the right tools, you can successfully overcome job search anxiety and find meaningful employment.

Break down the job search process into smaller tasks

As mentioned above, tackling a big challenge by breaking it down into smaller, manageable tasks helps you create attainable goals while you're searching for a new job.

Take these steps to start making progress with your search:

  • Identify what you want in your next job
  • Decide what types of roles you want to apply for
  • Decide what industry you’d like to work in
  • Make a target list of companies that you’d love to track (those you're interested in working for)
  • Review and update your resume
  • Use only the experience and skills that best suit your desired industry or role
  • Use Teal's AI Resume Builder to use ATS-friendly templates and create a strategic resume, quickly
  • Tailor your resume each time you apply for a job so it reflects your skills and experience as they relate to the job description

For a more in-depth guide, learn how to create a strategic job search plan with these steps.

Using Teal's software, you can build an exhaustive list detailing your work experience, and it will all be saved in your Career History for you to pick and choose from as needed.

Index and update details about your entire career history in Teal's Career History.
Index and update details about your entire career history in Teal's Career History.

Create a routine and structure for job search activities

Adding routine and structure into your life can help improve your overall health and well-being. Routines give us a sense of predictability and accomplishment and can also act as an anchor for your day.

When searching for a job, it's important to approach it the same way you approach other routines, like getting ready in the morning or planning meals.

When seeking out new positions, Teal's Job Application Tracker is an effective tool that can help add a routine to your search.

Use Teal’s Free Job Application Tracker to help you organize and manage your job search.
Use Teal’s Free Job Application Tracker to help you organize and manage your job search.

With the free tool, you can manage all your job postings and applications in one place, keeping track of every milestone you reach throughout the hiring process. 

Additionally, installing the Chrome extension can save you time by bookmarking jobs you're interested in right from your browser.

Network and seek advice from professionals

Networking is a powerful tool for job seekers, and many people look to their personal and professional network, and maybe even a career coach, career counselor or career support group, to give them a step up with job hunting.

View our list of The Top Career Coaches to follow on LinkedIn to make connections and expand your network.

Before you can network effectively on LinkedIn, however, you need to make sure your profile is optimized

Teal offers a number of ways to enhance your LinkedIn experience, from optimizing your profile to helping you with cold outreach and recommendation requests.

By using Teal's LinkedIn Profile Review tool, you:

  • Identify the sections that need improving
  • Receive tips on how to enhance those sections
  • Appear higher in LinkedIn search results
  • Stand out to recruiters
Teal’s Free LinkedIn Profile Review Chrome Extension.
Teal’s Free LinkedIn Profile Review Chrome Extension.

Once your LinkedIn profile is fully optimized, you can feel confident using the tool to connect and engage with recruiters and like-minded professionals. 

You’ll also significantly increase your chances of receiving inbound job recommendations from recruiters. 

Ask for LinkedIn recommendations

The benefit of having recommendations on your LinkedIn page is they act as testimonials that give recruiters, hiring managers, and potential connections additional information about your career path, experience, skill set, and personality.

When asking someone for a recommendation, consider:

  • Your relationship
  • How much they can speak about your career
  • The time it takes to give a recommendation
  • Offering gratitude or a recommendation in return

To prepare your outreach, browse through the communication templates in Teal's Job Application Tracker  and choose one that can be best customized to your intended outreach.

Within Teal’s Job Application Tracker, use templates to stay professional and timely in all of your communications.
Within Teal’s Job Application Tracker, use templates to stay professional and timely in all of your communications.

Your job search companion

Finding the perfect job is no longer as stressful with tools like Teal. By signing up for a free account, you can access resume templates, a job tracker tool, artificial intelligence that can assist with resume and cover letter creation, and more.

By incorporating all of Teal's tools, the job search becomes more efficient, and you become more likely to land an interview and, eventually, your dream job.

Sign up for a free Teal account, or upgrade to Teal+.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I differentiate between normal job search stress and job search anxiety?

Normal job search stress is a common reaction to the uncertainties of job hunting and typically subsides once you complete a task, like submitting an application or finishing an interview. Job search anxiety, on the other hand, is more persistent and can interfere with your ability to conduct your search effectively. It may manifest as excessive worry, avoidance of applying, or difficulty concentrating on the tasks at hand. Recognizing this difference is crucial in seeking appropriate solutions, such as professional help if anxiety becomes overwhelming.

What are some strategies to manage job search anxiety on a daily basis?

To manage job search anxiety daily, establish a routine that includes dedicated job search hours, balanced with breaks and leisure activities. Practice mindfulness and deep breathing exercises to stay grounded. Set realistic goals and celebrate small victories to maintain motivation. Additionally, networking with peers can provide a sense of community and shared experience, which can alleviate feelings of isolation and stress.

Can job search anxiety have long-term effects on my career prospects?

If not addressed, job search anxiety can have long-term effects by potentially prolonging the job hunt or leading to hasty decisions that may not align with your career goals. Chronic anxiety can also impact your self-confidence and interview performance. It's important to find coping mechanisms and possibly seek professional guidance to ensure that anxiety does not derail your career trajectory and that you can present your best self to potential employers.

Lindsay Patton

Lindsay Patton is a journalist, adjunct professor, podcast host and digital communicator who specializes in business and career growth.

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