Dealing with job search fatigue? Here’s what you can do

Last updated: June 17, 2024
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Rochelly Fajardo
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Dealing with job search fatigue? Here’s what you can do
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Searching for a job is exhausting. Whether you’re at the beginning of your job-hunting journey or you’ve been searching for a while, it can be frustrating to live in this type of uncertainty.

So what do you do when your job search is going nowhere? It can get extremely difficult to keep motivated when it seems like nothing is moving forward.

If you’re struggling with job search fatigue, you’re not alone. Let’s discuss what to do when it feels like your job search is going nowhere.

What is job search fatigue?

Job search fatigue describes when you’re feeling burnt out or overwhelmed after spending so much time looking for a job. When you feel that your job search is going nowhere despite your best efforts, you can develop job search fatigue.

People with job search fatigue may feel a lack of motivation to keep up with the job search. This is especially common if someone continually struggles to land an interview.

Plus, job search fatigue can develop into more serious issues over time. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, approximately half of the unemployed adults in the US who are looking for a job feel pessimistic about their future job prospects. And 56% of them experienced more emotional or mental health issues than usual.

For instance, 70% felt more stressed than usual. 53% felt like they had lost a part of their identity. These challenges can affect not just your job search but your overall quality of life.

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Why is job searching so draining?

It’s common to feel exhausted when searching for a job without any positive results. If you feel like you’re developing job search fatigue, you’re not alone.

Job seekers have several challenges to overcome as they hunt down job opportunities. For instance, applicant tracking systems will often strike out perfectly capable candidates just because their resumes don’t include the right keywords. This adds another barrier to getting to the interview stage.

Many job seekers also experience prospective employer ghosting. This means a potential employer stops all communication with you after an interview, despite your follow-ups.

Even when it feels like you nailed your interview, some employers still completely ghost candidates. Because of this, you’re stuck in uncertainty, not knowing if you’ll hear from them again. Constantly feeling stuck in this space can put a strain on your mental health.

It's also a big challenge for folks to search for jobs over a long period of time, especially when you don’t have a defined timeline for when you’ll work again. It’s nearly impossible to make any long-term financial life plans when you have no idea what type of wage you’ll make (or when you’ll start making it).

Long-term unemployment and hunting for your next role can also put a strain on your relationships if other people struggle to be supportive of your efforts. This is especially true if someone is helping you out financially while you look for a job.

Finally, it’s important to understand that the work that goes into searching for a job is similar to a full-time job. When you spend all day refining your resume, attending job fairs or hiring events, and running from one interview to another, you’re working. The difference is that you don’t get compensated for your work, so it’s normal to feel drained.

With all that said, you don’t have to stay trapped with job search fatigue. Here are seven tips to help you get through job search fatigue and keep persevering, despite the feeling that your job search is going nowhere.

While it may seem counterintuitive to take a break from your job search, it can help you in the long term if you’re feeling burnt out. Yes, it’s okay to take a break. Stepping back from a job search process that’s draining your energy isn’t lazy, and it’s not giving up, either.

Give yourself time to breathe, rest, and get your head back in the game. Spend some time doing activities you’ve always wished you had time to do. It helps to set a date on your calendar for when you’ll start your job search again.

Taking a break from your job search can help you avoid burning yourself out. Recovering from burnout can take days, weeks, months, or even years if you’re pushed too far. It’s better to take a break now than to experience too much emotional exhaustion and feel unable to work later.

2. Talk to other people in your network

If you’re deep in your job search, you’re likely spending lots of time in front of your computer applying for jobs online. It can help to talk to other people in your network, whether that’s online or in person.

Spend some time talking to regular people, too — not just employers or people who could get you a foot in the door at a company. Don’t put too much pressure or expectations on these conversations. Just give yourself the goal of checking in with others to catch up. Plus, this will help you keep your network active.

Some people you could talk to in your network include:

  • Colleagues from a past job.

  • Friends of friends.

  • Connections you met on Jobcase or at networking events.

Talking to others without putting too many expectations for specific results helps you get perspective and hear other points of view. It’s also a great way to refresh your mind and give you something else to think about.

Add people you know on Jobcase and join conversations in the community if you don’t have many people to talk to. You may learn about other ways in which other job seekers deal with a job search that’s going nowhere.

3. Go back to the fundamentals

When your job search is going nowhere, and you’ve taken a break, it’s a good idea to go back to the drawing board once you’re ready to start again.

Review your job search methods. Are you searching in the right places and job boards? Are you signed up for automated reminders when new job listings appear near you? Do you take the time to meet managers in person when you’re applying for jobs that aren’t work-from-home opportunities?

Next, take a look at your resume. Is your resume optimized and free of typos? Get someone else to look at your resume for a second opinion if you’re not sure. It’s easy to miss mistakes when you’ve been staring at the same document for hours.

Additionally, are you following job listing instructions? Some job listings will provide you with specific instructions hidden in a single phrase to make sure that candidates have good attention to detail.

Finally, are your social media profiles appropriate? Do a sweep of your social media profiles, and make sure to remove any unprofessional photos or comments if you have any. Take the time to add your career objective or career goals to your professional profiles, like on Jobcase.

4. Apply to fewer jobs

Like taking a break, applying to fewer jobs may seem counterintuitive at first. Job applications are partly a numbers game.

But if your job search is going nowhere, you might need a different approach.

Spend more of your time on fewer job applications so that you can make each one as great as it needs to be to get the attention of hiring managers. For example, take the time to customize your resume for each job application. You should also customize each cover letter you write.

What if job postings don’t ask for a cover letter? Write one anyway. If the job listing only lets you upload a single document for your resume, include your cover letter in the same document.

Apply to the jobs that interest you the most. You’ll feel more motivated to give your maximum effort to these opportunities. For instance, you’ll have time to research the company and its values to tailor your application.

5. Develop new skills

Because you’re applying for fewer jobs, you should also set some time aside for developing in-demand skills employers are looking for.

You don’t have to go back to college to upskill yourself. Many colleges offer their online classes for free, such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and many others.

You can also find free online certifications and training resources that aren’t from colleges.

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Of course, you can’t develop every in-demand skill at once. To choose what to work on, start by looking at what the most in-demand skills are right now.

Next, look at each skill and consider how you feel about it. You’ll feel more interest in some skills than others. You should also consider whether you’ll enjoy the careers that you can get with these skills.

For example, digital marketing skills like web analytics and search engine optimization are in demand. But do you feel drawn to these skills? Do you see yourself enjoying working in digital marketing? If not, keep looking — there are plenty of potential skills and careers you can look into.

6. Start a side gig to motivate yourself

One of the most draining experiences of job searching is the lack of income. Getting busy and getting some income rolling in can help with your motivation. It can also help bridge your income gap in the meantime.

With many side-gigs, you don’t have to apply and compete with others like you would in a traditional job. In other cases, you may have to compete with other workers, but you’ll still be able to generate some income based on your availability.

Different options exist depending on your situation. You can deliver food or offer rides if you have a car. But many other side gig options exist if you don’t have a car.

Without a car, you can:

  • Walk dogs

  • Prepare groceries with Instacart as an in-store shopper (no delivery needed)

  • Do odd jobs around people’s homes

Without the physical ability to do the above, you can:

  • Transcribe audio to text

  • Do virtual assistant work or online user tests (on sites like Clickworker and UserTesting)

  • Sign up for paid surveys

Many people will also purchase and resell items for a profit on marketplaces like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay.

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7. Attend networking events

Do some research about networking events near you and plan to attend them. If you live in a rural area where few events like this are available, search for similar events online.

Attending networking events, whether it’s online or in-person, gets you out of your day-to-day routine. It also helps you meet other people who may be able to provide you with opportunities you wouldn’t get on your own.

Consider looking for in-person hiring events as well. During these types of events, companies are actively looking for fresh talent. They’re willing to invest lots of resources to find the right candidates, which means they’re likely in high need of workers.

When you attend in-person hiring events, the hiring managers are there specifically to talk to you and look for their next employees.

Job fairs are also great events to find job opportunities. While many job fairs are organized by colleges and universities, a lot of them are open to the public. Even if you’re not enrolled in college, you can still attend most of these events.

When you don’t know what your future holds, it can feel difficult to stay motivated and keep searching for your dream job. Now that you have some tips to help you through job search fatigue, you can keep your head up and persevere through this hurdle. Make sure to join Jobcase so that you can chat with other job seekers — because you don’t have to be alone with this struggle.



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