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Coping With Job Search Stress – Lessons From the Field

We asked our Ilkmade Experts questions ranging from how they confront stressful situations in the workplace to how they position themselves in a competitive job market. Get real, honest feedback about what it’s like in the International Relations and Policy field.

Asheley Van Ness, the Director of Criminal Justice at Arnold Ventures and Carnegie Mellon MSPPM alum, shares some tips on managing stress during the job search.  

Looking for a new job can be overwhelming and stressful. Anxiety from the job search process can limit our ability to make progress on even the most basic tasks. Below are a few timeless lessons learned to reduce stress while searching for your dream job.

Stay organized

Over the years I have found that staying organized has kept me from feeling overwhelmed by the job search process. Being organized allows me to feel productive and clearly see when I have made progress. When I am looking for a new job I create an excel file of all of the organizations I am interested in and I create step-by-step tasks for each organization. For example, I include where and when I have sent resumes and cover letters, who I spoke with, informational interview dates, emails and key facts on each organization. This process allows me to create structure and break down the job search into small tasks that feel manageable. 

Set goals (and take the time to celebrate success)

Setting goals has always been an important part of the job search process for me as it keeps me motivated. I tend to first set large goals. For example, I outline the type of job I would want, as it provides overall clarity on the type of organizations I plan to target in my job search. I also set smaller weekly and monthly goals. For example, my monthly goals would involve applying to at least three job openings and my weekly goals would include conducting at least two informational interviews. Having specific, achievable goals helps me stay focused and allows me to see progress. Just as it is important to set and achieve goals it is also important to celebrate success. The job search process is much more enjoyable and manageable when you acknowledge your progress and celebrate wins-no matter how small. Celebrating can be as simple as splurging on a favorite treat or going to the movies.

Our take:

Job searching can be exhausting, but it can also prove to be a valuable learning opportunity. Many young graduates have no idea of how wide and complex their field really is until they start searching for jobs. Suddenly, the number of organizations, the diversification of roles and the sub-specializations of each field become clear.

Although all of this research might seem like a waste of time if you receive no reply or only rejections, it can be valuable in the future because it allows you to have an eagle-eye view of the kind of organizations working in your field of interest, their priorities and activities. Presenting yourself and sharing your CV even when you do not get that particular job can also put you on the radar of potential employers. 

The most important thing to remember is that you are not wasting your time and draining your resources by sending out emails and CVs. All of this job search is part of a learning process and it can help you understand which skills you might need to develop further to be an appealing candidate. 

Even if you are unable to find your dream job just yet, widening your search to include opportunities from other sectors that can allow you to develop crucial skills (such as communication or research) and knowing you are still working towards your goal can make a huge difference in your future career. 

Is the job search stressing you out? Our Ilkmade Experts are here to help you find your calm. From deciding on which programs are aligned with your goals to essay review and interview prep, we’ve got you covered. Book a free 15-minute consultation here to see how we can support you through the application process.

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