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6 Creative Ways to Beat Job Search Burnout

Unemployed U.S. workers are experiencing a tremendous case of job search burnout, according to research from staffing firm Insight Global. More than half of those surveyed (55%) said they’re completely burned out from undergoing a long, drawn-out job hunt.

In addition, recently unemployed full-time workers say they have applied to around 30 jobs but only received an average of four responses. Given the volatile job market, budget cuts, layoffs and hiring freezes, it’s not surprising that job seekers are feeling overwhelmed.

The job search grind also takes a toll on a candidate’s confidence and optimism. Researchers for LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index asked more than 30,000 U.S. workers how confident they felt about their prospects of keeping or finding a job. On a scale from +100 (most confident) to -100 (least confident), the overall response in January 2023 was +36. In May, it dropped to +27.

If you find yourself stuck on the job hunt hamster wheel, don’t despair. There are creative and strategic ways to beat job search burnout so you can get back on track.

Start with a plan

Some people believe that a job search is a numbers game. For example, if you send out 300 resumes, you’ll have a better chance of success than if you send out 50. Unfortunately, the shotgun approach is rarely effective. And even if it is, you’re wasting valuable time and resources. Instead, start by writing down your ideal roles, including job titles and industries of interest.

Then, once you are clear on your goals, brainstorm a list of companies you’d like to work for. Before applying for positions, update your resume and other job search assets. That way, you will be best positioned to gain the attention of recruiters.

Leverage your network

Most job openings aren’t posted online. So, don’t wait until you are six months into your job search before you reach out to your network. Start early on. If you have a friend or former co-worker who works at a company you're interested in, ask them for a referral. Referrals are a great way to stand out in a crowded job market.

Set time limits

A primary reason for job search burnout is that people spend 40 hours a week sending resumes. Don't do that. It will wear you out. Instead, be strategic and set daily time limits. Plan your job-hunting activities around when you feel the most productive. Consider using a calendar app for time management and tools to organize your search and manage follow-up communications. By being efficient with your time and setting a sustainable pace, you'll be more likely to succeed.

Schedule time for self-care

Job hunting can be a grueling, emotionally taxing endeavor. On average, it will take about six months or more to land a decent job. In other words, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. This isn’t the time to save money by canceling your gym membership. Nourish your body by prioritizing rest, exercise and healthy eating. It can also help to create a positive mantra to get you through the rough spots.

Some examples include:

  • Action conquers fear
  • My dream job is just weeks away
  • I may be one conversation away from my ideal job
  • I am valuable regardless of my employment status

Consider alternatives

It’s understandable to want to hold out for the “ideal” job. But if your search has gone on too long, you might need to adjust course. Try not to get too attached to a single organization or opportunity. That way, if it doesn’t materialize, you won't be disappointed. Instead, open yourself up to other alternatives.

In the short term, consider freelancing or another temporary job. Some of the benefits include the ability to earn extra money while gaining valuable experience. It also helps fill a work gap and gives you something interesting to discuss in interviews. Other options are part-time positions or turning a hobby into a side hustle. You never know. That side gig might eventually turn into a thriving full-time business!

Find professional support

If you've gone several months with no progress, it's time to ask yourself what needs to change. Are you having trouble getting the initial interview? Or are you securing initial interviews and not progressing further? If burnout persists, it might be time to seek professional support from a reputable career coach.

The advantages of a career coach are that they can provide an unbiased perspective and constructive feedback. They can also pinpoint specific areas where you need improvement. While working with a coach is a commitment, the benefits of accountability, moral support and an accelerated job search process often outweigh the investment.

Finding the right opportunity takes time and patience. Instead of asking yourself, "Why me?" focus on things you can control, like your attitude and approach. Celebrate small wins and take it one day at a time. If things start to get discouraging, take a short break to recharge. Then, get back to work. Remember, it's just a matter of time. You're not looking for 100 jobs, just one that’s best for you.


This article was written by Caroline Castrillon from Forbes and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to

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