Overcoming Burnout: Strategies for Persevering Through the Job Search Struggle

Kayla Hayden

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

What is the point of filling out another application? I’m just going to get rejected. Again.

I haven’t applied to anything today. I should be doing more!

Why can’t I focus on reading these job descriptions? Why is my mind on literally everything else? Looking for a job IS my job!!

If you’ve had similar thoughts, you’re likely getting, or are, burnt out. The good news about burnout – you’re not alone. According to research performed by Zippia, 89% of workers have been burnt out within the last year. Whether you’re currently employed and looking for that next position, or unemployed and trying to change that, we can all agree job searching is not easy. Throw a few rejections or ghostings into the mix, and it’s easy to get cynical when our plans don’t go the way we were hoping. Let’s look a little deeper into the signs of burnout and how to recognize it in ourselves, preventing and managing burnout, and how we can move forward when burnout strikes.

Signs of Burnout

The famous rap phrase “check yourself before you wreck yourself” is never more real when it comes to identifying burnout in yourself. Do a mental inventory. Have you been feeling all or most of these things for several weeks?

  • Exhausted
  • Cynical
  • Ineffective
  • Depressed
  • Dissatisfied
  • Irritable
  • Forgetful
  • Unfocused
  • Anxious
  • Physically ill (namely stomach aches, headaches, and/or insomnia, but these can turn into more serious symptoms, including high blood pressure)

If you’re only feeling a couple of these things, you may be in the early stages of burnout. If you’re feeling all or most of these things, you’re likely in the swing of it. 

Preventing and Managing Burnout

Looking for a job can be overwhelming and exhausting. But, there are some strategies that can help you prevent and manage burnout during this challenging time. 

First and foremost, prioritize self-care like it’s your full-time job. Set reasonable goals of how many jobs you’ll apply to in one day (hint: it should be a single digit number). Take breaks, engage in activities that bring you joy, and don’t forget to recharge your batteries. Whether it’s going for a walk, practicing a hobby, or simply indulging in some guilt-free Netflix binging – make sure to carve out time for yourself.

Next up, set boundaries and give yourself permission to say “no.” Remember, you’re in control of your job search journey, and it’s okay to turn down opportunities that aren’t the right fit or to take a breather when you need it. 

Don’t be shy about seeking support. Reach out to friends, family, or even career counselors who can offer guidance, encouragement, and a fresh perspective. They can help alleviate some of the stress and provide valuable insights.

Last, maintain a healthy work-life balance, even if you don’t have a job yet. It’s easy to get consumed by the search, but make time for activities outside of job hunting that bring you happiness. And you never know when any social activity may turn into a networking opportunity! Hang in there, take care of yourself, and keep pushing forward. 

Help, I’m Burnt Out and I Feel Stuck!

When burnout strikes hard and it feels like doing anything is a monumental task, it can be tough to find the motivation to move forward. But remember, you’re not alone, and there are steps you can take to navigate this challenging situation. 

  • Give yourself permission to take a break and hit the pause button. Sometimes, the best way to move forward is to step back and recharge. Take some time off, engage in activities that bring you comfort and relaxation, and allow yourself to heal.
  • Start small. Break down overwhelming tasks into smaller, manageable steps. Celebrate even the tiniest progress you make—it’s all about building momentum. 
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for support. Reach out to trusted friends, family, or professionals who can lend a listening ear or offer guidance. Just like you wouldn’t want loved ones to go through hard times alone, your loved ones also want to help you!
  • Lastly, be gentle with yourself and practice self-compassion. Treat yourself with kindness and patience as you gradually regain your energy and motivation.

Understand that burnout is not a personal failure, but a sign that you’ve been pushing yourself too hard. You’ve overcome challenges before, and you have the strength to do it again. Take it one step at a time, and remember that progress, no matter how small, is still progress. This season of your life will not last forever, regardless of how things may feel right now. Job searching isn’t easy, but when you’re signing an offer letter, all the hard work becomes worth it.

Kayla Hayden is a Transition Specialist at Hire Heroes USA.  If you would like more information or need assistance getting in contact with your Transition Specialist, log into your MyTrak or register at www.hirehireosusa.org to be assigned a Transition Specialist.