Whether you’re currently out of work, or just looking for your next challenge, job hunting can be stressful and exhausting—both mentally and physically. Writing applications, preparing for interviews and the possible rejection that goes along with them, can all take their toll on your energy, confidence and motivation. All feeling a bit too much? Here’s how you can look after your mental health and make sure you don’t burn yourself out.
First—and we can’t say this enough—the quality of job applications is more important than the quantity. Writing a properly researched application, that’s tailored to the person specification for a job you really want, is a lot more worthwhile than sending duplicate letters out to lots of different charities. Recruiters can tell if you just need a job, rather than really wanting their job, but if you have a genuine passion for a particular charity or role, that will shine through.
Don’t waste your precious energy applying for jobs you don’t really want or that won’t work for you in the long term. If you don’t currently have a job then you may need to be more flexible, but you don’t want to be applying again in a few months’ time because you’re unhappy in your new job.
It’s easy to feel like you should be searching for a job constantly until you find one, but, as with working, you’re more likely to see better results if you’re well-rested and rejuvenated. So have a job search strategy that includes allowing yourself some time off. This can be especially important if you still have a job, so you have some down-time to relax and enjoy your hobbies or socialise.
You might choose to only search for jobs on three evenings a week, or, if you’re not currently working, from 10am to 4pm each day. This may mean tightly scheduling your time and streamlining your process so you can maximise your efforts. Why not set up some job alerts so relevant roles arrive straight in your inbox?
Job hunting can be lonely, so when you need some help, make sure you ask for it. Whether that’s asking a friend or family member to read over your CV or cover letter, or just having a chat to vent your frustrations if you haven’t heard back from a recruiter for a while.
You could also consider finding a mentor. Mentors can be really useful to help you set goals, fill skill gaps and think about your strengths and experience in different ways. Depending on your specialism, you can find a mentor through organisations like Small Charities Coalition or CharityComms. Or why not put a call out on CharityConnect for a mentor in the area you want to focus on?
This is a particularly important time to be kind to yourself. It can be easy to take rejection personally and view yourself as not good enough, when in reality there may just have been a candidate with slightly more experience than you. So be your own best friend and don’t let any negative self-talk creep in.
Take the time to make sure you eat right, exercise and get enough sleep. If you’re feeling anxious about interviews or generally about what the future may hold, then try to manage that anxiety through practices such as mindfulness, and seek help if you need it. Set yourself smaller, achievable goals that are in your control, such as researching a particular charity or rewriting your CV, and don’t forget to celebrate your successes, however small.
Feel the search is getting you down? Perhaps you’ve been rejected a few times, or are just feeling fatigued from doing several interviews in the same week? Take a break from the job hunt. It’s perfectly fine to do this. Don’t worry about missing opportunities—most charity jobs are advertised for at least a fortnight so you shouldn’t miss out by having a break for a week or so, or longer if you need it. Rest, recharge and focus on yourself until you feel you have renewed energy to carry on again.
The right job is out there for you, so don’t give up! Believing in yourself shows resilience and tenacity—skills that employers love. It may take a bit of time, but stick with it—all the effort will be worth it in the end, we promise!