Career expert: Managing stress in the job search process

Contributing columnistApril 6, 2014 

It's been an exciting year for March Madness!

You have witnessed upsets that basketball pundits did not predict in the NCAA's Men Basketball field of 64 teams. There are so many emotions during games and you saw close games that kept you at the edge of your seat. One minute your team is up and winning, and then you watched an unbelievable upset with a last minute shot at the buzzer.

Many job seekers and career changers are experiencing these up and down emotions in America's workplace and it is often referred to as stress.

Overwhelmed by workplace stress? You're not alone according to Tower Watson a global professional services company that conducted a Benefits Attitude Survey.

In 2013 the survey reflected 78 percent of the employers ranking stress as tops in workforce risk to productivity levels. Although supervisors and their employees continue to dispute about the cause of stress, today I would like to address one of the factors and offer some suggestions. Stress in the workplace or conducting your job search is counterproductive. Actually, stress is pressure that is not necessary in your life.

"Our thoughts influence our actions, being optimist and realistic given the current economy is important," says Delila Owens, associate professor of counseling at the University of Akron.

One key factor of stress is rumination and it is present during the job search process as well. Research by Derek Roger, author of Managing Stress: The Challenge of Change and one of the world's leading researchers on stress and resilience, says "rumination is the mental process of thinking over and over about something, which happened either in the past or could happen in the future, and attaching negative emotion to it."

Owens said, "The mystery of it all is perhaps one of the greatest stressors among job search applicants. The what ifs and the unknown of employment."

I like to follow the prospective of a non-ruminator and stay positive. According to Nick Petrie, senior faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs, "Non-ruminator may have plenty of pressure in their lives, but they aren't stressed by it."

To assist you on getting to the road of a non-ruminator, here's a list of suggestions:

â–  Stop hitting the replay button. Educate yourself on the phases of the job search process and cycle from start to finish. Once you have received your rejection letter move on. Also, follow up with employers that have not responded to your employment inquires, if they don't respond move on.

â–  Focus on your skills and what you can offer. Owens suggests, "Critically think about how your skills and expertise would fit into the position in which you submit your materials." It is important to have a clear inventory of what you have to offer an employer.

â–  Invest energy to analyze the position prior to applying. Be honest with yourself when you review the job description. Do your skills, qualifications, education, and experience match the employer requirements? Are you over or under qualified?

â–  Secure an anchor. Look for "something" to help reduce your self-doubt and reinforces that there are not issues, but rather timing and fit. How I personally stay grounded and focused is my faith as well as creating and striving to maintain my life mission.

â–  Learn from your mistake. We spend an enormous about of time in the workplace and owe it to ourselves to take time with our career decisions and goals. Wherever you are today, you need to be preparing yourself. When your preparation meets that right opportunity you'll be ready.

â–  Lastly, keep in mind that you have talent and a lot to offer an employer. By maintaining a healthier outlook will enhance your candidacy and get you closer to a job offer. Moreover, you are less likely make a mistake as a non-ruminator because you have your past in prospective and have overcome your fears.


Lenroy Jones is associate director at the University of Kentucky's James W. Stuckert Career Center. He has a master's degree in college and university administration from Michigan State University. Join him on LinkedIn, "like" him at or follow him as @CareerDudeTweet on Twitter.

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