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COVID-19 has created a desperate hunt for jobs across the UK, as many people face redundancies and industries such as travel and hospitality continue to struggle.
Research suggests businesses are receiving thousands of applications for jobs which would only have attracted a handful of applicants before the coronavirus pandemic.
A report from CV-Library reveals that job applications rose by 32% in June, as candidates continued to look for new work opportunities. Alongside this, there were 106% more applicants battling it out for every job than there was a year ago.
Job hunting isn’t easy at the best of times, and there’s no doubt it is more challenging at the moment — although not impossible. However, it is a stressful process that can easily consume your life and affect your mental wellbeing.
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The uncertainty over job prospects can be extremely stressful and lead to feelings of anxiety about your own career and personal finances.
“Work is the environment in which we spend most of our lives, it is central to our identity and self-esteem,” says Dr Paul McLaren, a consultant psychiatrist at the Priory’s Wellbeing Centres across London and medical director of the Priory’s Hospital in Hayes Groves.
“Redundancy can be a major challenge at any age and leads to increased rates of emotional distress and mental illness, making it more difficult, in turn, to be positive when looking for a new position.”
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So how can you prevent burnout from setting in if you’re looking for a new job?
It’s always helpful to have boundaries between your work and personal life — and the same goes for job hunting. Although it’s tempting to work on applications day and night, it’s only going to lead to exhaustion and mistakes — which makes landing a job more unlikely. It’s important to have a cut off point for applications and give yourself something to look forward to in the evenings.
Although securing a full-time job may be your goal, setting yourself smaller aims can help you feel motivated. This might mean researching or applying for two jobs a day, making four phone calls every day, or attending an online networking event.
Actively manage your stress levels
It’s tempting to bottle up the stress and anxiety of job hunting, particularly if you know other people are in the same boat. But sharing your worries and getting support from others can help put things into perspective and bring some relief.
“Talking to other people in the same position and sharing your feelings can really help reduce stress and anxiety,” says McLaren. “Don’t isolate yourself: you need support of good friends and family to keep motivated. A friend may be very helpful in pointing you to a new job opportunity.”
It’s not possible to suddenly stop worrying about finding a job or redundancy, but actively managing your stress levels can help you cope with the pressure.
“Taking the opportunity to understand your stress response, know what it feels like and how it affects you and then make an effort to learn new skills to help manage those feelings. This is time that is very well spent,” McLaren says.
“There are many different approaches to stress management, such as exercise, active relaxation and self-reflection. Some may find that mindfulness techniques work for them, whereas others may find other techniques more helpful for reducing stress. What is most important is whether it works for you and then practising it frequently.”
Turn your focus to your CV
Developing your CV and learning something new, even if the skills are not directly related to your chosen career, is important. “It can contribute to your future job success and will provide much needed distraction,” says Dr Andrew Iles, a consultant psychiatrist at the Priory’s Wellbeing Centre in Oxford.
“There are many online courses available, often free to access, to help you boost your skill set, and ask your friends to recommend you on networks like LinkedIn.”
Focusing on other projects can give you some much-needed space from the stress of sifting through job adverts and sending applications. Temporary work can help keep you afloat while you apply for more long-term positions, but volunteering is also a good option that can help you build transferable skills while you keep looking for work.
“Your work does not define you as a person. You are not your job,” Iles adds. “Also, be kind to yourself and realistic about the timeframe for gaining new employment, and understand that you are more than this situation.”