Do You Smell Smoke?

Do you smell smoke? Is the smoke from your job search or a bag of microwave popcorn?

Burnout – it happens to all of us at some point in the job search.  Applying for jobs, networking, few solid leads, the rejection notices, and worst of all – never hearing back from companies to which you have applied – it is easy to see why one would feel burned out. Here are signs that you may be experiencing job search burnout:

  • Ceasing to apply for jobs because “I am not going to get it, so why apply?”
  • Avoiding looking for jobs  or reaching out to potential new networking contacts.
  • Taking more naps than applying for jobs.
  • Snapping at family or friends-don’t think you have been rude lately? Ask family and friends how you have been acting.
  • Finding fault with every job lead.

Remember, we all experience job search burnout, the key is to recognize it and act before it costs you a great opportunity.  The key is to focus on how to prevent burnout or recover when job search burnout does happen.


It is important to avoid becoming a couch potato when searching for a job.  Too often I see a young graduate with three days’ worth of stubble on his face who has been living on chips and pizza for the past month.  This is not the picture of health and energy that an employer wants to see in an applicant. Recruiters like positive, energetic candidates – exercising can help you be physically and mentally fresher than the competition.


Another danger of the job search is becoming a recluse and never leaving your house or apartment.  Sometimes, job seekers avoid people  because they don’t want to talk about the job search or may feel embarrassed about their situation. First off, most individuals have gone, or will go, through this stressful process in their lives.  Additionally, the people you are avoiding are your friends and family and they want to help. Don’t close the door to a helping hand as there is nothing to be embarrassed about.

Get out there and meet people. Consider giving 5-10 hours of your time each week to  volunteering. This tactic can benefit your search  by scheduling your week with more structured time, allowing you to interact with more people, and providing you with an answer to the dreaded interview question “What have you been doing since graduation/last job?”


Keep a diary of your job search: what search strategies have you tried, what has worked, what has backfired, interview questions, ideas, etc.  This effort will allow you to look back and find trends and strategies that were successful in your efforts.  Then, do more of what is working for you and less of what is not!

Goal Setting

Your goal is to get a job, right?  Anything less is failure?  Thinking like this will lead you to burnout because at the end of every day you will feel deflated.  Remember, marathon runners do not run 26.2 miles their very first run, they build to their ultimate goal through smaller goals.

Set smaller, weekly goals that you can review each Friday.  This process can show you that you are making headway in the job search process.  Also, weekly goal setting can keep you accountable to actually doing some of the things you said you were going to do!

Buddy Up

Most weight loss experts will agree that individuals who are part of a support group or have a friend who is trying to lose weight, are more focused and thus more likely to reach their goals.  This same philosophy can be applied to finding a job.

Enlist the help of a friend or join a job club.  These outlets can help you stay accountable to the goals you set and help you get out of the job search doldrums or burnout.

The sooner you can act when you smell smoke, the better off you will be.  Job search burnout happens to most of us at some point, recognize the signs and commit to doing something about it before it paralyzes your search.


About Kevin Monahan

I have 10+ years experience in coaching clients in their career management and career change efforts. Personal career consulting services combined with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituents.
This entry was posted in Career Management, Job Search and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Do You Smell Smoke?

  1. Pingback: Getting Back Up | Career Seeker's Guide

  2. Pingback: Writer’s Block | Career Seeker's Guide

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s