It’s that time of the year: either you just graduated from school, frantically applying for internships, or just plain ready to amp up your resume with some solid summer experiences. But, putting yourself out there can be an intimidating process, especially if you struggle with anxiety. You’ll be swarmed with multiple concerns. Am I good enough? What will I say during the interview? And the most difficult question of all: Do I let them know right off the bat about my history with anxiety? Whether you’re applying for your first job or trying something new with years of experience under your belt, the what-if’s never quite go away. Psych2Go shares with you 6 tips for job hunting when you have anxiety:
1. Apply for jobs that match your skill set.
Think about what makes you anxious and find jobs that focus on your strengths and skills. If working in fast-paced places that involves a lot of multi-tasking and unpredictability, such as the food and beverage industry or customer service, you may want to refrain from applying. But if you’re tech-savvy, detail-oriented, and enjoy solitude, writing jobs or managing social media pages are definitely positions worth looking into.
It’s important to note, however, that we may not always get the job we initially want, especially when we’re just starting out. My first job was cocktail waitressing and never in my life did I think I would have to memorize so many names of alcoholic beverages. But, it all paid off! Although my anxiety initially suffered many consequences from the job requirements, over time, I actually learned how to work under pressure—and balance martini glasses! As you apply for jobs, think about the fears and difficulties you want to work through. You might just pick up extra skills that come in handy.
2. Spend more time with people who make you feel good about yourself.
Boost that level of self-confidence! When you struggle with anxiety, it’s easy to feel bad about yourself. Spending time with loved ones can help you forget about your negative thoughts for a while. Head out with your friends and shop for interview outfits together or go on relaxing drives after you’ve put some good work into your resume and applications. Applying for jobs is a full-time job in itself. So, be sure to make time in between to have fun and unwind. When you incorporate great memories with others on your job-hunting journey, it makes it so much more approachable. On top of that, you’ll feel less alone and can turn to others about your struggles and frustrations. This can have such a positive impact on your self-esteem.
3. Apply widely.
Put your Nikes on and don’t think—just do. Sometimes, we can be so dead set on our dream job because of our ideals. As a result, we may have a tendency to put all our eggs in one basket and hold tightly onto our hopes. But, the world doesn’t always work its magic. Haruki Murakami writes, “Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.” Often, we end up somewhere unexpectedly different, but it all works out anyway. Even if the other jobs seem mediocre or come nowhere close to the position you want, apply widely anyway. The more places you apply to, the more likely you are to get hired.
It’s always a numbers game. Applying widely also gives you a broader perspective to work with. If you have many options to pick from, sometimes having that safety net can alleviate your anxiety. That way, even if the job you land isn’t what you’re looking for, you can still look elsewhere and have something to sustain you in the meantime.
4. Practice doing interviews.
It’s probably the last thing you want to do when you’ve already got enough on your plate. But if interviews make you anxious, you’ll feel better preparing questions and an introduction that’ll make you stand out from other applicants. There’s no shame in practicing with your friends, family, dog, or lover. If you recently graduated from college, make use of your career center on campus. They usually have free mock interview sessions and prep classes that can provide helpful tips and resources.
5. Plan ahead of time and pack hygiene supplies.
Anxiety can make us uncomfortable—emotionally and physically. If you’re worried about sweating, pack a rescue kit in your bag or briefcase with deodorant, a clean shirt, and oil blotting sheets. Anxiety may also produce stomach aches, so packing some Pepto is helpful, too. Before the day of your interview, visit the location ahead of time. This will help you figure out how long it takes you to get there and where the nearest facilities are. Familiarity helps reduce anxiety, which is often triggered from uncertainty. The more you know your environment, the better you’ll feel.
6. If it makes you feel better, be honest and upfront about your anxiety.
During your interview, if it makes you less anxious to talk about your anxiety, you can say something like, “I know I seem nervous and interviews might not always be a strength of mine, but it never took away from the things I’ve achieved in the past, nor has it affected my strong work ethic.” Believe it or not, but people actually don’t always look for that great flawless first impression. Ultimately, interviewers want to see if the two of you can connect and work well together. When you can tear those walls down and provide a window for authenticity, they will appreciate that more than a cookie-cutter speech.
What do you think?
What do you do to reduce your anxiety when you’re looking for jobs? Psych2Go would love to hear your thoughts! Please be sure to leave a comment down below!
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Markway, B. (2013, April 10). Job Hunting Tips for People with Anxiety. Psychology Today. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
Murakami, H. (2005). Kafka on the Shore. New York, NY: Vintage Books.
Virzi, J. (2017, September 8). 10 Tips for Job Hunting When You Have Social Anxiety. The Mighty. Retrieved May 29, 2018.