Biggest threats to your job-search stamina

When you’re looking for a job, remember the process is a marathon—not a sprint. Here’s how to finish the race a winner.

Biggest threats to your job-search stamina

Don't underestimate the challenge before you.

From poorly written job descriptions to complicated application processes to companies that don’t even get back to you to let you know they received your resume, there are a lot of potential obstacles ’you’ll need to overcome to find a job. If you thought this was going to be some kind of walk in the park, you’re not alone.

“A lot of people underestimate how challenging job searching is and how much emotional energy and time it takes,” says Elaine Varelas, managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career-management firm in Boston.

Job hunting requires stamina—a lot of it—because it’s easy to lose steam and gain stress along the way.

“Job search fatigue is common, particularly in industries where there are limited job opportunities,” says Lynn Carroll, a Philadelphia-based career coach. “It can feel extremely frustrating.”

If you’re at the top of your game, you may be able to find a job in eight weeks, says Monster’s career expert Vicki Salemi. But realistically speaking, it could take a lot longer to get a job offer.

But you can do it. Remember: A job search is a marathon—not a sprint. To stay motivated, dodge these stamina killers and keep forging ahead.

Stamina-killer No. 1: Ignoring emotions
Getting laid off or fired from a job can torpedo your mood, which can suck the joy from any activity. It’s not exactly the optimal time to take on anything that requires passion and focus.

“A lot of people dive into their job search the day after they were laid off, and they’re in the wrong mindset,” Carroll laments. “You have to do some processing first.”

Even when you leave a job voluntarily, “there’s often still a grieving process,” Carroll says. “I left a job I loved because it wouldn’t let me balance my family with my work, so I quit, but it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made.”

To get back on track, Columbus, Ohio–based career coach Sarah Johnston recommends leaning on others for support. “Talking to friends or family can reignite your energy,” she says.

Stamina-killer No. 2: Not exercising
Job-search fatigue can also take a toll on your body, says Varelas. Don’t just sit at your computer all day applying to jobs. Exercise to get endorphins flowing. 20 to 30 minutes of light cardio can lift your mood and help reduce the stress that comes with looking for a job.

Stamina-killer No. 3: Applying for every job
If your game plan is to apply to as many job ads as possible, you’re doing it wrong. “Putting all of your energy into just the sheer volume of applications you submit can really wear you down fast,” says Carroll. “It can also decrease the number of callbacks you get because you’re not taking the time to tailor your resume to the job description.” When that happens, momentum wanes quickly.

Rather than applying to every single position you see, you need to focus your search on what specific aspects of a job will make you happy. Make a list and compare that to what you read in job ads. Only apply to ones that look to be a good fit. Another option, Carroll suggests, is zeroing in on five to 10 companies that you want to work for and apply to applicable job openings at these employers.

“The more you invest in each of your job applications,” says Varelas, “the higher your chances will be of achieving positive results.”

Stamina-killer No. 4: Setting unrealistic goals
The quickest way to lose your drive is to overwhelm yourself with impossible goals. Right there, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Varelas advises setting measurable goals that you can accomplish. For instance, “This week I’m going to have two networking meetings,” or, “Today, I’m going to send thank-you notes to everyone I met with last week.” Completing these small achievements can help you stay engaged.

Stamina-killer No. 5: Pursuing work you don’t love
If you no longer enjoy what you do for a living, you’re going to have a hard time maintaining your enthusiasm during a job search, Varelas warns.

The good news? It’s never too late to make a career change. “You have to identify what you’re really interested in and pursue what you’re passionate about,” she says.

Not sure what you want to do? Don’t rush into things. You’re better off getting a taste of the work that interests you by volunteering in the industry before making a career switch. Learning what doesn’t fit the bill is as important as discovering what does.

Start off strong
There’s no doubt job-hunting can be stressful, but there are ways you can keep your fuel tank full. Need some help with that? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox so you can apply as soon as something catches your eye. Those are just two quick and easy ways Monster can take some of the pressure off your shoulders so you can reserve your energy for the task at hand.