Fending Off Panic During A Long Job Search

Overcoming the urge to freak in a drawn-out work hunt takes extra measures.

Fending Off Panic During A Long Job Search

Tackle job-search stress anxiety head-on.


Job-search stress anxiety is a very real thing. A job search that grinds on longer than expected (maybe much longer) can cause justified jitters. Hardest hit are the ego and bank account. As each one drains, it’s no wonder people get spooked. 

Fears of skills going stale and losing credibility mount. Keeping references upbeat gets harder. Desperation’s scent may seep from frantic pores. 

Staving off panic can avert glomming onto unsuitable work or drowning in despair. Tackle the typical anxieties of extended unemployment.

Fear of financial fiasco

Number one concern among long-term job seekers? Running out of money. The prospect’s downright nightmarish. Losing one’s possessions bit by painful bit. Cutting back on lifestyle until it’s pure survival.
There are ways to forestall the worst and stave off job-search stress anxiety. Try looking at part-time or casual work. Don’t rule out temp assignments, job-sharing, leave replacements and other short-term contracts, the gig economy and project-based roles.

If strapped, try strategic humility. Reach out for job search supports when money’s a problem: social assistance and tax relief from the government. Free services via community agencies. Brief loans from friends or family to cover gaps.

Dread of explaining why it’s taking so long 

Interviews can be hell when a job hunt drags on. The longer you’re involuntarily out of work, the more question marks pop up. Have you been slacking? Are you even serious about finding a job? Why do other employers keep rejecting you?

Better have a good answer when asked: “Why are you still unemployed?” Be credible and highlight positives. For instance, it’s usually fine to state you took a few months to get focused on the right job, industry and location; or you took training, travelled, took care of a fragile family member. 

Alarm over being seen as stale

Searching for work can be a full-time plod. Saps time and energy for keeping vocational skills sharp. Employees could wonder if you’ve gone to pot (these days literally).

Reassure them by showing how you’ve kept current. Do self-initiated projects that draw on critical talents — doing volunteer assignments that mirror your job. Attending trade shows (volunteer there and get reduced rates), staying active in a professional/industry association. 

Terror of references turning on you 

Back near the start of your hunt, you were revving up your references. Prepping them to sing your praises when calls came pouring in. Since then they’ve heard crickets.

Now they may be twitchy about recommending you. So be sure to keep them in the loop as time passes. Send updates about interviews you’ve been on and how you’ve come close. Give them reasons to stay enthusiastic.

Angst about clarifying why they let you go

Without a viable reason for being on the street so long, it makes the employer that sent you packing seem clairvoyant. It sure doesn’t help you to explain why they ditched you.

Stick to the story that gets you off the hook best: It was a group downsizing, the company went belly up, your department relocated to a distant planet. Short and sweet, like a sugar cube.

Don't let job-search stress anxiety get the better of you. Know that you're not alone and your efforts will be paid off. It just takes diligence. Monster can help you out. Sign up to be a member today, and you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox.