6 Emotional Stages of Job Hunting + How to Get Through Them

job-hunting Aug 24, 2020

Job hunting in and of itself is a full-time job. It's this roller coaster of up and downs that can have your emotions all over the place. It takes an immeasurable amount of commitment and brain power. In no way, shape, or form is it an easy task for even the most experienced and qualified individual. This huge undertaking can often creates stress, anxiety, and overwhelm over a period of time. If you've decided to enter the job market, here's how you can expect to feel throughout the process along with tips to help you keep going.

The average length of a job search is 5 months, with 82% of participants describing their search as a stressful experience. - Randstad

Stage 1: Motivation


The beginning stage of every job hunt starts with the motivation and determination to #GetHired. The euphoria of getting out there and finding something new and better has your wheels turning as you begin to come across exciting opportunities. You're sticking to your "apply for 10 jobs a day rule", you're saving jobs that you want to come back to later, and your mind is constantly on go thinking about the different ways to market your skill-set. Your energy, confidence, and optimism is pretty high and that's a good thing!

Stay away from creating false, unrealistic expectations. Job interview processes are often long and drawn out, so stay away from creating false, unrealistic expectations around landing a new offer. Keep up the momentum and a positive attitude. You're going to need it!

Stage 2: Overwhelm


Now that you've gotten your momentum and confidence, there's the process of searching job boards, sending emails to your network, and applying to all of the jobs you're interested in and qualified for.

  • You spend 12 hours searching for jobs.

  • 10 hours questioning if you're qualified for any of them.

  • 8 hours crafting your resume.

  • 6 hours describing your value add in 1 page or less.

You're up for hours on end with this intense process which creates stress, fatigue, and overwhelm.

Create structure and boundaries around your job search and do your best to stick to it, so you feel more in control of your search. Use a project management tool like Asana, Trello, or even Microsoft Excel to help you get organized. Try not to become obsessed with crafting the perfect resume, cover letter, and job application for every job.

Stage 3: Discouraged


Generating job leads can be the most stressful stage of the job search. You put in all of these hours only for a recruiter to spend a total of 8 seconds reviewing your resume and cover letter. Then, the rejections start rolling in. Radio silence from employers can feel even worse. You start feeling like giving up because although you're doing everything you can, nothing is working. You start not believing in yourself and your talents. Asking questions like, "Why are people not getting back to me? Did a recruiter even look at my resume?"; the job hunting blues.


Keep these few things in mind:

  • You can be the best qualified candidate and still not be selected.

  • If you didn't get the job, it was never your job to have.

  • When one door closes, another door will open.

  • Your talents and value add does not decrease based on someone else.

  • The position with your name on it, is still out there waiting for you.


"Rejection doesn't mean you're not good enough. It just means the other person failed to realize what you have to offer."- Mark Amend

Take a break, give yourself a pep talk, and revisit your job search strategy. Keep applying, keep networking, keep going.

Stage 4: Hopeful

FINALLY, someone responds to your application, gives you a call back, and schedules you to join the interview process. You are elated! Discouragement has turned into hope now that you can see a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. Your stress is starting to decrease, your frustration with the job search has been alleviated and you're thinking to yourself, "This is it! I'm going to land this job and my job search will officially be over." Here's a little piece of advice:

Don't fall into the job lead trap. An interview isn't a signed job offer. An interview isn't your first day of work. Bask in your excitement, while not allowing it to remove you from reality. Remain both hopeful and smart.

Stage 5: Anxious


You are killing these interviews and at every phase of the interview process, you're anxiety is on high. You're constantly thinking about whether or not you impressed the interviewer, what you could've said differently, and if you're moving on to the next round. You jump every time your phone rings or notifies you of a new email thinking, is this an update? And, your stuck between waiting to hear back from one company while interviewing for another, and also debating on whether or not you should continue your job search. NERVE-WRACKING to say the least. This stage is the long waiting game that keeps you on edge. Many interviewers don't follow-up when they say they will and there will be long delays in responses to your follow-ups.

Uncertainty breeds anxiety. Ask about next steps and timelines from every interviewer to help keep you as informed as possible. Ensure you take note of their contact information so you can follow-up, in the event they missed their "update deadline." After 2 follow-ups, let it be and move on. You did your best. Be satisfied with knowing that.

Stage 6: Relief

Weeks go by and there it is. A call extending you a job offer. Receiving a job offer is one of the greatest feelings in the world. You feel accomplished, successful, and relieved from all of the ups and downs. The roller-coaster has come to a stop and you can release the seat belt. But, before you get out, take a deep breath and release all of the frustration, stress, anxiety, and thoughts of not being enough.

Take a minute to acknowledge this moment. You've worked hard and put it a lot of time for it. Review the offer carefully, ask questions if you need clarity, and don't be afraid to negotiate your salary, benefits, and perks. You've earned that right!

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