How to Keep Your Confidence Up and Manage Stress While Job Hunting

Improve confidence and reduce stress on the job hunt

Stress is a natural response from our or fight-or-flight system—integral for our survival. When we encounter an imminent threat, our body releases hormones that target specific parts of our body to increase our chances of running away from the danger or fight it.

We’re not regularly faced with hungry tigers or any other life-or-death situations in the modern world, but our bodies still adapt and respond the same to the stressors in our everyday environments such as relationships, money, and work.

When you don’t hear back from job applications, rejection letters are piling up in your inbox, and nothing came out of the interview you thought went well, you are in no doubt experiencing stress—and it can take a toll on your confidence.

Unfortunately, this can become a vicious cycle. Poor stress management and the lack of confidence can interfere with your job hunting motivation.

We’ve provided a guide to help you keep your confidence up and manage your stress so that you can rock those interviews and land a great gig.

1. Practice good sleep hygiene

A good night’s sleep is not a luxury. It’s an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, along with proper nutrition and regular exercise.

While we all know that we feel 100% better after a good night’s sleep, many don’t understand how to maintain a proper sleep routine. Sleep hygiene is a behavioral and environmental practice intended to promote deep sleep each and every night.

The recommended hours of sleep depends on the individual, but a good benchmark is between 7-9 hours of sleep each night for a healthy adult.

What can negatively affect sleep hygiene?

  • Stress — It’s difficult to sleep if your mind is fixated on problems and the lack of sleep results in problems — it’s a vicious cycle. Stress management (exercise, meditation, proper nutrition) can improve sleep quality.

  • Caffeine — Avoid caffeine after 2 pm. Caffeine can stay in your system long after you feel that immediate burst of energy, keeping you awake at night.

  • Alcohol — “Passing out” is not conducive to sleep hygiene as it does not promote the recovery you need to reap the benefits of a good night’s rest.

  • Blue screens — Stay away from screens late into the evening. The blue light emitted from screens can interfere with your ability to fall asleep as our bodies are naturally wired to respond to light.

2. Exercise

Exercise can improve your self-confidence and reduce stress in a number of ways.

When you exercise, you release feel-good hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins responsible for the euphoric feeling, easing tension and stress.

Too busy to work exercise into your routine?

Good news for you, virtually any form of exercise, even low-impact exercise such as walking provides some benefits in producing endorphins. Instead of sitting down for coffee to catch up with a friend, suggest walking instead.

In terms of building confidence, exercise is a practice of setting short and long term personal goals and crushing them. It can be as simple as biking to the grocery store instead of driving or making a commitment to go to a fitness class 3 times a week. Exercising will make you feel stronger and think sharper, enabling a more positive attitude.

3. Reach out to friends, family, and colleagues

One of the most therapeutic things you can do when you’re having a rough go at the job hunt is to talk it out.

We can so often get stuck in a fabricated story we tell ourselves about the situation we’re in, that it can get in the way of action.

Getting advice from trusted peers can lend a perspective to your situation, and help you tackle your problem in a new way. These people know who you are and what you’re capable of. Not getting the job you’ve been dreaming of does not diminish your self-worth. It might simply mean you have a lot more to learn.   

4. Write stuff down

Collect a record of your recent achievements and contributions in your professional and personal life. I find it helpful to do this with a friend who is outspoken and honest with you—often times, we can overlook our own accomplishments and skills.

The great thing about this exercise is that you can transfer some of these notes to your resume and LinkedIn page. It’s a great practice for self-reflection that can help you talk more openly with interviewers with the concrete examples they’re looking for.

I’m sure you’re familiar with goal-setting. Writing down aspirations and things you’d like to accomplish in the near future as a developmental action plan, but have you ever tried fear-setting?

Fear setting prompts us to fully envision and record our fears in details. Understanding what gives us anxiety can help us overcome them when it’s time to make important decisions.  

5. Create a job application strategy

A common trap many people fall into when job hunting is to apply for everything that comes up in their online job search—we see these types of applications all the time, and they rarely result in an interview.

The one-size fits all resume and cover letter is not a successful tool for landing a great job. Cater your resume and cover letter to appeal to the people making the hiring decisions.

This includes:

  • Addressing your email and cover letter to someone—To whom this may concern does not concern anyone.

  • Thoroughly reading the position description to understand what the job entails.

  • Customising your resume to highlight jobs, skills, and projects you’ve been part of that are relevant to the work you’re applying for.

  • Researching the company values and determine if your values align.

Instead of playing the numbers game by applying to as many open positions you come across, be intentional about your applications. It will produce better results.

6. Reach out to recruiters

Register with a recruitment agency—We’re the experts when it comes to matching people with roles they love.

When we meet new candidates we always ask, 'would you consider temping?'

Temping gets your foot in the door. Temp to perm opportunities are far more common than you think. We love when a client tells us they didn’t realise the team needed someone like you in their office, making the work environment that much more productive/fun/engaging to be a part of.

If the temp role doesn't lead to a permanent position, temping is excellent for keeping your experience, energy, and resume fresh.  

Look into an agency niche in your industry. We have the market knowledge to help guide you through the process and get you noticed by companies you’re looking to work with. Great recruiters sometimes offer extra coaching when it comes to interviewing prep and career consulting.

6. Dress sharp

There is something to say for the age-old advice “dress for success” when it comes to building your confidence and even advancing your career.

How you feel in your clothes changes the way you carry yourself.

Dressing well can affect the way you come across to others because whether you realise it or not, your clothing is making a statement to the people around you, affecting how they perceive you.

Tips on how to dress sharper:

  • Wear the appropriate attire for the company you’re applying to. Do your research to find out the office dress code and match it accordingly.

  • Opt for high-quality materials such as cashmere, wool, hemp, or 100% organic cotton. These materials often come at a higher price point, but you will get so much more wear out of these clothes.

  • Make sure your clothes fit well. Having key pieces tailored for fit will make all the difference in your wardrobe.

7. Don’t give up

Resilience is the ability to adapt to problems and setbacks—it’s key to maintaining our wellbeing during difficult times.

Recruiters and hiring managers are often looking for candidates that demonstrate resiliency for their ability to strategise, cope with stress, and keep others around them inspired.

Things to help build resiliency:

  • Know your limits when it comes to burn-out, and avoid overworking yourself when you reach that point.

  • Practice mindfulness in meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises to help you stay aware of your thoughts and emotions

  • Change your scenery. Sometimes gaining perspective on difficult situations is easier to do when you are physically in a different location. This can mean going out of town for the weekend or simply visiting a different coffee shop/ office/ library to work on your problem.

Part of building resiliency involves keeping things in perspective, such as a difficult job hunt, and maintaining a positive outlook on the situation. Developing a practice of resiliency can benefit your life in many different aspects.

We hope these tips help you gain some insight on ways you can manage stress and boost your confidence so you can make the most out of your job search.

Feel free to reach out to the team if you’d like to know more about temping or one of our amazing job opportunities on our board.