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6 Ways to Set Boundaries on the Job Search

woman writing down notes while on the job search

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Searching for a job can feel like a full-time job. Finding the right roles to apply for, personalizing cover letters and resumes, and going through multiple rounds of interviews, can be exhausting and draining. So how can you set boundaries on your job search to maximize your potential without minimizing your mental health?

1. Set Tangible Goals

Between online applications, follow-ups, Zoom interviews, and networking, there’s so much to do in a job search. Everything feels urgent, yet it’s overwhelming to take it all on at once. 

Instead, set daily tangible, specific goals. For example, you might tell yourself that your goal for the day is to customize your resume for that marketing associate position and to follow up on another application. 

Your goals should be things you can reasonably achieve within a day and specific enough that you know exactly how to check them off your to-do list. Instead of telling yourself to “find jobs to apply for,” opt for something like “find three remote investment banker jobs to apply for.”

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2. Work Smarter, Not Harder

You don’t need to spend your whole day on the job search to be successful. Instead, “create a calendar for yourself and dedicate certain hours of the day to the job search,” Olga Eippert, director of people operations at Forage, says. “The rest of the time, make sure you unwind, relax, and do something fun and something that brings you joy.” 

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3. Be Mindful

Thinking about your career trajectory and financial livelihood is enough to send anyone’s head spinning. Practicing mindfulness — by trying to be aware of our surroundings, how we’re feeling and aiming to be present — can help ground us when we’re panicking about our applications or stressing before an interview. Exercises like mindful breathing, body scans, and light movement can help us reset and focus.

“Infusing mindfulness into your job search will help you cultivate intention and calm, which provide the positivity, clarity, and boundaries you need to make your search a success,” Trie Angeleva, mindful career and life strategist, says.  

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4. Be Patient

Waiting for a response from a company doesn’t always mean it’s a “no.” 

“Don’t expect companies to get back to you right away,” Eippert says. “People are busy, especially at (early stage) startups where resources are limited, and sometimes it can take some time for them to see a resume and get back to applicants.”

Instead of getting worried when someone doesn’t respond immediately, practice patience and follow up at the appropriate time (within 24 hours after an interview or however long the hiring manager said it would take for you to hear about next steps).

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5. Reframe Rejection …

“Don’t take things personally,” Eippert says. “A rejection is not a reflection of you or your abilities. It simply means that the job wasn’t the right one for you and something better is waiting for you.”

Rejection can also be a helpful learning tool and an opportunity to get feedback from hiring managers.

“Rather than seeing it as some type of frustration or failure, appreciate that it is a natural part of the process that gives you insights and only gets you closer to a position that is a better match,” Angeleva says.

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6. … and Celebrate It

“Instead of dwelling on the fact that you received a rejection, celebrate it! Every time you get a rejection, say to yourself, ‘thank you universe for protecting me from something that wasn’t right for me,'” Eippert advises.

Don’t let rejection stop you from succeeding in your job search. Once you get a “no,” Eippert recommends taking a break and doing something for yourself. 

“Exercise, take a deep breath, take a nap, meditate, do yoga or watch a funny show/movie that makes you laugh,” Eippert says. “All these things will release endorphins and make you feel better.”

Once you’re well-rested and re-energized, you’ll be able to return to your job search mindfully and effectively. 

Looking for a job can be difficult, stressful, and draining, but it’s possible to get the job done without putting a strain on yourself or your mental health. To build more confidence in your job search and up your workplace skills, check out Forage’s interview and career skill job simulations.

Image credit: RODNAE Productions / Pexels

Zoe Kaplan is a Senior Writer at Forage. Prior to joining Forage, she wrote and edited career and workplace content for Fairygodboss, the largest career community for women.