Man touching his temple showing anxiety

December 18, 2020, by Jackie Thompson

Dealing With Anxiety During The Recruitment Process

The Career Wellbeing blog series. We know that thinking about your career, applying for jobs, and moving into the workplace can be exciting, but we also know that sometimes it can present challenges and might be a source of stress or anxiety. That’s why, in this blog series, we will explore some of the things that might cause you concern and provide helpful insight and advice, alongside ideas and inspiration for your future career wellbeing.

By Christian Jameson-Warren, Education Employability Projects Officer

Trying to secure work experience or a graduate job can be stressful. You will most likely have to go through several activities for each opportunity you’ve applied for, each with their own level of time and emotional commitment.  Managing this alongside academic and other commitments – with all the associated pressures – may feel overwhelming at times. The following steps may help if you find yourself in this situation.

Identify your thoughts and emotions

Research shows the best way to deal with negative thoughts and emotions is to acknowledge and label them. This helps you to take control, rather than feeling a general sense of overwhelm.

  • What thoughts are you having?
  • What emotions do they lead to?
  • Do you have any physiological reactions to your thoughts (for example, tension in your shoulders)?
  • What behaviours do your thoughts and emotions lead to (for example, procrastination or staying up late)?

Following this process will help you better understand your current situation, and how one thing contributes to another.

Once you’ve established what your thoughts are, it can be useful to review them as often thoughts are temporary and subjective, or in other words not the complete objective truth. Common ‘thinking errors’ that can happen include –

  • All or nothing thinking: ‘I have to get this job otherwise it’ll be a disaster’
  • Overgeneralisation: ‘I got rejected from the job, so I must not be good enough for these other jobs’
  • Discounting the positive: ‘I normally get good grades, but didn’t on the last assignment. Maybe I’m not as good as I thought’

And many others.

Looking at your thoughts, are they completely true – or your interpretation?

Reframing thoughts (especially rejection)

Having identified your thoughts, can you now look at them in a different way? For example, if you have an application rejected, of course it’s natural to feel disappointed. It’s important and healthy to acknowledge this is how you feel at that moment in time.

However, you might start having thoughts such as  ‘everything I try goes wrong’.  After some reflection, you remember that this is a natural part of the process of getting a job and is common to lots of people. You also reflect on the things you did well and perhaps have learnt to do better next time. You also remember that even if you don’t have a graduate job lined up by graduation, there’s still plenty of time to find something afterwards.

Once you’ve reframed these thoughts, again pay attention to your emotions, behaviours and physiology. How has this changed? Do you feel more positive, relaxed, focused and so on?

I’ve worked with numerous students who feel anxious about their future in some way, and have benefited from seeing things from a different perspective.

My other thoughts

  • Accept when you need help with something, whether it’s help from us with interview preparation or talking to a friend because you’re feeling stressed
  • If you’re trying your best, nothing can be irreversibly wrong. You learn more by trying and making mistakes than by doing something perfect first time
  • Plan ahead by term, then week-by-week. Anticipate how your energy levels will be affected by different activities so you can maintain a balance
  • “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best” – Dallin H. Oaks. There’s not time to do every single thing you may want to. When feeling overwhelmed, it can help to prioritise, and let some things go because although fine in themselves, they’re not as beneficial as other things you can be doing. Being busy is not always the same as being productive
  • Be clear on your values and motivations. Spending regular time reflecting on these can help you feel clarity and motivation to step outside your comfort zone when otherwise you might not feel confident enough doing so

Look out for the next post in our Career Wellbeing blog series, it will be available on Friday 22 January and will focus on how to overcome negative self-talk when browsing job adverts and making applications. In the meantime, check out previous posts within the series:

Posted in Applying For JobsCareer wellbeing