Managing Stress in the Job Application Process
Jan. 4, 2013
Margot Carmichael Lester, Monster Contributing Writer
You've invested the time in completing the job application,
polishing your resume and writing a compelling cover letter. Once
you've submitted your materials, though, you enter the black hole --
the space between applying for jobs and hearing back from potential
employers. Managing this period of the job search process
effectively is harder than ever in a tight economy. "We've all been
on the opposite side of the desk," says Armen Arisian, HR manager at
Nytef Group, a plastics manufacturing company in West Palm Beach,
Florida. "Twisting in the wind is no fun."
But don't stress. Employ these strategies to survive the
uncertainty without losing your sanity.
It's important to remember there are people on the other side of
the black hole who are doing their best to fill the job in a timely
manner, says Will Pallis, a lead recruiter for VistaPrint, an online
supplier of graphics and printing based in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Chances are good the hiring companies have been inundated with
"While there are a lot of variables here, the most important
factor is how much time the corporate recruiter or hiring manager
has to sift through the resumes submitted for each job," he
explains. "Skilled corporate recruiters have the ability to review
large quantities of resumes to determine if the applicant has the
required skill sets and education required for a particular role.
But if that recruiter has a large volume of active resumes, the
amount of time to review them is obviously decreased."
There's nothing wrong with checking in on the status of your
application, as long as your job-seeking behavior does not become
desperate. Unfortunately, there's no industry standard for how often
to inquire. "Do not be a pest" says Jay Meschke, president of EFL
Associates, a Leawood, Kansas, search firm. "It is fine to seek
acknowledgement of application material after a week, but diplomacy
is the watchword. A potential employer becomes wary of applicants
who become 'stalkers.'"
If you've got a real person to contact on the inside, ask about
the ground rules or protocol up front. "Inquire about when you
should expect to hear back, if you should proactively contact the
gatekeeper and at what intervals, plus what forms of contact would
be most appropriate, such as telephone calls, emails, etc.," he
And if you don't hear back at all? "After more than a couple
[follow-ups], move on same as you would in any other potential
relationship," Arisian counsels. "They're just not that into you."
The biggest challenge may be managing your own emotions. "Learn
to be comfortable with being uncomfortable," says Scott Silverman,
executive director and founder of Second Chance, a nonprofit agency
helping the homeless and chronically unemployed in San Diego. "The
only thing you can control is your own attitude."
To do that, Eric Frankel, a personal branding and job search
expert in Westwood, New Jersey, suggests, "Transition your negative,
stressful feelings to positive, optimistic emotions by supplementing
your job search tactics with positive activities. A limited number
of 'vacation' days are OK when unemployed."
You also can busy yourself by continuing your job search.
Dealing with uncertainty is never easy, but it's a fact of life.
Use this time as an opportunity to focus on what can happen, not
what isn't happening.
"As with the universe, realize that thousands of black holes are
present," Meschke notes. "Each one is worth exploring. You never
know when the black hole evolves into a worm hole that leads to the
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