Job search: manage your panic response

For anyone who has lost their job as a result of lockdown during Covid-19 it is only natural to panic at the prospect of looking for a new one. But that is the worst thing you can do. The best thing you can do is carry out your new job search calmly and consistently in the way you (hopefully) would have done before Covid-19 disrupted our lives. Continue to take exactly the same steps as before. Decide what types of jobs you want to apply for and update your CV so it reflects the experience and qualifications these jobs require. Be prepared to write different versions of your CV if you are applying for jobs in different sectors or areas within an organisation.

Prep for your job interviews is essential. You should inform yourself on the types of questions interviewers typically ask candidates and consider the types of questions you would like to ask too. I would suggest prepping for interviews before you’ve even been invited to one so that you start to train yourself and build your confidence – especially if it’s been a while since you last had an interview.

Taking a personality profiling test such as DISC can be a useful way to identify your core strengths and challenge areas. This way it makes it easier for you to find the right words to use on your CV, cover letter and in interviews. When you have pinpointed your weaker spots, you can decide what you want to do with those. Is it worth turning them into strengths or not? Does the job you’re applying for necessitate that you up-skill or not? Could you focus your attentions elsewhere? Would starting to learn a new language be more useful? Do you need to brush up on your negotiation skills? Would learning some coaching techniques make you stand out? Do you need to achieve the next level in quality management certification? Would learning how to code give you the edge?

Panicking is the worst thing you can do because it seriously limits the way you approach your job search and the preparations you make. You want to approach your job search wisely. Panicking triggers your cortisol levels to spike which in turn causes emotional and perceptual impairment. You are more likely to have knee-jerk reactions and make bad decisions. Over time, the more your cortisol levels are triggered, the more you will suppress your immune system, causing inflammation in the body and leading to a lowering of your white blood cells that you need to fight off infection. So, to keep your cortisol levels under control you need to practice keeping your triggers in check. Research by Afifi et al (2018) showed that high cortisol levels are also triggered by social media use which suggests that when we have to focus on something as important as a job search, we should be limiting the time we spend on social media platforms too. Getting good at skills such as time management and stress reduction through self-coaching, mindfulness practice and other types of meditation helps you focus better, come up with better ideas and ultimately reach your job search goals.



Afifi, Tamara & Zamanzadeh, Nicole & Harrison, Kathryn & Callejas, Acevedo. (2018). WIRED: The impact of media and technology use on stress (cortisol) and inflammation (interleukin IL-6) in fast paced families *. Computers in Human Behavior. 81. 265-273. 10.1016/j.chb.2017.12.010.