Keeping anxiety and fear at bay during a job hunt

April 16, 2010 at 11:29 am Leave a comment

It’s tough out there — whether you’re job hunting, working while looking for a better position or just trying to keep your job, the signs are everywhere these days that it’s all temporary and out of your control. Unemployment statistics are dire, layoffs aren’t over in a number of industries and the foreclosures keep coming. It’s no wonder that many of us are a bit anxious — how can you keep anxiety and fear at bay, especially if you are one of the grim statistics?

Hiring experts as well as those of us who have recently survived a layoff to thrive again acknowledge that fear and anxiety are a natural response to the lack of control experienced when you lose your job involuntarily — you didn’t have a choice. But as the old saying goes, you do have a choice in how you handle things going forward, and one of the ways you control your situation is by fighting the fear impulse and replacing it with action.

Here are some tips for keeping anxiety and fear under control for job seekers and workers worried about their jobs:

*Limit your consumption of negative news and other messages. This may sound like odd advice, especially for journalists (many of us have made a career out of negative news!) but especially while job hunting, you need to be selective about what you listen to and read so that it doesn’t make you panicked. (see Oct. 30 post, “Staying positive through avoidance.”) You know it’s tough out there (you’re living it after all) and you don’t need to be constantly reminded. So be selective about what you read. Use some of the time you might have been reading gloom-and-doom stories to do things you enjoy — reading a novel, listening to good music, watching a funny DVD. It’s also not a great time for downer music or movies either.  While you don’t want to have your “head in the clouds” about the realities of the job market, you also don’t need to have it hammered home that it’s competitive out there.

*Follow a regular routine. If you’re busy and your life is structured, there’s less room to ponder all the “what if’s?” and “would’ve-should’ve-could’ves” that lead to anxiety, depression and fear. Especially if you have time on your hands after a layoff or buyout, find a job-seeking structure to your day that works for you, and stick with it. Start your work day at a regular time, take a regular break for lunch, and end at a set time. Have routinized tasks you do every day — sites and blogs (like this one!) that you check, social networks you connect with and a certain number of job inquiries and networking connections you seek to make every work day. Give yourself specific, measurable weekly goals that you can achieve, and then check them off as you do. Sticking to the routine will make you feel more in control and help ward off fear and anxiety. Being busy and productive will also give your friends and loved ones less reason to worry about you, lowering their anxiety level over your job search.

*Be good to yourself. It sounds like a broken record — but it’s all true. Get enough sleep (seven to eight hours, which most of us don’t do!) and aim for good-quality sleep (in a dark, cool, quiet room; don’t watch TV or snack close to bedtime). If you feel like you may be depressed, make sure you don’t sleep too much — and set an alarm to wake you up for working hours. Exercise. Aim to be around upbeat people and put the “negative Neds and Nellies” in your life on hold during a job hunt or a stressful time at work. (You may want to lose them forever if they’re unrelentingly negative, who needs that?) Here’s a tip from a friend who recently wrapped up a job hunt that she says gave her a regular boost: give yourself a “treat” (even a small one) every day of productive job hunting — it can sometimes be food or drink, but better to treat yourself to a funny episode of an old TV show, a new song from ITunes or (my indulgence) a cheesey celebrity magazine (which makes you realize how uncomplicated your life is compared with those wacky celebs!). This is not a time to push yourself in other ways if you can avoid it — give yourself a break and don’t be overly ambitious in other areas of your life while focusing on your career. And if you’re truly depressed or anxious and things are not getting better, see a doctor. Depression is a real medical condition and it needs to be treated — and these days there are effective treatments and medications. Don’t let yourself suffer.

*Note your progress. By having a record of achievement — even if you haven’t yet landed a new job — you will feel better about your search and more organized and energized in moving forward. Find a system that works for you (it can be as simple as noting at the end of each day the letters you wrote and the calls you made, etc., or you might want to log your progress on an spreadsheet, which can also serve as a networking database) and then stick with it. Make noting your progress a regular part of your work day. With each productive call or resume sent, you’re a step closer to getting a good job. By seeing that in real, identifiable terms, it will help keep your confidence level high — which is a great way to ward off fear and anxiety.

*Events, events — here are several that could help with your career:

*The first is the aptly named “Journalism Survival Boot camp” at the National Press Club in D.C. on Saturday, May 15 — and it’s affordable, even if you’re not an NPC member:

Event: Journalism Survival Bootcamp
When: Saturday 15th May, 2010
Where: National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor – Washington, DC 20045
So maybe your stats aren’t good enough for the NPC softball team. But you can learn to stay in the game — the journalism game — on Saturday, May 15 at the National Press Club’s Second Annual Journalism Survival Bootcamp, a day-long career-oriented program aimed at helping reporters and editors stay competitive.

We’ll kick-off the day-long event with a session looking at “Opportunities Hidden in the Headlines” with tips and advice on how to transform yourself into a tech-savvy reporting powerhouse. Later in the day, participants will take classes on video and “backpack” coverage, building online portfolios and more. They’ll also hear from career coaches and networking experts and end with a session on “Where the Jobs are” with top hiring editors.

By the end of the day, members will have the perspective they need to stay relevant in an ever-changing news business. Panelists include top editors and instructors from: AOL, Bloomberg, NPR, Northwestern’s Medill, American University and more. See how you’ll fit into the bigger picture as the media landscape changes; here’s what some people had to say about last year’s bootcamp:

The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and costs $15 for NPC members, $65 for non-members. View the full agenda online at To register: contact Nicole Nottingham at or +1 (202) 662 7523.

*Northwestern University’s Alumni Association is sponsoring a three-part “Networking Naturally” program to learn how to become a great networker — the sessions are online in May. Here are details:

Northwestern Alumni Association invites you to attend the Networking Naturally Program.

Join fellow Northwestern alumni in going beyond the basics of networking to mastering the principles, strategies and tools that will help you succeed now and far into the future.

In Networking Naturally, a three-part webinar series presented by Carol Ross (McC83, 87), experienced career coach, social entrepreneur and founder of My Alumni Link, you will learn to create and nurture the connections needed to thrive in hard times.

As you hone your skills, you will also have the opportunity to expand your network.  Through a participant-only site, you’ll be able to interact with alumni from Northwestern and other universities, including California Polytechnic University and The George Washington University.

Session topics include:
. May 4:   Avoid Common Traps in Networking
. May 11: Create Meaningful Conversations and  Develop Lasting Connections
. May 18: In-Person + Online Networking – Put it All Together

Choose one of two session times:

Midday Sessions:
1pm ET/12noon CT/11am MT/10am PT
Register Here

Evening Sessions: 7pm ET/6pm CT/5pm MT/4pm PT  Register Here

Each session is 75 minutes, with time for questions.

All sessions will be recorded, and the link will be sent after the webinars. If you sign up for one session but are unable to attend one of the webinars, you may attend the other webinar offered that same day.

The first 25 registrants for each session will be eligible to win a free spot.  The winner’s registration fee will be refunded.

*And one more: All U.S. News alumni — and there have been a lot of us over the years — are invited to a happy hour on Thursday, May 6, at West End Bistro at 22nd and M streets N.W. in D.C…It starts at 5 p.m. and goes until whenever…but drink specials are from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Former USNewsers, please spread the word (especially to the recently laid-off batch — we’ll buy THEM drinks!) and contact me or Cindy Powell for more info.

*Now, for some good leads to pursue at the end of this work week:

*First, a few more internship leads. The Worldwatch Institute in D.C. has an opening for an intern (with a stipend!):
Development Internship
Worldwatch Institute – Washington, DC
speak comfortably on the Institutes subject areas. Outstanding communications and interpersonal skills, ability to work well both in teams and independently…

*KaBOOM! in D.C. is looking for an intern:

Corporate Development Intern (DC)
KaBOOM! – Washington, DC
also apply). * Excellent verbal and written communications skills. * Comfortable with research such as… and/or business and communications a plus. Essential…
From VentureLoop

*ASID in D.C. has an opening for a director of government affairs:
Director of Government Affairs
ASID – Washington, DC
to integrate various program objectives is desirable. Must have excellent communications and organizational skills. Budget preparation and administration…

*BNA in Arlington has a temporary (six-month) opening for a reporter to report, research, and write news stories and features for HEALTH PLAN & PROVIDER REPORT. And remember, several dcworks members recently turned temporary jobs (including one at BNA!) into regular ones — it’s a great way to get your foot in the door:

*With a hat tip to (on these next two positions),  MMI Inc. in D.C. is looking for an energy reporter for its Smart Grid Today publication:

Company: MMI Inc.
Reporter with insatiable hunger for energy biz
Washington, DC, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Negotiable
Ad Expires:
May 20, 2010
Job ID: 1163726

Smart Grid Today is the nation’s only daily professional trade news publication on the electric utility industry’s emerging “smart grid.” We have strong subscription sales, and we need a full-time, Washington, DC, correspondent to cover Congress and federal agencies (DOE, FERC & NIST), for starters. This is one of the most important and timely topics in today’s power industry and ours is the journal of record. The stimulus act set aside $4.5 billion to help promote this new industry, and experts agree it’s recession proof and headed for trillions in spending worldwide. Join a highly experienced team headed by the founder of several similar successful publications. You must live in the Washington area. Because we’re a virtual company, you’ll work from home, or wherever you want. (We pay cell phone, home Internet and Vonage account and supply a laptop, etc.). Some travel required. This topic is exciting as utility operations, green power generation and in-home networks converge to create the “intelligent” electric utility of the future. Topics include evolving federal policy, including grants and standards-creation efforts, as well as the technology, services and business strategies behind utility communication networks, in-home/business power automation and monitoring, automated meter reading, electric distribution grid monitoring and remote controls, municipal applications and much more. Job requirements include (1) the ability to produce 1,000-1,500 words/day of concise and precise news copy, (2) great news sense and interviewing skills and (3) a willingness to learn and adopt our writing style. Send a CV, three or four writing samples and a cover letter explaining why you are right for this job to Brett Brune at

*And to wrap up this week’s leads,  Performance Results Corp. in D.C. has an opening for an editor/writer:

Company: Performance Results Corp
Seeking Editor/Writer
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Part-time
Salary: Negotiable
Ad Expires:
May 18, 2010
Job ID: 1163231

Performance Results Corporation is seeking an editor/writer with three to five years of deadline-driven experience in news reporting, news writing and editing for newspapers, news services, newsletters or magazines to produce a monthly e-newsletter and periodic news updates for a federal agency that deals with environmental and energy issues. The ideal candidate will have the ability to prepare and edit engaging and accurate stories on topics relating to the agency’s program activities. You will also have prior experience with layout, design and photography and proven skills in translating technical subjects and concepts into terms suitable for a general audience. You must also be able to write and edit to AP Style guidelines and work smoothly as part of a communications team in a complex government setting. Prior experience with Adobe InDesign desktop publishing software is desirable but not required. The position will have a potential for 32 hours a week of work and eligibility for benefits. Salary will be based on experience. Candidates should submit their resume and three writing and/or editing samples to

Happy hunting! I’m taking a long weekend — in the hills of Georgia — so I’ll be back with you Tuesday!



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