What's more stressful than a root canal? Finding a job


If you're a job-search candidate, you may not be surprised by the results of a new study that show "looking for a job" nearly tops the list of activities that are notoriously stressful. A recent report from Hired discovered that people find it more stress-inducing to try to find employment than to do almost anything else, including moving, planning a wedding, public speaking, doing taxes – and even getting a root canal.

In fact, the only stressors that ranked higher than job search in the study (which had 83 percent of respondents saying they find it somewhat or very stressful) were going through a divorce or breakup (92 percent) and experiencing the death of a loved one (94 percent). Compared with those high figures, getting a root canal got a much more lackluster response, with 73 percent of respondents finding it anxiety-producing.

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[See: 8 Important Questions to Ask a Job Interviewer – and Yourself.]

What makes searching for work so challenging and difficult for working adults? The study identified the interview process as the most stressful part of a job hunt, along with starting over in a new role if you get lucky enough to clear the interview hurdles. With this in mind, review these four tips that can ease some of the stress as you prepare to begin interviewing:

  • Let your resume work for you. You should think of your resume as step one in the interview process, since it's really what can open the door to companies and get the process started for you. If you neglect this point, you may be missing out on opportunities to meet with potential employers. If you prepare your resume correctly, you can also use it as a tool to help guide your discussion and responses during the interview itself. So remember to tailor your resume to the exact position to which you're applying – that means if you're applying for more than one job, you'll need to craft more than one boilerplate resume. Customizing your resume for specific jobs and companies shows the employer that you've done your homework.

[See: The 8 Stages of a Winning Job Search.]

  • Research the company's culture. As you prepare for your interview, pay special attention to learning as much as you can about the organization. While knowing how you want to respond to tough questions can go a long way, it also helps to become an expert on the company that you'd like to join, so that you can showcase your expertise during your interview. Use the corporate website and outside career sites like Glassdoor.com to get an insider's view on the company's culture.

  • Avoid making an interview gaffe. Part of your prep should involve knowing what topics and tone to avoid during your interview. Having savvy answers to interview questions is critical to your success, but it's equally important to understand what issues to dodge during your discussion. One of the biggest no-no's is asking too soon about salary – you definitely don't want to raise this question during a phone screen or first interview. And speaking of phone interviews, your attitude can come through loud and clear even if no one can see you. Be sure to stay upbeat and energetic throughout the conversation – your voice is all that the interviewer has to go on, so it's important that you do your best to sound professional and positive.

[See: 10 Ways to Perfect Your Personal Brand.]

  • Prepare the right questions in advance. Sometimes candidates spend so much time thinking about how they will answer interview questions that they forget to plan for the opportunity that comes at the end of virtually every interview: to ask the hiring team a question or two. Don't give this part of the interview short shrift, since what you ask in these final moments of the interview can leave a lasting impression on recruiters and hiring managers – for better or for worse. Good topics include asking about the skills and working style that the team ideally wants for this role, and what the biggest challenges are that the department is currently facing. Both of these questions give you a chance to end on a high note by getting in one last plug for why you are the best candidate and what you can do to solve the company's pain points.

By being prepared for your interview, you can help decrease the feelings of stress that looking for a job creates. Take some time to think through your interview strategy, and be prepared to execute it – you'll be glad you did.

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