10 Tips for Job Hunting When You Have Social Anxiety
For some people who live with social anxiety, the prospect of looking for a job can often feel daunting at best and downright terrifying at worst. When you’re already facing fear of interacting with strangers or fear of humiliation in your day-to-day life, it can be hard to motivate yourself to willingly undergo a job hunting process that makes you face a big source of anxiety.
If the phrase “job hunting” strikes fear into your heart, we want you to know you aren’t alone, and there are some practical tips you can use to make your experience better.
We asked our Mighty community to share what job hunting tips they would give someone with social anxiety — and added some of our own.
Here are 10 tips for job hunting when you live with social anxiety.
1. Think About Jobs That Would Suit Your Skill Set
Social anxiety, like all conditions, exists on a spectrum. For some, a job that requires interacting with people all day is a no-go, while for others, a job like this is a way to face anxiety head on.
“Take some time to reflect on what makes you feel purpose, passion and contentment. Once you have this list, it might be helpful to identify what places of employment will offer you some or a lot of these things.” — Charlotte E.
“Don’t do customer service. Apply for stocking jobs, cleaning (maid), specialized jobs (contracting/painting/cars/etc.), personal organizers, managing a social media page… Think of what you truly enjoy doing in your free time that does not cause anxiety, then think of a way you can apply that to a job. There are quite a few options for you to do. Even just Googling ‘anti-social jobs’ might help you figure what to look for.” — Jessy T.
2. Practice Positive Self-Talk in Your Daily Life
It’s hard to summon confidence during your job hunt if you are talking down to yourself all day long. While it’s common to struggle with feelings of self-worth, it’s important to remember people don’t gain confidence overnight. Try taking steps to cultivate positive self-talk in your life.
“Spend as much time as you can listing and reminding yourself of all the achievements you have made each day — big or small — to remind yourself you are capable and have qualities other people adore.” — Saibh M.
3. Do a Little Every Day
Breaking down the process into small, reasonable chunks can positively affect the level of success you feel. For some, it might mean devoting one hour a day to job searching or sending in a certain number of applications. Take some time and assess what is feasible for you. Don’t be afraid to start small!
“Keep job hunting despite the anxiety! Do a little every day, even when you feel like you can’t.” — Ariana M.
“It’s sadly an extrovert’s world — especially professionally. Take baby steps, but walk. Make that phone call. Rest a while. Talk to that person. Rest a while. Prepare down to the word if needed. This is what I tell myself.” — Husaina P.
“Figure out the places you want to work. Fill out each application with great detail and go to each interview as if it’s the most important. Focus on each small step and most importantly keep moving forward no matter what responses you receive.” — Carl S.
4. Apply Widely
Maybe you have only been considering jobs in your area. If social anxiety makes you recoil at the idea of jumping into a new office environment, it might be a good idea to consider applying for a remote job. Expanding how you think about your job search can help you maximize your net and hopefully the number of responses you get in return.
“Apply apply apply! Jobs you think are farther than you want to work? Apply. Jobs that aren’t the exact job you want? Apply. Jobs you’re not quite sure if you’re qualified for? Apply. Even if you end up going on interviews for jobs that you get turned down for due to lack of experience or due to distance, it’s good practice for the interviews that really count. I also always find a way to subtly bring up my anxiety and give it a positive spin. Being a teacher, my anxiety really allows me to connect with students who struggle in school and allows me to be a role model. I will mention this when the right question comes up, and talk about it like it’s just a fact about me. Because it is a very important part of who I am!” — Lauren S.
5. Preparation Is Key
A great way to reduce anxiety about an interview or application is to think ahead. If you struggle with overthinking, recruit a friend to help you write a list or “action plan” of things to accomplish before your interview — and leave it at that. Try visiting the location of your interview in advance or picking out your outfit a few days before to lessen some of your worries.
“Have a plan. A week before the interview take a trip to the place where [it will be held] so you know how to get there without freaking out. Have a plan. You need to sell yourself at a interview, so practice and write down your good points. Also find out about the company before the interview so when these questions are asked, it’s easier for you to answer. It’s all about planning and feeling confident when you walk into that room.” — Mary W.
“I had a great teacher and she taught me how to prepare. She had me set up a resume binder. It contained my resume of course but also so much more. It had all of my certifications, letters of recommendation, skills and awards. There was even a tab for frequently asked interview questions. It really helped because I knew that if I froze up, I could just refer to the binder.” — Becky B.
6. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a great skill for life in general, but when applying for jobs, people can be especially vulnerable to negative self-talk when they experience real or perceived rejection. Being able to notice a feeling without judgment and keep things in perspective can be really useful in a stressful job hunt.
“Learn mindfulness — it will bring down some of the anxiety. Headspace has a great guided mindfulness app for free. When you arrive at the interview venue, arrive early so you can ‘use the bathroom.’ Do your mindfulness there and then wait in reception. I recruited for 20 yrs and I can assure you the interviewer is probably just as anxious.” — Veronica H.
7. Practice Interviewing
For many people with social anxiety, interviewing is the scariest part of a job search. A great way to combat this anxiety is to practice by setting up a “mock interview” with a family member or friend. Check out this list of 50 common interview questions and make some notes on how you would respond to them. Ask for your loved one’s input. Additionally, if you are a university student or have recently graduated college, make use of the campus career center, which usually has interview preparation classes or mock interviews for free.
“When you are invited in for an interview, ask if there is anything specific you should prepare in advance. I also recommend asking to bring some notes in… Practice with someone you trust. Deliberate practice is uncomfortable for most, however, it will best prepare your brain in the moment of ‘fight or flight’ and help you to adopt strategies to manage your anxiousness in the moment.” — Charlotte E.
“Your local Adult Community Learning Department (council department) often runs courses that might help with interview skills and practice and are sometimes free.” — Dave C.
8. Keep Hygiene Essentials in Your Bag or Briefcase
Having mini travel essentials on hand like deodorant, baby wipes or oil blotting sheets can be a lifesaver in moments when your social anxiety symptoms present physically. And, excusing yourself to go to the restroom before or after an interview can give you a moment to collect yourself and slow your breathing, if you need it.
“[Are you worried about] sweaty hands for the handshake? Rub your hand discreetly on your suit jacket as you bring it forward. If it’s bad, use strong roll on deodorant on your hands.” — Veronica H.
9. Remember Technology Can Be Your Friend
A lot of times companies will offer the option to do a Skype or phone interview — especially when the job you’ve applied for is a remote position. Take advantage of this when you can, especially if you struggle with first impressions during in-person meetings.
“Skype interviews. [You can keep] the window shaded to an extent where you feel comfortable being seen. You can always say, ‘Sorry my camera is not the best.’ This is the only way I got a job after two years.” — Reanne S.
As silly as it may sound, focusing on your breathing can be a way to feel in control when your body’s anxiety response is starting to spiral. If you’re feeling the start of a panic attack or racing thoughts, take a second to breathe — it could help.
“If you’re in an interview and need a minute to breathe before answering a question, take it. The time will feel like an age to you, but in reality it’s barely noticeable.” — Christina F.
Anything we missed? Tell us in the comments what advice you would give to someone starting a job search with social anxiety.
Thinkstock photo via Aleutie.