Are You Addicted to Job Hunting?

Are You Addicted to Job Hunting? (Stressed out woman on couch)


We’ve all heard these words to describe individuals who are addicted to a substance or activity. They generally carry with them a connotation that denotes that the people in question cannot control their behaviors when it comes to said substance/activity to the point that it negatively impacts their lives. They obsess about the object of their desire, thinking about it virtually every waking moment and contorting their lives completely around it. It becomes so consuming that pretty much everyone except those who can help satisfy the need are cut out.

Could the same be said about your job search? Now, before you dismiss this as not pertaining to you, take a look at the definition of addiction provided by

ad·dic·tion [uh-dik-shuhn] noun
the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

Now ask yourself these questions:

1. Do activities of the job hunt or strategizing for the job hunt consume every waking hour? This includes time spent enhancing your personal brand on social media accounts, networking on- and offline, researching companies, reading job boards, applying for opportunities, and working on your next move.

2. Are you eating 75% or more of your meals while doing job search-related activities, such as attending networking events or working on the computer?

3. If you are eating meals at the table and/or with your family, are you fixated on the emails and social media updates that flicker across your smartphone screen?

4. Have you ever been annoyed by someone’s suggestion that you spend less time on your job search?

5. Are the activities of the job hunt overtaking most or all other aspects of everyday life (exercising, attending children’s activities, preparing nutritious meals, spending time with friends and family, etc.)?

6. Do you find yourself getting less than seven hours of sleep to be able to fit more time into your job hunt?

7. Does the thought of taking off an entire afternoon from your job search make you jittery?

If you find yourself answering “yes” to even a couple of these questions, that could be an indication of a problem.

To be clear: I recognize that job hunting is serious business. You should be treating it like a full-time job. However, like all full-time jobs, there is a need to take a break from job hunting once in a while. To not do so could damage your health, lead to burnout, and cause a loss of relationships that are key components of your circle of support.

The takeaway here is this: remember to keep all things in balance. Be diligent about your job search, but don’t let it become so all-encompassing that it threatens your well-being and the relationships you have with those closest to you. Taking time to:

  • exercise,
  • eat nutritious meals,
  • get adequate sleep, and
  • connect with others on a meaningful level (i.e. not just about job hunting)

will go a long way to enabling you to be more effective when you are in job hunt mode.

Have you ever found yourself becoming completely consumed when searching for a new job? How did you break out of that cycle to find balance?

Image courtesy of ramsey beyer

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  1. Origami Isopod says:

    Yeah… it’s all our fault for not looking hard enough when we’re out of work. Now it’s all our fault for looking *too* hard. When are “job specialists” like you going to acknowledge the role of corporations and the politicians they own in making so many people unemployed and desperate? Oh, wait, never, because you earn money off that desperation.

    • Melissa Cooley
      Twitter: TheJobQuest

      Thanks for your comment, O.I.!

      You said, “Yeah… it’s all our fault for not looking hard enough when we’re out of work. Now it’s all our fault for looking *too* hard.”

      There is an element of truth to what you say — job seekers are in control of the amount of time and effort that they put into a job search. That is not to lay blame, as your tone denotes, but is something that is quantifiable and qualifiable when the activities of a job seeker are examined.

      It’s no secret that the deregulation of the banking industry and their subsequent activities are what brought about our most recent recession and the terrible unemployment rates that soon followed. I’m not sure what benefit pointing out the obvious does.

      I also don’t understand the benefit of making sweeping generalizations about a segment of the population. In my experience, such statements devalue all of us as individuals and only serve to divide us.

  2. Eat nutritious food? When you’re out of work, you might not be able to eat much at all.

    It’s very easy to view desperation as addiction when you aren’t in that position yourself. People who are out of work are trying very hard to not lose their homes, to feed themselves and their families. They are in crisis, so they act in crisis mode–to solve the very urgent problem of having no income. This is not addiction, it’s a person trying to meet their most basic needs–things that are NOT luxuries, not even optional. Shelter and food. If you don’t have these two things, or at least security in your near future’s supply of them, you would probably also work tirelessly toward the end of obtaining them.

    • Melissa Cooley
      Twitter: TheJobQuest

      Thanks for your comments, Rio. Your perspective is one that is very understandable and easy to fall into.

      Having had more than one time in my career when I was out of work, I know how it feels. The uncertainty is scary (and that is putting it mildly!) However, it is possible to get burnt out from a job hunt that leaves life out of balance. Neglecting sleep and/or subsisting on ramen noodles and mac & cheese won’t help — in fact, executing a job hunt strategy is more difficult when the job seeker doesn’t take care of basic needs like sleep and nutrition. The person doesn’t want to deplete his/her physical resources to such a level that efforts to get a job are less effective.


  1. […] wasn't major, nothing too hazardous – in fact, some of my freelance work has helped me avoid turning my job search into an addiction. In addition, you know the old adage that "looking for a job is a full-time job"? Well, since I'm […]

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