5 Easy Ways to Combat Decision Fatigue in Your Job Search

Black man having decision fatigue while looking for a job
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Finding your dream job takes effort and requires a lot of smart decision making. If you don’t go about the process in a strategic way, you risk experiencing decision fatigue. This state of mental exhaustion can make it challenging or even impossible to power through your search.

A job search is overwhelming and stressful by nature. From considering what jobs to apply for to how to tactically lay out your resume, you have to constantly make hard choices during a job search that will directly impact the outcome of the process.

In this post, we discuss how you can avoid decision fatigue during your job search so that you can power through the process and land the right job for you.

Signs of Decision Fatigue

Before looking at the different ways to avoid decision fatigue, it’s important for you to know the signs of decision fatigue. Recognizing the signs early on can help you recalibrate and get back on track. Some telling decision fatigue signs include:

  • Impulsivity: You’re acting without forethought. For example, you’re applying to jobs without making sure that you meet the position’s requirements.
  • Indecision: You’re unable to make decisions quickly. For example, it’s taking you too much time to decide whether or not to apply for a particular job.
  • Procrastination: You’re avoiding specific tasks or decisions you need to make. For example, you’re not actively searching for opportunities to apply for or you’re not replying promptly to requests for interviews.

If you do experience any of these decision fatigue signs, it will be critical to implement some or all of the strategies discussed in the next section.

Ways to Combat Decision Fatigue

One of the best ways to avoid experiencing decision fatigue is to limit the number of decisions you have to make. Use the strategies outlined below to reduce the number of decisions you have to make, quickly make the decisions you do have to make, and remain mentally tough throughout your job search.

1. Establish Hard Edges

Decide on a start and end time for your job search to decrease decision fatigue

A great first step is to establish boundaries. Set specific hours during the day or week that you will dedicate to your job search and try not to spend too much time outside of your set time frame. Spending too much time browsing job boards or agonizing over application details can lead to burnout.

Plus, if you’re constantly job searching, you’re constantly making decisions. Remember, in order to avoid decision fatigue, it’s important to reduce the number of decisions you need to make. 

2. Utilize Deal Breakers

Choose three deal breakers and eliminate any jobs that have them

It’s critical to remember that no job will ever be perfect. When it comes to a specific position, there will always be something, whether it’s the salary, location, or workload, that could be better. Constantly weighing the pros and cons of every job you come across, however, is time-consuming and stressful. 

You can use dealbreakers to help you make faster decisions and quickly eliminate positions that aren’t a good fit and you’re unlikely to be offered or to accept. Set dealbreakers around workload, salary, commute time, benefits, and travel requirements. For example, if you know you’re unwilling to accept a job that requires frequent travel, don’t waste time applying.

3. Limit Your Search

Keep your job search to your expertise and don't look for jobs that you aren't qualified for as they can increase decision fatigue

With so many opportunities out there, many of which are likely not a good match for you, you’ll want to make sure you’re searching efficiently. Create a list of specific keywords to pull up relevant jobs and limit the number of keywords on your list. 

You’ll want these keywords to most accurately reflect what you’re looking for so that the most appropriate positions appear in the search results. For example, if you’re looking for an entry-level marketing position, use keywords such as “junior marketing associate” or “junior marketing coordinator” to bring up qualified positions.

4. Use If-Then Rules

Create a list of processes to make narrowing down options easier

Another strategy you can use to avoid having to make unnecessary decisions is to create a few if-then rules. For example, if you have a rule not to apply to jobs that will require a commute of longer than 30 minutes, and you see a position is located in an area that is an hour away, then don’t submit an application. Use your predetermined if-then rules to eliminate positions quickly so that you save time and mental energy.

5. Take a Break

Step away from your computer if you start to experience decision fatigue and get stressed

Even when you are reducing the number of decisions you need to make and going about the job process as strategically as possible, it’s important to still take breaks. You may need to take a night off or even an entire week, if you’re starting to feel exhausted by the process. During your break, it can be helpful to engage in something that will help clear your mind. Go for a jog, meditate or cook your favorite recipe to relieve stress.

Job searching is a notoriously difficult and stressful process. Prioritizing your mental health and going about your job search strategically can help you succeed and land your ideal next opportunity.

Julia Morrissey
Julia Morrissey
Julia is a lifestyle and career content creator at Siege Media. When she's not writing you can find her jogging in Central Park with her dog or eating vegan cookies.

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