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Finding a new job after burnout

You have just recovered from burnout and would like to get back to work, preferably with a new employer. How do you go about this? And do you tell your potential employer about your burnout during the job interview or not? 

Was your job or the working conditions at your current employer the cause of your burnout? Then you probably do not want to return after your recovery. Take some time to think about what you really want: do you think you can regain energy and satisfaction from a similar position in another organization, or do you resolutely opt for a complete career switch

Whatever you choose, the application process will be slightly different from a standard job application. After all, you want to make the right choice. International recruitment firm Robert Walters shares some tips for successfully applying for a job after burnout.

The impact of burnout on your career 

Recovering from burnout is often a prolonged process. It can easily take a full year and during that time your professional growth has pretty much stalled. Internal training or interesting projects passed you by during your absence, or you may have missed an opportunity for promotion.   

What has not been stagnant, however, is your personal development. Once you have recovered from burnout, you have gained a great amount of self-knowledge. You now have a better understanding of where your limits are and how to guard them. Perhaps you have also learned how best to relax, how to deal with stress and who to turn to for help. These are all valuable insights that will benefit you for the rest of your career. In other words, burnout has both a positive and a negative impact on your career. 

First reflect, then apply 

A burnout is not a pleasant period, and you want to avoid a relapse once you have started in a new position. Therefore, reflection is a crucial step in the final phase of your recovery process. 

Think about your burnout. Why was your stress level so high? Did you not dare to say "no" and take on more responsibilities than you could really handle? Did your position perhaps not quite fit you? Why do you think so? There can be many reasons for this.

Only when you have found out for yourself what the problem was and how you can avoid it in the future can you start looking for a new job. 

 

In addition, reflect on yourself: what are your strengths? What do you like to do and in what type of organization do you feel at home? What does an ideal workday look like for you? Put everything together before you start scouring job websites. That way you can search more specifically for a job that really suits you.

Nearly one in three people who return to work after burnout suffer a relapse sooner or later. So, before you decide to apply for a new job, it is best to take enough time to fully recover. If you start too early, there is a real chance that your bucket will soon overflow again. Therefore, only start applying for a job when you are completely ready. When exactly that moment is, is different for everyone. 

Give yourself an achievable goal 

It can be tempting to go for it full steam ahead after your burnout. Be careful with that. Set yourself some realistic and achievable goals, both in terms of time and work content. Working part-time can be a great start, so decide for yourself how many hours would suit you best. If you conclude that 3 days a week would be ideal, do not apply for a full-time job, but start looking for part-time positions instead. Was stress at the root of your burnout? Then it might not be a good idea to apply for a leading position at this point.

Mentioning burnout during your application: yes or no? 

As soon as you have found an interesting job offer and have been interviewed, you may wonder whether you should mention your burnout during the job interview or not. If you are still recovering and think it could affect your work, it is advisable to say so honestly. 

If you have now fully recovered from your burnout and feel that you are once again completely ready for the job market, then there is no need to say anything about it. But you may consider mentioning it at this point. For example, did you come out of it stronger or did your burnout give rise to a career switch? Then it can be powerful to discuss your burnout period. 

Of course, do not mention your burnout at the beginning of the job interview, but only when your interviewer has already formed a clear picture of you. That way you have the chance to make a good first impression and the news about your burnout will come across more gently. 

Just keep in mind that you may not be able to choose the moment you bring it up. The recruiter may ask a question that you can only answer by also being honest about your burnout. Also remember that your interviewer may ask critical questions when you talk about your burnout, but he is not supposed to ask you about your health or absenteeism. An employer should only ask questions that are relevant to the position you are applying for. 

Hired! Now what? 

Were you able to obtain the new job? Congratulations! Now you can increasingly leave your burnout and its consequences behind you. Even if you feel your burnout is over, it is still important to listen to your body and guard your limits.

Are you getting the idea that you are becoming more and more stressed and losing track again? Report it to your manager in time so you can come to a solution together.
 

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Have a look at other tips and advice to advance your career. Looking for a new professional challenge? View our latest vacancies.

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