7 tips to deal with burnout as a recruiter
In the headlines this week was the stark news that NHS referrals for specialist mental health care in England reached a record high of 4.3 million in 2021. Experts fear that we are just beginning to see the “long tail” of the effects of the pandemic on people’s mental health, including anxiety and depression. Work-related burnout can be a major contributor to mental ill-health, particularly if you ignore early warning signs. If you’re feeling stressed and anxious before, during or after work as a recruiter, now is the time to take action to avoid becoming overwhelmed and burnout.
In this guide, we share our seven top tips for dealing with work burnout for people in recruitment. These are designed to help you take a step back and manage stress in its early stages. If your symptoms are particularly intense or you need help right now, call your doctor or get urgent mental health support from the NHS.
- Get organised
Recruitment is a busy business and some days the amount of work on your plate can feel truly overwhelming. This is especially the case if you’re trying to juggle a million things in your mind. Getting organised can help you feel more in control of your workload. First, do a brain dump – write down every niggling task or looming deadline, big and small, that’s on your mind. Then work through the list and decide which tasks are most important and urgent.
For those that are neither important or urgent, consider whether to let them go altogether, or reschedule them for a time when you’re less pressured. Looking at the list, you should also consider whether there are any tasks that could be delegated to your staff, your manager or other members of the team that might have capacity to take them on. A productivity tool might help you prioritise tasks, share work with the rest of your team and reschedule deadlines for non-urgent pieces of work.
Once you’ve done this, you should be left with a more manageable list of the important work that needs your attention. From there you can work out reasonable estimates of how much time you need to allocate to each of these tasks. If you don’t have this time in your working hours, have a frank conversation with your manager about what you should prioritise – showing them the evidence of your task organisation to help support your case. If you feel able to, you could let them know that you’re feeling close to burnout and you are trying to take action to prevent becoming unwell. Most managers will want to keep you happy and healthy at work so will support you in getting your workload to a manageable level.
- Take some time off
Too often, the temptation when we feel overworked and overwhelmed is to keep working. But there’s a lot of truth to the old saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. If you’re experiencing burnout, you need to step back from work. Taking some time away from the office – a week’s holiday or even just a long weekend – will go a long way in helping you recover and feel happier, healthier and more in control. A change of scene is nice if you can get away, but even if you just get your out-of-office on, turn your emails off on your phone and keep your laptop firmly shut, a break will do you a world of good. Use the time to focus on family, friends or things that help you relax, so that you can regain some perspective on work.
- Talk to someone
Mental health is no longer a taboo subject – and it never should have been. One of the best things you can do if you start to feel down is talk to someone: a friend, a colleague, a doctor. Lots of people have experienced stress and burnout at work and will understand how you feel. Sharing your problems will help you feel less alone and isolated. If you want it, your friend might have advice on how to manage the situation or places you could go for help and support. Otherwise, just a listening ear over a drink or coffee can help you get things off your chest and make you feel better.
- Review your working practices
Is there something about the way you’re working that is exacerbating your problems? Many recruiters are now able to work remotely or do hybrid working. Whilst this comes with lots of perks, there can be drawbacks, like feeling isolated and missing the social interaction of the office. On the other hand, if you’ve gone sharply from working from home to full-time back in the office with a commute on top, that might be a bit of a shock to the system. Try and find a balance and a routine that works for you and negotiate this with the rest of your team – there are some tips for this on our blog.
- Celebrate successes
In the relentless world of recruitment, it can be so easy to move from one task to the next, without time to reflect on the projects you’ve finished and the milestones achieved along the way. This gets even worse at busy times or when you’re feeling stressed. But pausing to celebrate what you did well is so important – and where a big part of the job satisfaction of being a recruiter comes from. Next time you place a hard-to-fill role or get great feedback from a client, find a way to enjoy it. Maybe that’s a small treat for yourself like a muffin with your afternoon coffee, or perhaps you find a way to celebrate the achievements of everyone in the team with a wall display or similar.
- Take regular breaks
Just as with the point about taking holiday, it’s so important to make sure you give yourself small breaks throughout the working day. It’s not healthy – physically or mentally – to stare at your laptop all day. You’ll also find that your productivity drops after a couple of hours, so it’s not a good idea to plough through, even if you’re feeling the pressure of your to-do list. This is especially important if you’re working from home where you might miss signals to take a break, like trips to the office kitchen or the lunchtime exodus. Leaving your laptop for a lap of the park or half an hour to do something away from a screen will leave you feeling refreshed and motivated when you get back to your desk.
- Focus on mindfulness
That client presentation that’s coming up next week, that contractor who backed out of an engagement yesterday, that vacancy that needs filling – so much recruiting work is about the past and the future, making it hard to live in the moment. But mindfulness and the ability to enjoy the now is absolutely key to good mental health. Find things that bring you joy and relaxation, grounding you away from work what-ifs and whys. That could be a bubble bath, baking some bread or an arty activity. It could be a good book or a chillout podcast. It could be morning yoga or an after-work stroll in the park – the days are finally getting longer, after all!
Kingsbridge is here to support our recruitment consultant partners. We’ll do everything we can to make life easier for you, like our hybrid IR35 Status Tool that can help you support clients and contractors through IR35 compliance, or the literature we can provide to make getting your contractors set up with our comprehensive insurance package easy and stress-free. For more information about how we can help recruiters, get in touch with our partnerships team.