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What to Do if You’re Procrastinating When Applying For a New Job

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

Did you know that highly motivated people also struggle with procrastination? Here are some tips to help overcome procrastination when job searching.

When we think of procrastination, it’s usually associated with laziness or lack of motivation. Did you know that quite the opposite can be the true cause? People who are highly motivated and possess a solid work ethic also struggle with procrastinating. Why? Because procrastination “is a protective strategy for coping with conflicting motivations,” according to Dominic Vogue, senior associate director at the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning at Princeton University. (

The motivations behind finding a job can be complex, and this triggers procrastination. Job seekers usually want a good-paying position along with aligned values, service to a common good, and career satisfaction. At the same time, they also want to protect their own personal brand and worth which will inevitably be under judgment during the process. With this in mind, here are three strategies for overcoming procrastination as you look for a job.

Schedule in time. Everyone tends to be overbooked in today’s world. As you look for a job, life commitments like your current job, kids, partners, cooking, cleaning (just about anything) may seem more important than applying for open positions. To help, break your search into achievable categories: research, identify, and prepare. First, research what jobs are available. Next, identify those that interest you and that you qualify for. Finally, work your resume and cover letter to fit these openings. All of these steps are logical, but the key is to schedule the planning period on the front end and commit to doing it.

What are your fears? At the deep core of procrastination, there could be fears as well. Especially if you’ve been job searching for a while, you could be dealing with some paralyzing fears. Fear of rejection is a major reason people put off applying for jobs. It’s important to learn how to reframe this type of rejection. Everyone goes through it, and through rejection, you may be saved from a job that you would have hated. Take charge of your fears and don’t fall victim to them as this only slows you down from achieving what you want to in life.

Take breaks. Looking for a job can be a relentless task that (until you land that new job) can be really thankless. Just the idea of sending dozens of cover letters and resumes out into the abyss only to never hear anything back is enough to make you not want to get started. For this reason, push yourself to get going but schedule some breaks in ahead of time. Maybe take two days off a week when you don’t think about applying for jobs. Be intentional about taking this time and commit to it as much as you commit to submitting applications.

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