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Burnout is no joke. It’s an extreme state of exhaustion that can manifest as demotivation, anxiety/stress or feeling overwhelmed. Unsurprisingly, the rates of burnout have risen exponentially since the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, web searches for the phrase ‘signs of burnout’ were up 150% in 2020 from previous years, as many workers felt extra pressure to perform to help their companies navigate through the pandemic.

Like in many industries, working in recruitment has had its challenges over the past 14 months. At the beginning of the pandemic, many recruiters found it difficult to get in touch with clients as they swapped their offices for home working and put many roles on hold overnight. Alongside this, candidates felt either disheartened while job hunting or stuck in their current roles as they didn’t want to risk moving to a new role due to the economic downturn.

Now, as the market across many sectors rebounds and new roles are being called into agencies, it may be a difficult (and tiring) transition for many consultants as they try to keep up with demand. If you find yourself in this position, you’re not alone! Below, we’ve outlined four key actions you can take to protect your mental energy and prevent burnout over the coming months.

Recognize your personal cues

While chatting to Lead Consultant for Tiger HR, Aseel Ibrahim, on our Tiger HR Tales podcast, Tracey Carlton from BLME said it perfectly: “it’s so important to be kind to ourselves, and allow ourselves to just have those moments”. Part of this is educating yourself on your personal cues that indicate something isn’t right. Maybe you’re not sleeping very well, or you’re skipping the daily walk you usually look forward to. We recommend letting those around you know what they should look out for if you believe you’re in danger of becoming burnt out, as they may be able to pick up on these things before you do.

Stand up and say “I’m not OK”

Remember: you can only manage so much. We’re all still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, and so it’s normal to feel unmotivated or overwhelmed at times. If, however, you think you’re at the point of burning out, you need to speak to your manager. By reaching out and asking them to re-prioritize your workload, you can get your to-do list back under control. In these situations, taking a step back and assessing where you need help is essential.

Draw a line around your boundaries

As teams continue to work remotely or partially remotely, over-communication is key. This is also the case when it comes to your boundaries. At the very least, you should let your team know when you’re finishing up for the day and when you’re taking your lunch break. If you need to take a few hours out to finish paperwork or work with minimal distractions, block that time out in your diary and protect it like you would a meeting with a client. These healthy behaviors will demonstrate to your team the importance of separating work from home time, which in turn should help prevent overworking.

Build a support network

Whether it’s your desk buddy or your best friend, having at least one person you can offload your thoughts and feelings to is so important when dealing with difficult situations. Organizing regular catch-ups with your support network is essential to check in with how you’re feeling. It could be something as simple as a five-minute chat at the end of the week, or a monthly get-together over drinks. Whoever you choose, you need to give that person the permission they need to step in if they see you displaying negative behaviors. This way, they can act as a sounding board for potential strategies for coping and can get you through even the most severe bouts of burnout.

As recruiters, we often experience times of extreme pressure. We may have to work long hours or become stressed when preparing shortlists for several different clients at once. However, when it comes to feeling burnt out, you need to act quickly in order to prevent yourself from becoming sick or unable to function. By taking steps to prevent the cause, you should be able to overcome burnout and promote healthier ways to manage your mental health and wellbeing.

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