Infographic: Scarcity in the job search

Scarcity is a common experience for unemployed job seekers who are faced with lack of opportunities and resources, loneliness and social isolation, and little to no feedback. When we’re low on resources, we focus on our immediate and urgent tasks. Scarcity driven “tunnel vision” causes us to neglect tasks we don’t deem priority, but that might be beneficial for us to do in the long term.

Unemployment can limit our cognitive resources, leaving us with a lack of mental bandwidth and slack. This can severely impact our ability to conduct a job search that uses multiple methods and keep longer-term outcomes in mind.

This week’s infographic is an extension of our previous blog. In it, we provide some practical tips for dealing with scarcity and planning a job search with better future outcomes.

Infographic explaining Scarcity. Details of infographic listed below.
Infographic explaining Scarcity. Details of infographic listed below.


Job hunting is a stressful task regardless of your situation. It can be especially challenging when you’re dealing with all the situational, financial, social and psychological pressures of unemployment.

What is it?

Experiencing scarcity can create the feeling you don’t have enough of a resource- for example, time, money or energy.

In the job search

A scarcity mindset is common in unemployed job seekers due to scarce job opportunities and resources, loneliness and social isolation.

Scarcity and "Tunnelling"

Scarcity creates “tunnelling effect.”

Tunnelling is a psychological state where we focus on things we deem urgent and immediate, unable to think about anything outside of our immediate problems. It impacts our ability to problem-solve and make decisions focused on long-term outcomes.

Bandwidth and slack

If you pack for vacation but get told at the airport the dimensions of your suitcase are incorrect, you’d have to repack and take fewer clothes. The lack of space (bandwidth) creates a scarcity effect. When we have to make difficult choices and tradeoffs, it can tax our brains.

Mental bandwidth:

Your mind’s ability to think about things outside of the immediate problems you’re dealing with.

What this does to cognitive ability

The experience of unemployment and the job search can create loads that can impact cognitive ability. Tunnelling encourages short-term (myopic) thinking and limits our ability to plan and consider the long-term consequences.

Examples of Myopic Behaviours:

  • Prioritizing sending out resumes and cover letters

Examples of Long-Term Behaviours:

  • Networking
  • Preparing for interviews

Tips for dealing with scarcity

  • Reach out to friends and family to reduce any feelings of social isolation.
  • Break down large tasks to reduce your mental load.
  • Increase slack by focusing on wellness.
  • Set reminders now for important future events.

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