Everything else being equal, would a candidate with six months of savings have a better chance of getting a job offer? How about someone with a full year of savings? The more savings you have and the more financially sound (and literate) you are, the better the odds are of landing a job—but why is this the case?

Stress stemming from financial insecurity is a big reason. Even if someone is just as qualified as a financially secure competitor and puts in just as much time following a professional resume template and applying to positions, stress can creep up and reveal itself in unexpected ways.

Stress caused by worrying about finances or simply not having enough money can cause a trickle-down effect in all facets of your life including looking for a job. This might mean you accidentally make a typo in your cover letter that you otherwise wouldn’t have had you been able to enjoy lower stress levels.

It might mean you’re simply not on point in your interview. It’s important to do what you can to reduce stress throughout your day, and getting in a better financial situation can be a great way to do this. However, beware because sometimes getting to a better financial situation can cause even more stress depending on how you go about it.

Are Side Hustles Helping?

One of the most common ways to try and save more is to pick up a side hustle. The gig economy is booming in certain sectors right now, such as with food delivery. This can be a great way to make more money and stash some aside (as long as you handle this revenue stream correctly).

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However, it can also come at a cost. Side hustles that are too demanding of your time, put you at risk (such as if you worry over COVID-19 and are immunocompromised), or are otherwise negatively affecting your life might be more trouble than they’re worth.

A side hustle can help you save, but it can also get in the way of getting a new, better, full-time job. For example, maybe you’re running on empty by working all these extra hours but now you don’t have time to properly look for a new job. Maybe you’re getting sucked into the spiral of working around the clock and your will to job hunt is waning. A side hustle isn’t for everyone, and even if it is for you, it’s critical to make sure you’re in control of it and not the other way around.

Financial Instability for Motivation

There are certainly some people who thrive under dire conditions—or at least think they do. Some of us have created a crisis response that pushes us into overdrive. This may have presented in the past as procrastination because you think you “work best under deadlines.” The reality is that this isn’t true, but rather that you’ve become used to the cortisol that starts to surge when you’re in a crunch. If you think financial insecurity is what’s driving you to look for a new, better job, look closer.

In the long run, that “rush” of feeling like you have to land a job by a certain date “or else” is going to do a number on you physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. You might be able to get some “wins” in the short run, such as applying for an incredible amount of jobs on a certain day, but these advantages will be short-lived.

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Get Breathing Room with Financial Security

If you really want to give yourself leverage in this demanding job market, building financial security slowly and steadily is key. When you have a few months of savings socked away, you have the time and ability to focus specifically on the types of jobs that will make you happy and provide the benefits you desire for a happy, healthy life. You can look for jobs while also working towards creating savings, but know that this approach might take a little longer—and that’s okay.

The skills you learn as you get smarter about finances can also translate to a potential new position. For example, learning how to budget and save can easily be a benefit to a number of job roles such as non-profit management or helping with small business bookkeeping as part of your new job. If you’re prone to doing all or nothing or overachieving, pace yourself. Set a reasonable schedule every day dedicated to tasks designed to better financial literacy as well as preparing for job hunting.

Before diving into the job market, take care of some housekeeping first. This includes revisiting your resume as well as your online and social media profiles. Overhauling and updating these items can be very time consuming and can be undertaken along with better financial habits.

You can also start asking around to friends and family to see who loves their employer, which will allow you to dig deeper. A personal connection will give you incredible leverage over someone who approaches a company out of the blue.

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As you begin this new journey, remember that it’s not just about the money, but that’s a big part of it! Going into the job market with a sense of financial security can help give you the space you need to make wise decisions.