An important practice I learned while on the job market was to manage my degree of emotional investment. If you are too emotionally invested in getting some job, and you do this for many jobs, then the job market will crush you emotionally because you'll be getting the same rote rejections that everybody but 1 out of 300-400 applicants experiences. Better, I thought, to just not emotionally invest at all. Rejection is hard when you’ve emotionally invested yourself.
I thought this way for a small period of time. Then a friend noted to me that if I didn’t emotionally invest at all, then I wouldn’t put in the sort of determination and energy into my applications that they deserved. I agreed. So, what should I do?
Well, here’s what I did. There were the "schools I wasn’t particularly thrilled about but it's better to have a job than nothing" schools and the "wow schools! but I don’t have the right pedigree or publications or abilities or whatever, so they won't accept me anyway" schools. These were all worth applying to, but I normally put less emotional investment, time, and energy into those jobs. Somewhere in the middle were the jobs I would put more emotional investment into: schools I was both excited about and also thought I had a little more of a chance at getting than the rest. In the end, I’ll admit that I’d often be surprised about where I ended up actually getting an interview, and it wouldn’t always be at the schools where I put more time and energy into the application. Still, this strikes me as good advice.
Here’s another piece of advice that compares the job market and romantic relationships. Put only as much emotional investment into something (or someone) as it (or that person) has put into you. In romantic relationships, one errs when one is already daydreaming about a wedding when the person hasn't even said "Yes" to your request for a first date. And the first date is the first-round interview. If you haven't gotten an interview, then you haven't gotten to the first date.
Therefore, all schools, before a first round is offered, should have very little emotional investment from you. For nearly all of my schools at that stage, I expected rejection, and I honestly didn’t even read most rejection e-mails beyond merely seeing that I was rejected. Still, you should submit an application (i.e., ask the person out) and put in due effort while doing so! But with small emotional investment. Only if you get that first-round interview should you start letting yourself emotionally invest to any serious degree (and you can raise the time and energy you devote to that school), but even then, it should be pretty low. You can start to ramp it up more if offered a fly-out interview.
Well, those were some thoughts about what helped me when I was on the market. Maybe they’ll help you too. Comments, disagreements, and other tips of advice are also welcome!