Conquer the emotional downfalls of a job search

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A job search can feel like an emotional roller coaster. Depending on how you left your last position, you may feel elated, deflated, relieved, terrified, desperate, depressed, or possibly, excited and hopeful. Many people feel a little of all of these.

This list catalogs some of the most common emotional downfalls that may occur in a job search and how to avoid them or work your way through them.

Losing your confidence. Job search is hard for everyone (almost), and most people have to look quite a while before a good opportunity works out. Resilience is built by recognizing all the skills and talents you possess, remembering the times you met a challenge and succeeded at handling it, focusing on all the good things past employers have said about your performance, and taking good care of yourself with sleep, exercise, good eating. Speak positively about yourself, and treat yourself like a person of value.

Being afraid to ask for informational interviews, meetings, and contact recommendations. This is where many job seekers stall. It can be awkward to ask for something, most of us avoid it, and prefer to figure things out on our own. People can say no. However, your career is valuable and will be richer for including other people and their wisdom in your process. Everyone’s been a job seeker at some point, most people are pretty empathetic, and many will say yes. Knowing how to contact potential employers can help make it easier.

Taking rejection personally. Wow, another “no” can feel incredibly hard. Thoughts may turn to “what am I doing wrong?” “what’s wrong with me?” “no one will ever hire me!” It can help to get honest feedback from a job club or career counselor or other trusted person; maybe there are concrete ways to improve your approach. And hiring managers are fallible; they might have missed significant points about your abilities. But people who make hires have a problem to solve and are focused on filling an open position, which has nothing to do with your value as a person, or your potential to find a better fit.

Going it alone. Job search can get discouraging! And it’s much easier to feel discouraged when you go it alone. Consider joining a job club or teaming up with another job seeker to check in, brainstorm, and share tips. Your local library can offer computer or Internet access, along with knowledgeable reference librarians and, increasingly, employment help. And spend time at an American Job Center for free services designed specifically to help people get jobs.

Getting lost in the process. The number of possible leads and contacts and job search tasks can feel overwhelming. Sometimes, it just seems easier to distract yourself with those household chores that need doing, or with video games / fun reading / binge watching / etc. Anything to avoid focusing on the next step. It can help to set a schedule for yourself that moves your search forward, while building in self-care and some fun. Remember most jobs are found through communication with your your network, both in person and online, so invest much of your time there and in employer research to keep focused on your targeted jobs and employers.

Bringing negativity from a past job into the present and future. By the time we’ve held a few jobs, many of us have been hurt in some way by a supervisor, co-worker, or even customer. We may carry guilt, anger, anxiety, or feel disempowered. To the best of your ability, clearing through these emotions will allow you to approach the job search with an open mind and heart. You may find help through writing about your past experiences, talking at a job club or with a career counselor or therapist, or asking a friend to listen so you can forgive yourself and others for mistakes made, and free yourself of anxiety about a potential future recurrence.

Besides improving your well-being, recognize that working through any negativity will help you avoid bringing it in to an interview, where it’s very likely to emerge and influence the interviewer’s perception of you as an employee. So better to envision how you would like to feel in the new scenario and act accordingly.


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