In my Human Resources recruiting practice, I work with candidates of all ages and competencies who battle despair, fear and self-doubt in the face of the unknown. Moments of insecurity are to be expected during a job search, and in a competitive job market, it is not uncommon to see a deeper crisis of confidence. Job hunting can be extremely unsettling, even for the most accomplished and marketable professionals.
On the other hand, this journey can be motivating and thought-provoking, revealing new avenues, more meaningful connections and better opportunities to explore. This is a more rational outlook to have while searching for a job that resonates with your interests and career goals. You can easily adopt this perspective by flipping your emotions on their axis to work to your advantage.
The most important question
Talk show host Johnny Carson once said, “Talent alone won’t make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is, ‘Are you ready?’”
Knowing what to do and doing it are critical to a successful job search, but they are very different and if not mentally separated, can riddle you with anxiety-inducing thoughts. First up is recognizing key steps to prepare yourself, and second is taking action. Following are positive, productive ways to ‘get ready’ – and prevent emotional barriers from weakening your frame of mind in the process.
Worried about your résumé? Take it from good to great.
Your résumé is the single most important marketing tool needed for your job search. Make it your top priority to seek help in crafting an effective one. The right recruiter, one who specializes in HR talent acquisition and placement, may be your best resource for guidance on what turns heads on the hiring side of the table. A powerful, memorable résumé will give you much-needed confidence, and it will open doors.
Evolve! Your efforts will strengthen your resolve – and will be noticed.
Roles are expanding within Human Resources, far beyond traditional administrative functions. Much is happening in the talent acquisition space, as well as in performance management, organizational effectiveness and employee development – all geared to deliver positive financial impact. Today, HR professionals are found in the conference room talking to executives about growing profits through talent engagement and acquisition, retention, training, development, progression planning and more.
As you reach for the job you want, consider what credentials, courses, workshops, associations or networks may move you closer to connections and opportunities in your area of expertise or desired direction. These are potent boosters for your confidence, your résumé and during interviews.
Become better at interviewing
Interviewing is a skill and some people are just naturals. If you are not one of those people, don’t feel discouraged because this is something you can become good or great at doing with guidance and practice. Ask someone in the recruitment world or an HR professional to be a sounding board and conduct hypothetical interviews.
A good tip for interviewing that reduces performance anxiety is to remember this is a two-way street: You and a potential employer are here to explore each other. In other words, it’s not all on you. Be fully prepared to discuss your accomplishments and experience, but also be prepared to ask about your potential role and its impact on the company, and about company goals. Employers value astute, inquiring candidates who have done their research.
Boost your confidence in an objective and tangible way
As human beings and as professionals, we lack objectivity in identifying our own strengths. This is compounded during a job search, where, even with a powerful résumé, it is easy to lose sight of our distinguishing traits and qualities. Many job seekers get caught up in the mindset of competing with others who have comparable experience and skills. You can avoid becoming emotionally flattened out with such thoughts by elevating your worth and value to the forefront of your days.
If you have a LinkedIn account, ask members in your network to post recommendations of you on your page. Most professionals are honored to be asked and happy to oblige. You can also ask current or former co-workers, superiors or colleagues what they value most about you as a professional. Gathering objective, tangible feedback, you will almost certainly find in the opinions of others that you have unique traits and qualities you don’t realize you possess. This can be mind and career altering!
Turn away from isolation. Build a team of supporters.
Many professionals changing jobs take on the challenge alone. There are many reasons, insecurity and fear being two big ones, but I can’t think of one good reason to do this alone. While it is important to be selective, asking for help is one of the best ways to stay positive, focused and open to possibilities. Tap a trusted friend or colleague, a career coach, a recruitment specialist, or better yet, one of each. People who are genuinely interested in your success will provide emotional and professional support, and some, like a recruitment specialist or HR professional, are your direct lines to select jobs.
Remember that rejection can work both ways
Almost nothing is more demoralizing than being strung along, left hanging with no follow-up or turned down for a job. These outcomes send many job seekers into a tailspin. It’s understandable. Abandonment and rejection hurt. But fear of rejection is a non-starter.
To head this emotional pitfall off at the pass, remember that ‘fit’ – as in the right company culture and right job for you personally – is just as vital for you as it is to a prospective employer. What about the money, the hours, opportunity for advancement, whether you will fit in with your superior or colleagues – is this job really what you want and where you want to go? There should be many questions and they are all valid.
When you look at the job market this way, fear gives way to rightful expectations. An employer will decide whether to make an investment in you. You should absolutely wage the same consideration of the employer. Opportunities should be mutually beneficial and rewarding. Sometimes, rejection is a blessing, and you also have the power to say no.
What’s good about emotions during the job search? They can propel you into action with a healthy, positive mindset. Emotions are also infectious. Surround yourself with positive, supportive and well placed people as you pursue your career move. And with every step you take on your journey, remember you are unique and in control, and that there are ideal opportunities for everyone – if you are ready.