Those two innocuous words can stir up feelings of anxiety and stress even for the most confident person.
For starters, the whole hiring system is basically broken from my perspective. If it weren’t, my inbox wouldn’t be crammed with emails from people needing my help.
It begs the questions….
Why does it take on average, 250 résumés to hire one person?
Why does someone have to apply to literally hundreds and even THOUSANDS of job ads to get a freaking interview?
Why do you literally have to be a professional copywriter with a sales/marketing and recruitment background to know how to create a proper résumé that can attract interviews? (That would be me, by the way. Lol)
Why do you rarely – if ever – get a reply to a résumé you submitted?
There’s more but I thought I’d stop there, otherwise this article is going to get really depressing.
Top 3 Mental Challenges
If you are about to embark on a – dare I say it – job search, there are probably 3 mental challenges that you need to overcome.
- You feel unsure, unsafe, and not in control.
2. You are creating negative stories, like “It will take me months to find a job” or “I’ll never find what I want” or “No one will hire me – I’m too old”.
3. You feel small and insignificant. You suffer from “imposter syndrome” (that’s an actual thing, by the way). You believe that all the other candidates are better than you.
Usually when we feel negative emotions, it’s because we are faced with a situation where the outcome is unknown. It could go well but it might not, so we focus on the “not”.
When we feel any fear-based emotion, it’s because our sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive and the “fight or flight” response kicks in. You literally feel like you need to escape from some external threat or you’re going to die.
It happens when we are faced with something unfamiliar. The threat is the big unknown. It’s the uncertainty. It’s the fear that something bad will happen.
Ironically, this is the time when you are actually given the opportunity to “stretch”. You can either face the uncomfortable head on, walk through it, and learn from it or you can turn away from it and risk growth and development.
The fact is, you need to face unfamiliar things on a regular basis to keep growing personally and professionally.
But, yeah – it’s freaking uncomfortable.
For instance, if you’re about to launch a job search and are unsure about what to do and how it’s going to go or you’re in the midst of one that’s not going well and you don’t know what to do next, you probably feel a range of negative emotions like doubt, confusion, fear, anxiety, reluctance, even shame.
This is happening because you don’t know for sure what the outcome is going to be which triggers other thoughts.
The next thing that happens is that you “buy” into other people’s stories – the kind that you might hear in your network or on social media about job searches.
Some of the stories might sound like this:
- Only 3% of applicants get the interview
- Less than 1% of candidates are hired for the job
- It takes 5-6 months for the average person to land their next job
- If you’re an older worker, you have much less chance of getting the interview/job than someone 20 years younger
- You can’t expect to get a job that you have no experience in
Okay, I admit, I often say things like that, but I’m just passing on general statistics that have a certain amount of validity to them.
While you should take stats into consideration, just remember – they are just stats. They aren’t ALWAYS true in EVERY case.
There are always the “exceptions to the rule”.
You can be that exception.
The third thing that happens, is that you can feel small, insignificant, deflated, and even defeated.
These feelings typically stem from long-held limiting beliefs that you’re not good enough or not important enough or you won’t be successful or that you don’t matter, etc. etc. The list can be endless.
The good news is that those limiting beliefs are basically bullshit and essentially stories you made up and often have roots in your childhood although they can develop later on in life.
You’ve got the power to change
Unless you are some supreme being that doesn’t have an Ego, you are going to feel negative emotions and have limiting beliefs about yourself and the world around you. That’s perfectly normal.
The good news is that you have the power to turn things around.
However, you don’t want to project too far ahead – just try to change your thoughts in the moment or do something in that moment that makes you feel better.
It’s easier and more effective to take baby steps, especially with something that seems so big.
Focus on your strengths
You’ve got them, so now’s the time to take inventory of them – literally.
Take a moment to write down all of your strengths, especially your character traits. Maybe it looks like this:
Then jot down actual examples that support those claims. Be specific.
Then own it. Believe it. Embrace it.
Put them on sticky notes and post them somewhere you can see them every day.
This will remind you about what you have to offer and give you the confidence boost you need to feel better about yourself and your situation.
Take a break
If it’s your job search that’s creating a lot of negative feelings for you, then step away from it for a while.
Take a break from it and do something totally different that makes you feel good, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Help someone else. Being of service to another person in need can make you feel better about yourself and even put things in more perspective, especially if that person faces a much bigger challenge than you. Let’s face it – there’s always someone else that has it waaaaay worse than you.
Go for a walk in the sun, preferably in nature where there are a lot of trees. Trees are amazing living entities that give off positive energy. Heard of tree bathing? I highly recommend it. Go hug a tree – you’ll feel better.
Listen to an uplifting podcast or music. I typically rely on music to boost my mood, but an inspiring podcast can do the same thing. I personally love Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s meditation series. They offer free ones from time to time. Check them out.
Get some exercise, like yoga, running, Zumba. This can release endorphins that will boost your mood. I personally prefer kickboxing because I can hit the crap out of a bunch of inanimate objects that helps to release a lot of stress. Plus, it helps me get lean and build muscle so that if I feel like shit, at least I look good! 🙂
Meditate. However, what you don’t want to do is start thinking negative thoughts for half an hour. It might be better to take a class or follow a guided meditation recording so that you stay on the positive track and don’t veer off into the dark side.
Take a dog for a walk. If you don’t have one, borrow one! Just don’t steal one. lol. It’s been proven that being in the company of a dog can increase your levels of oxytocin. Oxytocin, known as the “love hormone,” is a neurotransmitter that calms your nervous system down, relaxing you, while also increasing your trust. If nothing else, it’s just a hell of a lot of fun watching how excited the dog is to go for a walk.
Do whatever you can to lift your mood so that you get to a more “equanimous” state – that basically means, you are more or less calm and composed – a more neutral state. Then you can resume your job search in a more receptive way rather than being resistant.
Change your story
You’ve got the power to tell yourself a different “story” which will in turn, help to transform your negative thoughts and emotions into more positive ones.
I know this sounds kind of woo-woo, but you literally create your own reality, so just make it a better one.
Think of what kind of story and experience you want and then create it.
- I don’t know how and when I will get that promotion, but it will come
- My résumé will attract interviews, but I need to improve it and leverage networking
- I will find my dream job. It’s out there – I just have to take steps to uncover it
- I will secure a good job offer – I just have to work hard to get it
- Even though it might take a bit longer and require more effort to sell myself for the job as an older worker, I will be successful
The trick here is to create a new story but at the same time, acknowledge and accept that you have no idea how or when things will happen and it will likely take some effort on your part.
If you start to question the how and the when, you will go down the dark path again. Don’t go there.
If there’s one sure-fire way of regaining some control and feeling more positive, it’s taking action.
But, you need to take the right kind of action otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels and it then becomes an avoidance strategy.
Come up with a rock-solid plan of action to bust through the stats and prove everyone wrong. There’s no point in just thinking positive thoughts. That’s not enough. You actually have to take action to move forward and achieve results.
But be forewarned – you might have to move through some tough stuff that scares the crap out of you, but it won’t kill you. Just do it.
The kind of action might look like this:
- Improve your résumé by hiring a pro or learning how to do it yourself
- Get interview coaching so you can ace the interviews and land the job
- Formulate a compelling unique value proposition that sells you for the job
- Eliminate skills/knowledge gaps by taking courses and workshops
- Leverage networking to uncover job opportunities
- Complete a required degree, diploma, certification, or designation
There’s no perfect way to do any of this. The point is to do something productive. Try different things. Eventually, something will work.
The goal is to get yourself in a more positive head space so that you can believe that you have value to offer that will make a positive difference. This believe will give you confidence you need to progress in your career, whether it’s developing in your current role or making a total career change.
Remember to not give up. Keep moving towards your goals – big or small – and reach for your dreams because you do have a lot of value to offer to the world.
On a final note, if you find that you’re still struggling with your job search or overall career which is creating negative feelings and impacting your life, it’s probably a good idea to get some professional help.
Sometimes all it takes is a conversation with an unbiased stranger who can give you some insight and help you see things from a different perspective.
Need some help???
I highly recommend you retain the services of a career professional to help you uncover and leverage your special gifts. Feel free to contact me here.
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Hi! I’m Diana.
I leverage over 14 years recruitment and sales/marketing experience to create attention-grabbing résumés, cover letters, and Linkedin profiles that help job seekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired. You can learn more about my story here and about how I can help you here.
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