120. When job hunting hurts: What to do about it and how to avoid setbacks.
I have seen many exceptional professionals give up on their job search for months or even years because of what they perceived was a rejection, be it a lackluster reception of their interest in being promoted or a job they applied for and didn't get. I spoke recently to someone who took two years to recover from a rejection from a job she applied for and believed it was a dream job for her. She was indeed a great fit for the role and went all the way to the final interview stage. But at best, her chance was 50%, assuming another excellent candidate was competing for the position.
Taking too long to try again takes a toll on your career. That's what I address in this episode and offer ways to overcome the negative feelings so you can move on with your career.
There is no reason to feel bad about missing out on a job opportunity.
So many professionals feel embarrassed when they feel that it's taking too long to find a job. They believe there is something wrong with them. They also hate talking about their job search. It takes real vulnerability to share that things are not going your way. I also see professionals who give up on job hunting and blame everything on others, especially recruiters and employers. Yes, I agree that the recruitment process is not easy, imperfect, and structurally biased to benefit the employer. But once the job candidate realizes it is a game to play, the process becomes more straightforward and less stressful with rules you can learn.
Negative self-talk is bad for your brain.
This is a really serious issue. Probably worse than you think, and this is why: negative self-talk is bad for your brain. Studies show exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity each day negatively affects your hippocampus - the part of the brain that makes decisions. Do you know what this means? It means negative self-talk is making you dumber.
What happens when you are not resilient:
When rejection leads to negative self-talk, it can lead you to
- take too long to apply for jobs again,
- feel that you are not qualified enough or educated enough to apply for the roles you want, and
- get trapped into thinking you need to go back to study, usually an MBA or other master program. This leads to career stagnation, significant expenses, and not necessarily a better job after graduation.
Be kind to yourself.
People typically don't set out to hurt your feelings or destroy your dreams. But they have other agendas! Their decision was not about you. As much as it hurts not to be chosen for a job you wanted, their decision was about their needs and a great choice of candidates to choose from, including you.
Maybe you - the employers and recruiters - have had to make tough choices in the past? Have you had to choose between one person and another? It's not easy, would you agree?
When someone chooses the other candidate for the job, it doesn't mean they did not like you or you were not a good fit. Many factors contribute to an important decision like choosing a new employee. So, protect yourself from negative thoughts and move on! Put yourself in someone else's shoes. What advice would you give your best friend? Remember to be your best friend!
Strategies to overcome it:
- Don't accept first rejection as a reason to stagnate or procrastinate
- Reflect and try again
- Fellow career coach J.T. O'Donnell believes that revisiting and refreshing your job routine is a great strategy. He wrote: "Face up to the fact that something is wrong with your strategy. You need new experiences. You need to create new habits. You need to access new resources. You need to surround yourself with new people. New, new, new. Change up what you are doing and who you are doing it with."
- Recalibrate and have the courage to try again. When looking for work, you must appear excited energized. Listen to my previous episode about giving yourself a good break and separation from your job search.
- Give yourself options. Instead of having only one option, take time to develop a range that you can live with. Sometimes clients think I will tell them to focus on one job application or one course for their careers, when in fact, I am all about minimizing risk and playing a long game. Playing a long game means you can take sidesteps, experiment take time out.
- I don't waste time perfecting something before starting your job search. Start, review the data from your applications, then optimize your job search and career plans for success.
- [00:57] The reason behind this episode.
- [01:57] Check out the Free recorded webinar.
- [03:03] Embarrassment around job hunting.
- [03:56] The serious issue of negative self-talk.
- [05:50] Is Further education needed in job hunting?
- [06:14] Be kind to yourself.
- [07:48] Treat yourself like you'd treat your best friend.
- [09:15] Training the resiliency muscle.
- [10:52] Learning from your unsuccessful job hunt.
- [11:39] J.T O'Donnell's advice
- [12:49] Take a break and come back swinging.
- [13:49] Don't waste time perfecting something before you search.
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Optimized job search schedule
- Episode 119: How to escape from your job search and not feel guilty
- Article by JT O'Donnell on Rejection
- Transcript of this episode