6 dark moments every job seeker experiences
Every job seeker knows the pain of yet another rejection letter, or worse, not hearing anything back at all. While some things are out of your control, you might be surprised to learn that you could be self-sabotaging your efforts. Here are six dark moments every job seeker experiences, why it happens, and how to bounce back.
1. You regret the way your last interview went
Even the most successful people can recount at least one interview that went horribly wrong. But beat yourself up too much, and you risk letting fear and negativity affect your performance next time.
'It's healthy to review your interview performance to see where lack of preparation let you down, especially where you missed obvious clues which would have predicted questions,' says John Lees, author of a wide range of career books including Secrets of Resilient People.
'Review once, thoroughly, so you learn from the experience, but then let it go. You'll do better next time – that's where you need to put your energy.'
2. You still feel beaten up about your last job
When the interviewer asks, "why did you leave your last job?" you should be able to give a well-reasoned answer without showing emotion.
John warns: 'You need to get disappointment and confusion out of your system before you put yourself in front of a decision maker. If you're angry about the way your past employer treated you, talk things over with friends and then take a deep breath and move on.
'Talking to employers while anger or bitterness might leak out will sabotage your efforts.'3. You let one painful "no" lead you into a spiral of negativity
Resilience isn't something you have or don't have - it can be cultivated. Accept that rejection is part of the process and have support and strategies in place for bouncing back.
John says: 'Even in an upbeat market, job hunters will hear the word "no" far more often than they hear "yes". Your original question may be "Can I ask your advice?", "Can I have five minutes of your time?", "May I talk to you about what your organisation is doing", or "Please consider my CV for your advertised position". Every "no" has an impact.
'It's interesting how often people start to unravel the whole of their job-hunting strategy, trash their CV, and start talking about pitching for less interesting jobs, on the strength of one rejection. Sometimes they will do so simply because a decision maker is too busy to return their call, or because a recruitment consultant doesn't get back in touch.'4. You go for jobs you don't want – and feel bad when you don't get the
Going for jobs you don't want can undermine your positivity and confidence, yet it's surprising how many people fall into this trap.
John says: 'Some candidates play a game you might call "fishing for a no". For example, they apply for jobs for which they are poorly suited. They send in half-hearted job applications for jobs they don't really want. They apply for dull jobs they could do in their sleep and tell friends that they're applying "just for practice".
'Then they feel aggrieved that they aren't called for interview, and if they are, because they didn't get the job – most likely because they were over qualified or showed no enthusiasm.
'Going to an interview "for practice" is like taking a driving test knowing you are not ready – getting the bad news is going to have some kind of effect. It may be something you can brush off quickly, or may impact on your performance for days or weeks.'
5. You fire off 'wild shots' and feel swamped by rejection
If you don't have the skills and experience for a job but apply anyway, you're unlikely to get an interview. Send off lots of "wild shots" and you may feel swamped by rejection – or worse, wonder why you're not hearing back at all.
'It's pointless considering wild shots as failures,' says John. 'Concentrate on the results you get applying for jobs you want and might actually get.
'Random applications (for jobs that are a poor match for your experience) give you random results. You might think that playing a simple numbers game will get you results, but it doesn't. Yes, you have to reach out to a certain number of decision makers, but sending out hundreds of poorly targeted applications will damage your market reputation.'
6. You focus on what's broken and ignore what's working
Voicing all of the negatives – whether in your head or talking to others - won't help.
'Trainee pilots are taught to face emergencies by not putting their focus on what is broken, but on whatever is still working enough to get you safely on the ground,' says John.
'Looking at the downside of your job search will ultimately drag down your performance. Consider the results you are getting carefully. Where have you received genuine feedback?
'Keep your confidence up by putting on smart business clothes at least once a week and having face-to-face conversations, even if it's just with friends or colleagues.'Don't be over-influenced by views of the job market from friends and relatives – it's probably inaccurate. Spend time with positive-minded people who encourage you.'