I’ll get right to it; the top 3 reasons why job seekers struggle with their job search are:
1. How you talk to yourself.
The most important factor predicting success isn’t your situation but what you tell yourself about it.
Your mind never stops talking to you. Your internal dialogue (a.k.a. narratives) determines your actions, beliefs, values, and moods. If you tell yourself, “Hiring managers won’t hire me because I’m overqualified and they think I won’t stay long,” you aren’t getting to the actual “whys” of why you’re not getting interviews. Instead, you’re expressing the beliefs that absolve you from being responsible for your actions. It’s easier to blame being overqualified than considering your LinkedIn profile, resume, interview skills, or lack of professional network as possible reasons why you’re not getting hired.
Say to yourself: “I have lots of qualifications and experience. It’s just a matter of finding an employer who views my qualifications as an asset, not a liability. There’s an employer out there who’ll hire me!”
Your mental narratives can inspire you or deplete you. A slight shift in your mindset can spark a cascade of changes so profound that you’ll be speechless. As a job seeker, firmly believe, “What you believe, you’ll achieve.”
2. Your expectations.
Having realistic expectations is the key to happiness. This is especially true when job hunting. Your expectations determine your attitude. You tend to have a positive attitude when your expectations are met or exceeded. The reverse is also true: You tend to have a less-than-stellar attitude when your expectations aren’t being met.
Often, I see job seekers attempting to duplicate their previous position, thus prolonging their job search. 15 years ago, you won the job search lottery. In your last job, you earned a base salary of $110K, plus an annual $20K bonus, full medical coverage, stock options, 3 weeks of paid vacation time, and 10 sick days. Unfortunately, you were downsized and therefore forced to move on.
Due to my pragmatic nature, I assume your goal is to get back to work ASAP. You don’t want to spend all your savings or go into deeper debt during your job search. The shorter your job search, the better; therefore, look for low-hanging fruits. $75K jobs are much easier to land than $110K jobs. (You don’t need to keep a $75K job forever, right now, all you need is income.)
Before beginning your job search, consider the compensation you require to cover your needs (not your wants). By eliminating or curtailing your “wants spending,” you’ll be able to live on much less.
Ask yourself if maintaining the lifestyle you’ve created is stressing you out. Is the effort to hold on to your lifestyle worth it? Does your lifestyle make you happy or cause anxiety? Do the benefits of climbing the corporate ladder outweigh the mental fatigue caused by constantly navigating office politics and working long hours to appear like a “team player”? Can you imagine living a simpler lifestyle, thus needing less money, making you calmer and happier?
A short as possible successful job search requires having realistic expectations—realizing there’s fierce competition for the few “desirable jobs.”
3. Not looking for your tribe.
Here’s my best job search advice: Don’t look for a job; look for where you belong. Look for your tribe!
I know an ex-midlevel marketing executive and avid golfer who worked for a large global consumer goods company. He was aiming to become the next regional vice president. Thus, he put up with the travelling, backstabbing office politics, and dealing with department heads who had agendas of their own. A shuffle in the leadership led to a new boss. Eight months later, at 49, he was shown the door. More than once, he told me that golf kept him sane. Today he manages a local Golf Town store, says he’s happier, and his golf game has improved.
Is he making as much money as he used to? No, but he’s in a better place than before. Isn’t that worth something? I’ve experienced working for “the money” versus working where “I belong.” Working where I belong is much more satisfying and better for my well-being than working for money and being miserable.
Consider what you’re passionate about. Which values matter to you most? What skills do you enjoy using? Look for companies where you’ll be a natural fit.
Making finding where you belong a priority throughout your job search is the best compass you can use.
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at [email protected].