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Overcoming Fear During the Job Search

Whether you’re employed and looking for new opportunities or have been laid off, you may be anxious and fearful about your next steps. Confronting the unknown during a job search can be a destabilizing experience. It may help to know that you’re not alone, and that you’ve nothing to be worried or ashamed about. We’ve all been out of work at one time or another, and the majority of us find a job search really stressful.  

My Story  

A few short years ago, I weathered two unexpected layoffs. One of the roles involved a long distance move, that took place only one year before I was downsized. It was nerve-wracking, and the ensuing job search was complicated. Having had that experience, I’m empathetic to the pressure candidates face but I also know you can get to the other side of it. If you’re struggling to overcome fear during your job search, you can adjust your thinking, and make more confident decisions throughout the process. 

Get Clarity  

For starters, it’s incredibly important that you realize your search won’t be effective if you’re making emotionally based decisions. What you’re feeling and what is actually happening are often two different things. Remind yourself that stress and fear aren’t actual external forces that are trying to bring you down. 

One way to move beyond your discomfort, is to first examine where it’s coming from. Financial uncertainty, rejection, inadequacy or imposter syndrome, are all surprisingly common fears, especially among high level candidates. It’s critical that you look at any past experiences that may be influencing the way you feel and understand that your current situation is likely different.  

One of the most painful scenarios is when you feel financially burdened by a job loss. There’s a lot of dread involved when you believe that you have to find work quickly. Despite the financial pressure, try not to fall into this trap. You’re still in a position to take some time to find the right role for the right organization.  

  • Create a timetable that allows for breathing room.  
  • Focus on making the best decisions possible.  
  • Approach your search logically.  
  • Make sure that your search methods are consistent.  
  • Remind yourself that you’re not looking for compensation alone.  
  • Remember that a good fit won’t be found if your preset is panic.  
  • Refuse to let fear drive you toward the first job that presents itself. 

Take Inventory of Your Accomplishments  

When you read a job description, it’s normal to first feel overwhelmed by its expectations. Fight that reaction by making a list of your accomplishments, especially where you’ve added value on-the-job. As you begin to update your resume, incorporate your successes where appropriate. By acknowledging your contributions, you’ll not only give yourself a much-needed lift, you’ll be letting employers know what your special sauce is.  

Your career goals will help lead you in the right direction as well. Concentrate on those skill sets and aptitudes that employers in your field consider high value. Since it’s likely you already have some of this experience — make sure that it’s emphasized on your resume. 

Focus Your Efforts  

Carefully review and update your LinkedIn page, as well as any other professional sites that you’re currently using, and add your proficiencies and contributions. Confirm that the information is uniform everywhere your work is profiled.  

Be judicious in your applications. It will take some of the pressure off. Remember that just because something sounds like a good role, doesn’t mean it’s the right role for you. Carefully consider which environments would best match your personality and needs, and where in your talents would be best suited. By drilling down your search, you’ll find yourself targeting where you want to be going forward, versus where you’ve been so far.  

After you’ve fine tuned your credentials, reach out with confidence. Get in touch with your contact list, and find those colleagues, friends, and acquaintances, who are working in or around your industry. The more certain and specific you are about where you want to be and what you’re able to offer, the greater the probability that one of those contacts will come through with valuable information, including other connections, that will get you closer to your goal. 

Finally, give yourself the gift of knowing that you’re not only highly qualified, you also have a great deal to offer.  

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