Today, I spoke to three people who are getting exhausted by their job search.
Two are on the East Coast, one on the West Coast. All are very good at what they do, and have marketable skills. Well-spoken, articulate and bright, these people (one a man, two are women) are experienced, skilled, and effective. They all have gone on many interviews – first, second, third and more. Yet many months later, none have gotten an offer.
Understandably, they are discouraged. It is really hard for them to have confidence that they will eventually find a job.
I remember my 2 year long job search. It was an emotional roller coaster. I’d apply for a really interesting job, get an interview, and then not hear anything. Big high and big crash. Eventually, I couldn’t sustain that level of emotion, and things evened out. I wouldn’t get so high nor would I go so low. I arrived at a place of putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next right thing that came along. I also got to the point of accepting that eventually I would find something. It was inevitable, just not in my time frame.
One person is reading about what he’s doing wrong in his search. Another is trying to figure out what she is doing wrong. And the third doubts her ability to ever land something.
My take is that they are doing everything pretty much right. Sure, there’s some fine-tuning they can do – changes in sentence structure in followup letters, more enthusiasm for the company, talking more about how they can add value to the company. But basically, they are doing everything they can do.
Why are they not landing a job? Somehow they have not found the “right fit.” I know that sounds easy to say, and just a bit pat.
When I talk to each of them, they admit that the jobs were not the right fit for them. They had doubts about each position – some substantive and real (e.g. compensation, role or company culture not matching their ‘must haves’), and others more nebulous (e.g. everyone is much younger/older than me, the position isn’t well-enough defined).
Perhaps they need to ignore those doubts. Perhaps they need to “act as if” they are completely enthusiastic. Doubts have a way of seeping into conversations and making employers doubtful about the candidate. I learned to be positive and enthusiastic throughout the interview process. I still didn’t get offers, more’s the pity, yet I felt better about myself and was better able to say “it wasn’t the right fit” because I knew I’d done all I could do.
Perhaps they need to have more confidence. It’s very hard to have confidence in yourself when you keep getting rejections. I used to say “how can they expect me to put my best foot forward when I feel terrible about myself and my job?” Yet it is confidence in one’s ability to do the job that often convinces employers to pick you. My 2 year job search came to an end when I went to a second interview – months after the first one – and walked in the room thinking “they want to hire someone, they need to hire someone. Why not me? I can do everything they want, whether they think so or not. I know I can.” And I maintained that confidence throughout the interview and the rest of the process – that resulted in my getting an offer. At last! And just in the nick of time, too.
Unquestionably, they need to keep going, and leave no stone unturned in the search.
I encourage them to dig deep for confidence, based on what they’ve accomplished and know they can do. Ignore the voices in their heads that say “you can’t do this” or “you won’t like this” or “who do you think you are?” – all those negative, undermining voices that leave one feeling despair, anxiety, and fear. Those voices aren’t telling the truth. The truth is these three people and all of you have terrific abilities. The truth is that you will find the right fit. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.
And stop listening to people who are less than supportive (“you STILL don’t have a job?”) or anxious for you (“have you tried this? or this? or this?” – gee, no, that never occurred to me.) Go where it’s warm, where people encourage and support you and remind you of how good you really are.
Most of all, believe that it is inevitable for you to find the right position. I did, and so have many other people.
How do you sustain yourself during a long job search?