Job Search – When fear enables your failure

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Mar 30

I’m not a psychologist, but there are observations that need making when it comes to your job search. These are tough because human nature is human nature. But the deal is this: in order to have a successful job search, you must overcome three fears that affect us all.

Afraid to reach out to your network for your job search

Who is our business network? Why, people we know. If you are out looking for work, do you like talking to people and asking if they know of available jobs out there? Not usually. There is too much of some instinct that says if we ask other people for help we are somehow weak. Plus, after a layoff, your ego takes a hit. No matter how much you were expecting the layoff or how well prepared, you still take a hit from “the company doesn’t value me (or my work).”

Yet, reaching out to your business network is critical to finding new jobs. Many would say it is the single most important thing you can do to find your next job — whether inside your current company or a new one.

Afraid to ask for help from experts

I provide career coaching for people on the job or looking for jobs. Yet, for a few people I know, I’ve offered to provide some of my services for free. Even when someone offered to pay me, I said no, just send me the stuff to review and I’ll do it.

But they didn’t. I offered, they agreed, and they didn’t follow through. This isn’t meant to condemn them; on the contrary, it shows how difficult it is to accept help from someone they know even though they understand that I get more than the average person about careers, jobs, interviews, resumes and making it all work. They are afraid. Afraid they don’t look good when they think they are, afraid of the constructive criticism that comes with coaching and afraid that maybe they aren’t that ready for a job search and don’t want to admit it.

Yet, one other person accepted the advice and has a brand spanking new resume, plenty of interview tips and a new outlook on what it takes to find a job. This person didn’t let her fear get in the way of finding a new job; she pushed through it.

Afraid to do the work to find a new job

Every coach will tell you to do the work to find the job. Intellectually, that is easy to understand. In practice, it doesn’t happen. People will call them out and say they are lazy, or don’t want to do the work or blame them, the victim. There is something much simpler, though, about the willingness to do the work. It is this: what if I do all the work and then I run out of all of the options without a job? What if I contact everyone in my network and no one knows of available positions? What if I register on all the job boards and search far and wide and I get no interviews? What if I do that day in and day out and nothing happens?

People see desperation a mile (or kilometer) away. They end up not doing the work because if the work gets them to the end with nothing to show for it, they face a completely different set of circumstances they are not prepared to deal with.

Facing job search fears is tough

The thing about being afraid — and I’ve been there — is not that you are afraid. Everyone is afraid. The key is to not let the fear stop you from continuing to do the work. From stopping you in your job search tracks. You need to work through the strong emotions that want to keep you from taking actions to make your life better.

The sooner we can acknowledge this, the sooner we can get to work finding our next gig.

How do you face your job search fears?

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.

  • Pras says:

    There is something much simpler, though, about the willingness to do the work. It is this: what if I do all the work and then I run out of all of the options without a job? What if I contact everyone in my network and no one knows of available positions? What if I register on all the job boards and search far and wide and I get no interviews? What if I do that day in and day out and nothing happens?

  • Pras says:

    “There is something much simpler, though, about the willingness to do the work. It is this: what if I do all the work and then I run out of all of the options without a job? What if I contact everyone in my network and no one knows of available positions? What if I register on all the job boards and search far and wide and I get no interviews? What if I do that day in and day out and nothing happens?”

    This explanation hits the nail on a lot of fears. What If I do all this work with no reward. Its the same fear that salespeople have. What If I do all this prospecting and selling and nobody buys.
    I think the answer is to take pride in the process of doing all the work for the job search and not be so goal and outcome oriented. Be process oriented. The process leads to results. And if you do this work you at least know you've taken it as far as you can.

    A question I have is what are some ways for someone to get over the fear of doing a lot of work that leads to no results???

  • I think the way you can do that, Pras, is to take your own good advice here: be process oriented. Then set process goals and have the accomplishments come from hitting those results.

    The classic sales example is not to get X dollars in sales; that's too hard. But know what you need to do in the process that will result in a sale: how many appointments, how many calls, how many proposals, etc.

    Break that down by day or week, tally up the results and you will have accomplishment around the fact that you are doing the right stuff — and feedback on how all of it is working.

    For finding a job, some process goals could be: updating your resume every day on job boards. Making two phone calls a day to your network to update people on where you are in your job search. Submitting a tweaked resume to match up with the job description for a new position every business day.

    Then, you can at least get some satisfaction that you are consistently doing the right stuff. Based on the feedback/results you get, you can then do more of what is working and less of what is not working.

    But it is still a tough fear to overcome…

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