The Mental Game of the Job Search

No matter how good your job search strategy, there’s always going to be failure and rejection.  It’s inevitable.  In any job search, you just can’t get to that glorious “Yes, you’re hired” without lots of “No, we’re not interested” responses.

For that reason it’s crucial that you get realistic about the process of getting a job and set the right mindset to handle setbacks.  Without the ability to persevere, you won’t be able to power through the challenge inherent in the process of landing your dream job.  Don’t fret though, we have some practical thoughts on how to develop the growth mindset for not only your job search but also for your career and personal life:

#1: Embrace the Challenge of a Job Search

The average time it takes to land a new job is 6-weeks; add several weeks to that figure for more specialized work or more senior positions like Director or VP.  There’s a lot to do when trying to land your next job, from research, networking, interviews, and a lot of soul-searching.  Don’t shortcut any of these items in the hopes that the pain and frustration of looking for a job will go away.  Have some faith that if you can commit to approaching this journey with an inspired mindset, hard work, and commitment, it’s impossible not to be successful.

#2: Remember That Finding a Job is a Numbers Game

It’s easy to romanticize one particular job opportunity as “the one”.  This happens often when you have one process going and all your eggs are in one basket.  Nothing feels worse than engaging in one process, and then finding out that company isn’t interested in you.  You will constantly feel like you are starting from scratch.  You should definitely be excited to apply to your dream company – particularly if you have some connections there, but realize that your burning desires and the company’s pressing needs don’t always align.  Don’t take it personally but it’s a good reminder to have a few processes going at once. Odds are they all move at different paces so you won’t have to start from scratch if one particular door closes.

#3 Persist in the Face of Setbacks and Learn from Them

Bottom-line, it’s easy to get caught up when you get rejected especially when you are deep into an interview process.  It’s ok to feel bad about these scenarios (we’re all human after all) but only to a point because then it becomes self-defeating.  Make sure that you are able to pull the plane that’s your emotional well-being up and course correct as needed.  

Just accept that things won’t always  go your way and that this has no reflection on you as a person. Sometimes companies are looking for a specialized skill-set or the job opening gets postponed.  Don’t shy away from asking difficult questions to the company as well.

Try and get candid feedback as to why they passed on your candidacy. While rare, there might be some valuable feedback that you can use for your next interview.  

Remind yourself that you’ll always have to get through a certain number of failures before getting to success in your job search.  Think of the classic Winston Churchill saying: “When going through hell, keep going!”

#4: Stay Positive!

While this is often easier said than done; we have some practical thoughts on how to accomplish this.  It’s easy to forget about all the good things that have happened in a job search such as you making it to the case round of interviews or the meeting with the company founder.  

Make sure that you write these wins down in a journal that documents your successes and lessons learned as you go through this journey.  It will come in very handy when you feel stagnant or when you go through the job search process again.  

Try to remember that big successes are nothing more than the product of many smaller successes added together!

#5: Find Lessons and Inspiration in the Success of Others

This might be the most difficult for you as most people are not taught to think/feel this way.  However, here’s a quote that really embodies the mindset: “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

Remember, you are just starting your journey and there’s no need to envy your peers that are in positions that you are seeking.  

What if you stopped the comparison game altogether?  What if the success of others had nothing to do with us, and our own success had nothing to do with anyone else?  Why do we need to waste so much of our precious time competing with the people around us and focusing on how we “measure up” to them?  

Remember, there are lessons to be learned but to get them takes some humility to ask.

Use these strategies to create the mindset that you need to persevere during your job search for the best outcome.  Let us know if you have any questions.