How to beat the job search sabotage: negative stinking thinking

This past week I participated in four different speeches and seminars.  During the question-and-answer portion of these events, I had separate questions that went something like this:

Job Seeker: “I’m having a hard time finding a job. Because I’m older, my computer skills aren’t up to date and employers won’t consider hiring me because of it.”Me: “Really?  Have you heard that in job interviews?  Did someone tell you that?  Are

you applying for jobs that require high levels of computers skills?”Job Seeker:  “No, I wasn’t told that, but I just know that’s the reason.”

Another conversation started like this:

Job seeker: “Andrew, I’ve been with a company for 10 years and have been promoted three separate times.  I’m now wanting to find a new job, but am having a hard time because employers think that I’ve been in one job for too long.”Me:  “Really?  Have you heard from employers that they consider loyalty and being promoted three times a negative thing?”

Job seeker:  “No, but I’m afraid that since I’ve been with only one company, I don’t have enough experience.”

And finally a young graduate student who is currently working said to me:

Grad student: “Andrew, I’m a graphic designer and am really good at what I do, but employers think that I need more technical skills and more computer programming experience.”Me:  “Really?  Has someone told you this?

Grad student: “No, but I know it’s true.  And I’m a fast learner if only they help me pay to learn those new skills.”

I call these out because the fact is, we can ALL recognize ourselves to some degree in these conversations.

Negative self-talk, or what I call ‘stinking thinking’ is probably the most common way we sabotage our job search, our goals, our ambitions; and quite frankly, it stops us from taking risks and from ultimately being successful in life.  It comes in different forms.  We secretly tell ourselves “we’re not good enough,”  or “I’ll be found out…I’m a phony, someone’s going to figure out I’m not really qualified,” or “I shouldn’t apply for that job/promotion, they’ll never accept me.”

It’s particularly difficult to avoid these little gremlins from invading your thoughts if you haven’t developed a singular and rock solid focus that aligns your greatest strengths with the goal at hand – in a job seeker’s case – the type of job and career that makes the most sense.

I empathize with job seekers.

It’s hard – almost impossible – to avoid rejection when you are looking for a job.  It’s tough putting your blood, sweat and tears into a resume and cover letter applying for a position that seems perfect and then… you don’t hear back from the employer.  It’s even more difficult if you’ve reached the final stage of a lengthy interview process… and then found out you didn’t get the job.

Both of these situations will naturally lead you to polluting your mind with made-up reasons trying to figure out why you were rejected.  And usually the bogus reasons you come up with lead to these overall negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself which include a loss of self-esteem and confidence.  Before you know it, your head is polluted with ‘stinking thinking’ and you now have more reasons to explain why you AREN’T getting hired instead of the confident reasons why you SHOULD be getting hired.

The most critical habit of successful job seekers is that they put rejection in context of the entire job search.  Much like a salesperson, who fully recognizes that every prospect is not going to lead to a sale – a successful job seeker knows every resume/interview is not going to lead to a job offer.  However, a successful job seeker continues to focus on the confidence of their core brand – their strengths, background, experience, expertise – and regularly tailor and realign their pitch to the prospective employer based on the job posting.

Rejection, though difficult, won’t knock them off the tracks.  They might modify their resumes a bit to connect their specific experiences with the job posting, but at their core, they have a rock solid confidence in what they have to offer and more importantly, in the type of position that they want to find. They can describe to anyone who asks, in passionate and meaningful ways, the skills and the experience they have to offer and most importantly they can convincingly connect these strengths and skills to the job they are applying.

Never abandon who you truly are or convince yourself through negative self-talk that you are too old, too young, too inexperienced, or overqualified.  Focus on your strengths, your experiences, your background and expertise and convincingly tie these together into a red-hot fireball of confidence that comes alive in every touch point of your job search.

The bottom line is this:  If you believe and have confidence in your strengths, it is a lot easier to convince others to believe in you.

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