Mental negativity can hold you back from securing the job search and opportunity you want.
It’s stressful enough trying to find and land a new job. But did you know that the way you think about your challenges can affect the success (or failure) of your job search? If you let negative thought patterns become habitual without challenging them, it may become the reason why you don’t get offered the opportunity you wanted and someone else does.
This isn’t to suggest that you view everything through rose-colored glasses or refuse to recognize that looking for work can produce anxiety. But if you’re approaching every job application and interview with a feeling of dread or panic, you can sabotage your best efforts, no matter how talented you are and what a perfect fit you might be for the role.
Before you find yourself in front of a hiring committee, take the time to review the following three typical types of toxic mental habits. Then review the advice provided under each negative thinking pattern and take steps today to view things from a different perspective before your attitude hurts your career prospects.
Undervaluing your strengths.
In a job market that seems more and more competitive, one thing that separates candidates from the noise is their confidence level. If you undervalue what you bring to the table, why would a recruiter or hiring manager value it? And while you may think that no one knows how you feel about your value but you, chances are this is not true. Whether you’re on a phone interview or trying to sell yourself in front of a full panel of managers, small cues in how you project your voice and how you use body language can tip off decision-makers as to your sense of inner worth.
If your confidence going into your job search or a specific interview is not where it should be, you can work on this before it trips you up. Your goal is to remind yourself of all of the positive qualities, traits and skills you bring to the table, so that these are top of mind when answering questions, not poor habitual thought patterns. An easy way to do this is to create a file that contains as many of your career highlights to date that you can think of. Some good places to start might be:
- Reviewing past recommendations and endorsements written by former supervisors and peers
- Rereading the “accomplishments” section on your resume and highlighting those on a copy that you can look at often
- Asking people you trust – perhaps a mentor or other colleague – what they feel are your greatest professional strengths
Becoming hyper-focused on problems.
If you want to find something that’s wrong with a given situation, it’s usually not that difficult to do. Perhaps you don’t feel that your recruiter is opening doors to the companies you really want to work for, or you haven’t heard back after applying for a position through a corporate website. Maybe you’re having trouble mentally letting go of something bad that happened in your last job. Whatever it is, if you feel like your mind has become a magnet for the negative, it’s time to clear it before you proceed with your job search. This is important since you don’t want to reveal a tendency for problems rather than solutions during your interactions with potential employers.
The key to overcoming this type of worst-case scenario mindset is first to recognize that you’re plagued by it. Once you’re able to see that your mental filter lacks a predilection for the positive, you can start to consciously replace the unwanted thoughts with more encouraging ones. A good strategy here is to spend some time running practice interviews, with a friend or family member serving as your interviewer. See what comes to mind first as you prepare to answer various questions, particularly those involving failure or weaknesses. Instead of fixating on past disappointments in a way that waves a red flag to hiring teams, intentionally try to elevate your responses to leave a better first impression.
Setting your expectations too high.
Are you pressuring yourself too much about what you hope to achieve – and how quickly you want to achieve it – while trying to land a job? Placing yourself under an extreme level of self-pressure to do it all perfectly and not make mistakes can hurt your interview performance more than taking a gentler approach.
To avoid this type of toxic thinking, make the effort to find small victories even in events that ultimately didn’t work out. For example, if you made it through the phone screen and first interview but didn’t get offered the job, pat yourself on the back for having made it through the first round and resolve to keep trying with renewed determination. Sooner or later, your positive mental habits just might help you land an amazing opportunity.