How to Keep Up Your Self-Esteem While Job Searching
The job market may be tight, but you can be a winner.
-Dr. Anne K. Gross
You buy a new suit. You sprinkle your resume with flavorful verbs. You wake up every morning with a renewed sense of optimism. But the phone never rings, the suit stays hanging in your closet, and you end each day with a feeling of failure. You’re looking for a job, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t keep up your sense of self-esteem.
In search of help, you Google self-esteem and job search. Article after article admonishes you to think positive thoughts, to “surround yourself with positive people.” Expert after expert warns you that the worst thing you can do is let your positivity wane, for nothing decreases your possibility of success more than a deflated self-image. You now feel worse, for not only do you blame yourself for not landing that perfect position, but you add insult to injury by berating yourself for feeling down.
Don’t worry; you are not alone. Most of us have difficulty maintaining a cheery attitude, especially in this competitive market. (A word of advice: don’t believe those who categorically say otherwise.) So what are you supposed to do? Read on for five easy-to-use tips for maintaining your self-esteem while pounding the pavement for that perfect job.
Tip # 1: Don’t blame yourself
As long as you are working consistently to find employment, don’t fall into the trap that if you’re not successful, you have only yourself to blame. People are quick to tell us that if we just tried hard enough, we could achieve anything, but that is not always true. If their words of encouragement aren’t helping you, let them know what you need most from them. Perhaps you want them to understand how hard you are working, that the best way for you to deal with your frustration is to let it out from time to time, and you need for them to believe in you, that your inability to land a job doesn’t mean that you don’t have valuable skills.
Tip # 2: Taking a realistic approach can help too
It’s hard to keep up your positive feelings when you apply for your dream job, only to find out that you are competing with over a hundred other qualified applicants. Being positive seems unrealistic, so why not acknowledge that your chances of landing the job are small. Such an attitude can help you let go of your anxiety and excessive ruminations, allowing you to take some risks. For example, a friend of mine, who felt she had nothing to lose by acting outside of the box, included in her application a mock newspaper article she had crafted, detailing her future accomplishments should she land the job. And they hired her.
Tip #3: Surround yourself with others in your predicament
Nothing helps you feel like you’re not alone than by being around other people who are struggling with the same issues. Meeting regularly with others will not only help you increase your network (more on that later), but lend reassurance that there is nothing wrong with you, and that you are not to blame for your difficulties.
Tip # 4: Create job searching experiences that boost your self-esteem
Don’t just rely on internet searches and job postings to find a job. Instead, ask everybody you know, even if they are in a slightly different line of work, to meet with you. The purpose is not to ask them for a job, but to ask them what their company does, what their responsibilities are, and the skills that helped land them their position. Then segue into talking about yourself. You’d be surprised how many people might know of somebody who you could talk to, either in their company or another organization. And even if you don’t come away with any leads, practicing talking about yourself to others, and getting their feedback, increases your self-esteem and prepares you for your “real” job interviews. Moreover, research shows that approximately 70% of jobs come from networking, as opposed to advertised listings.
Be sure to write your friend a thank you note that day. And check to see if you can add them to your network on LinkedIn, a very useful tool in finding a job. Which leads me to the next point. . .
Tip # 5: Be proactive.
Rather than passively wait for others to respond to you, research organizations to find ones that work for you. Then find out who in that company has the authority to hire you. Although it is unlikely that you know that person, chances are someone in your network might. Search for the person’s profile on LinkedIn, and see which of your contacts are connected to her. Armed with that information, you can ask your contact for an introduction.
Anne K. Gross, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who writes regularly for BettyConfidential on relationships and personal growth. To learn more about her, please visit her website.