Even without the negative messages in your mind (sometimes known as Stinkin’ Thinkin’), the constant rejection inherent in the job search can take its toll. Some of these negative messages could be so deeply ingrained in your thought process, you are likely unaware of them.
This article focuses on confronting these negative messages. It may be difficult and painful, but you can’t overcome these hindrances until you’re aware of them. It’s very common to have these negative thoughts without noticing them for what they are—destructive!
Step 1: Notice Your Negative Thoughts
During the course of a regular day in your job search, keep a pen and tablet handy and write down the thoughts that distress you. You might have some thoughts like this:
- “I’ll never find a position that will pay the amount I need!”
- “I don’t think I have the right education/certifications/experience for the position I want.”
- “I don’t feel worthy of the level of compensation that I should demand for my experience.”
- “I have less to offer than competing applicants or co-workers.
- When reading a job description: “They’ll never pick me if I apply for this!”
- When networking: “I don’t know what to say. They’re not going to like me!”
- When updating your resume: “I haven’t done enough for anyone to take me seriously!”
Negative feelings instead of statements may be more common for you. If you can’t think of a statement that is negative, write down the activities that cause you the greatest distress. Write down the general accompanying feelings to establish a pattern. For example—when talking on the phone, you might feel a lack of confidence. (If that is an issue for you, check out this article on Phone Power!)
Step 2: Discover Your Hindering Behaviors
It’s time to dig deeper. Once you are aware of the statements and activities that bring the most negative feelings, you will be able to identify behaviors that create and reinforce negative messages. The following are examples and are intended to stimulate your thought process to uncover any other negative behaviors that are holding you back. If anything on the list fits your issues, write it down along with any other issues you have.
- I don’t define and set goals (in general) because I’m afraid I won’t be able to meet the goals.
- I don’t know enough about the career market.
- I don’t take risks.
- I dusted off my old resume and added the newest job because I don’t want to do all the introspective work involved with the career search.
- I permit others to devalue me and put me down.
- I haven’t been adding to my skills and education/experience.
- I downplay my own skills, talents and abilities.
- I’m not assertive about meeting my needs and getting what I want out of life.
- I try too hard to please others in order to be accepted.
- I get upset by what I assume others think of me.
- I haven’t made an effort to fit in with people at work.
- I find it difficult to say “no.”
- I haven’t worked on personal growth to avoid the discomfort of facing my fears.
- My vocabulary/speaking skills are inadequate and are holding me back.
- Under stress, I can be over-reactive.
Step 3: Creating a Realistic Plan to Overcome your Negative Thoughts and Behaviors
Now that you have a list of negative thoughts and negative behaviors, it’s time to make a plan to overcome them. Start thinking about why you have these thoughts or follow these behavior patterns. Have any of them helped you in your career path? If not, it’s time to change!
Focus on what you can change about each item on the list.
For example, if you’re worried about your level of education or experience, research what education or experience is most common among those who are successful in the position you desire. If you need additional education or experience, start working on either obtaining it, or re-examine your career aspirations. It’s possible that the position you seek is not a proper fit. Trying to get a job for which you are unqualified or unsuited often causes stress and negative thoughts; consequently, your search will be unproductive.
Other behaviors create numerous problems. Another example: “I haven’t made an effort to fit in with people at work.” If you aren’t a good fit, common problems include not getting promoted and not getting good referrals during your job search. It’s also possible that you aren’t a good match for your position or company. Your new search should focus on finding a more suitable environment for your needs. When you’re a good fit, your work will be easier; you will experience less conflict, and feel greater confidence in your work. You will also experience less fear of rejection among your peers.
The good news is that it’s not too late. As shown in the previous examples, you can address these negative thoughts and behaviors.
For personalized help with these issues and more, contact CrossRoads at 317-842-8881.