Thursday, May 5, 2011

How to Build Your Job-Search Confidence

By Curt Rosengren

There’s nothing like a brutal job search to leave your self-confidence feeling bruised and beaten. And yet self-confidence is precisely what you need to make the most of your search. If you’re not careful, it can become a downwardly spiraling vicious circle.

So what to do? Here are several ideas to help you feed your confidence in challenging times:
Look in the archives
When your confidence starts to ebb in your job search, it’s probably not about reality. It’s about the lens through which you’re looking at reality. That lens is a little bit like looking through a telescope the wrong way, creating a narrowly focused tunnel vision. That tunnel vision focuses on the current facts, rather than the whole picture. And those current facts (I haven’t found a job, and I’ve been trying for X amount of time) can spiral into a projected story (I can’t find a job, so maybe there’s something wrong with me).

One way to expand your perspective to a more whole-picture view is to dig into the archives. The tunnel vision typically only lets you see what’s not working, not what gifts, skills, and abilities you have to offer. So shift your focus from the present to the past and start to explore your successes, the things you have done well, things that people have praised your for, etc. Start a laundry list of examples that counter that voice of self-doubt that erodes your confidence.

But don’t just write them down and forget them. Focus on them. Relive the experiences. Use each of them as a starting point to explore why you were so good at that. The more real you can make them for yourself, the better they will counter that self-doubt.

Seek out reinforcement
One way to make the positive story about yourself more real is to get out of your own brain and ask others. Reach out to people you have worked with in the past and people who know you well. Tell them that you are reaching back into the archives to look at what you do well, and ask them for their perspective. Ask them what stands out to them. See if they have specific examples that come to mind.
The more external reinforcement you can get, the easier it is to override that internal critic and the self-doubt it feeds.

Keep it current
Many years ago before I discovered my Passion Catalyst work, I wound up in a protracted job search with no end in sight. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my confidence in my abilities had started to erode. At one point I volunteered to do a project using my professional skills (at the time I was a marketing guy) for a non-profit. As I dived into it, the professional muscle-memory came flooding back. “Oh yeah! I’m actually really good at this, aren’t I?”

When you don’t use your skills for an extended period of time, your memory of them starts to atrophy. Finding ways to keep using them, whether you’re paid for it or not, can help keep the self-doubt at bay.

Shift your attention

There’s nothing like ruminating on what’s wrong to plunge you further into the abyss. So don’t. Instead, make a conscious effort to focus on the positive. Start a gratitude journal (you can use these 15 questions to prompt your exploration). If you like the idea and want to expand it, try writing a positive journal.
Go on a news fast. You don’t need the non-stop flow of toxicity into your brain. Read uplifting and inspiring books. Watch inspiring movies. Ask friends and colleagues what they feel good about. Make a habit of looking for positive things to notice as you go through your days.

More Tips and Complete USNews Article

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