Belief in their career goals can help jobseekers get through tough times
Cultivating attributes such as confidence and curiosity can give clients a boost in reaching their dreams
We are supporting our clients through some tough times. But while we’ve never dealt with a pandemic, we have dealt with recessions.
One constant that always exists when we have career goals and dreams? We must believe in our ability to succeed in order to make them happen.
I know this because during the last recession I was laid off. I was scared, but I was more excited – even though I kept hearing that this was the worst recession since the Great Depression, that it would take me up to a year to find a new job, that as a recruiter it was all but hopeless.
I never believed any of it. I set a goal of finding a job in six weeks – a crazy, big and impossible goal that I believed in. This belief empowered me to think outside of the box and do the work that led to not just one job offer, but two, in six weeks.
In order to shift that belief from impossible to possible and, finally, inevitability, there are some key attributes that we and our clients need to develop.
The foundation of belief is confidence. That is, confidence in your skills and in your ability to showcase them. A great place to start is to complete a self-appreciation exercise; recognizing and being thankful for our own abilities is key. During my own search, I made sure to be kind to myself, purposely thinking that I was capable, plus being consistent in my day-to-day actions. These are tools that help create and build confidence.
“I set a goal of finding a job in six weeks – a crazy, big and impossible goal that I believed in.”
For me this meant fully knowing and understanding my value as a recruiter. I reviewed my previous performance reviews, the feedback I got from hiring managers and candidates to remind myself that I was a great recruiter who organizations would benefit from having on their team. I reflected on my accomplishments and the aspects of the job that I loved. This meant that my resume was focused on my sought-after skills and qualities, my differentiating factors, and was filled with words that enhanced my profile. It was a document I was confident stood out from the crowd as it wasn’t boring or a mundane rehashing of my job as a recruiter. I was able to sell myself so powerfully because I was confident.
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Job searches are hard. We see it all the time with our clients: things stop working and they get frustrated, anxious or feel hopeless. They begin avoiding the job search by cleaning the house, watching TV or scrolling Indeed constantly (but taking no action).
Avoidance is normal, but it doesn’t lead to belief. We need to become more mindful of when we do it, and ask ourselves (or our clients) what we are avoiding. We can then reframe the search to create the feeling of curiosity.
Curiosity leads to critical thinking. It sets the stage for evaluating our mindset, strategy and actions so that we can make changes and get results. For me, that meant not sticking with the things that were supposed to work, but didn’t.
Intentional management of time
A prominent theory is that you need to treat your job search as a full-time job. In my experience, that doesn’t work. Since job searches are filled with so much rejection, it’s hard to believe in a process when the majority of our time is devoted to something that doesn’t give us much back. The adage that nothing changes if nothing changes holds true to job searches. If you are hyperactive on LinkedIn or Indeed, it can come across as desperate. Instead of showing people the benefit we bring, we start to convince them that they need to hire us. Sometimes, this leads to us digging in our heels, certain that our actions will eventually yield the result we want. This leads to a one-note strategy and a mindset that isn’t ideal to get that offer.
I didn’t treat my job search as a full-time job. Instead, I tried to have fun. Each day, I intentionally did something I enjoyed without guilt.
I created rules to keep up my positive mindset, such only going on job boards at my favourite place (the library), and only doing two or three days a week of job board searching. This meant that each morning when I thought “How am I going to find a job today?” I had to think outside the job board box.
With clients, I create very specific and intentional plans. I help them optimize their job search time so that no matter their stress or urgency to find a new job, they see the results of their plans while also taking time to do self-care.
Having confidence in myself, remaining curious and thinking outside of the box built my belief in my audacious goal. This meant that my job search strategy was multifaceted. It involved networking, meeting new people, job boards and job fairs. Right now, resourcefulness is even more vital. It means we need to be innovative in terms of the networking we are doing (taking it virtual or creating a social media strategy). This is an opportunity to differentiate ourselves by creating a video resume, a portfolio or a series of articles showcasing our knowledge and experience.
When we don’t believe in our ability to succeed, we edit ourselves. We don’t go all in. It isn’t necessarily our fault; our brains are wired to avoid failure at all costs (a cognitive bias called Loss Aversion). If we think failure is inevitable, we make it so, because we don’t do all the things we need to do to succeed.
Since I believed that getting a job in six weeks was inevitable, I essentially tricked my brain that failure wasn’t going to happen. That made it much easier to put myself out there and to continually think of all the ways in which I could find that job.
A lot happened to me during that six weeks. I blended my finger with a hand-mixer. My husband’s grandmother passed away. I got hit by a car while riding my bike. It was intense. My belief wavered, but I was persistent in reminding myself that I was capable.
Instead of using those events as excuses to give up or that I was cursed, I used them to support my belief; obviously the universe was trying to tell me that I needed to get a job ASAP, as I wasn’t meant to not be working.
You may think that I’m some sort of unicorn, born with high confidence and super job searching skills. However, this didn’t come easily or naturally. I worked on my belief daily. I saw the benefit of this practice and have therefore built the foundation of how I work with clients on the tenet of mindset and belief work.
Putting it into practice
The exercise you and your clients can use to develop self-belief is deceivingly simple.
- Every day, on a scale, ask yourself “How committed am I to my job search/career goal?” Write down the first number that pops into your head; there’s no right or wrong answer.
- Ask yourself: “What am I thinking that makes me write that number?” Write down all the thoughts that pop up. For example, if you are a 2/10, those thoughts could be: “I have no interviews,” “I haven’t heard any feedback.” Or if you are at a 9/10, they could be: “I have a final interview today.”
- Now ask yourself, “What could I be thinking that would get me to a 10/10?” Write down all those thoughts. For instance, “My perfect job could be posted today” or “I’m investing my time in meeting new people.”
- Once you are at 10/10, it’s brainstorming time. Ask yourself, “What can I do today to get closer to my goal?” This is where the resourcefulness comes in, which is gold.
Doing this every day before going after a goal can put you and your clients in a confident, persistent, innovative, resourceful and curious mindset. The mindset will help you accomplish seemingly impossible goals – even during a recession or pandemic.
Sara Curto is a Certified Career Strategist who helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search. With a history in counselling plus 15 years of recruitment experience, she teaches people how to think the right thoughts, create the right strategies and take the right actions so that they can land that career in 12 weeks.