Avoid sabotaging your own job search! Here are 5 ways

Here are 5 ways of sabotaging your job search. Obviously, you don’t want to do any of these, but people do. How to stop sabotaging your own search? Use the antidotes to each.

Self-sabotage #1: Don't change anything in your search! <-- Don’t get left behind

Do you find yourself thinking this: I don't need to change my approach. Or change my resume. I’ll just do it like I've always looked for a job. Heck, it worked before (even though that was 5 or 10+ years ago). Don't take chances, don't listen to the career counselors or coaches (who are only in it for the money, right?).

Antidote: Understand that as much as you may not like it, things change, including job search. Why? People change, society changes, technology changes. The only constant is change. And even good change is scary. But step forward anyway, and do some things to catch up: connect with others in your field to learn what they're working on and how they landed their jobs. Or compare the curriculum at your college today to the one you took years ago (different, isn't it?!) – and see what new things you can learn now. Career coaches get paid because they usually shorten your search and make it less frustrating. So be part of the future: it's already here.

Self-sabotage #2: Give up control of what you CAN control, and try to control what you can't. <-- Oh no, this means pain and the discouragement that comes with it.

Blame your age, blame COVID, blame the government, the economy, the times: they are making you stay home and watch TV instead of getting a new job. Don't network, don't do research on companies, don't try to meet new people, don't join a buddy group, don't stop talking about how you’ll “probably just end up working at Home Depot."

Antidote: Turn off the news. Then, looking just at 1-2 weeks ahead, set realistic goals for networking, support group meetings, connecting with people on LinkedIn. Have a reward waiting for you if you meet that week's goals. Take it 1-2 weeks at a time. After only a month, you will have done far more to get that new job than ever before, and you'll have rewards to show for it, and prepare for it. And by the end of that month, you will have established positive habits around things you CAN do something about in your job hunt.

Self-sabotage #3: Take it all personally. <-- A sure way to stall your search

This has never happened to you before so you are humiliated, you worked so hard for your last company and here you are out of work, these other companies aren't getting back to you on purpose, etc. etc. 

Antidote: Know that we are living in one of the most profoundly changing times in our country's -- and the world's -- economic history. Just about everyone has been affected, all over the world. So this is not about YOU. It's about many people. The smart people, however, don't wait for a rescue; instead, they dig in and they learn what they can to change their own situation. They realize it won't be easy or smooth, but they know that their own activity is key to landing a new job. They have faith that they will land a new job and they keep their eyes on that horizon. Practice thinking that way so that you short-circuit any self-sabotage in your head or heart.

Self-sabotage #4: Don't take care of yourself. <-- Instead, be good to yourself so that you can serve others.

Hey, you say, I deserve to eat whatever I want, after being laid off and all. I don't have time to exercise. I NEED that chocolate/cigarette/drink/lottery ticket.

Antidote: Now you HAVE the time to walk, go to the gym, take that smoking cessation class, join the weight-loss support group. Take the frustration from losing your job and turn that into a positive energy that you apply to yourself in a good way, not a negative energy where you damage yourself. That way, you can look back and say "If I hadn't lost my job, I might still not be taking care of myself. Sometimes what seems bad at first turns out good."

Self-sabotage #5: Waste time. <-- So easy to do, biggest danger in job search self-sabotage.

Don't plan your day/week, don't worry about going to networking events, it's OK to watch The Weather Channel all day (educational), you deserve to play video games all afternoon (takes your mind off being depressed). Or: now's the time to paint the house or run errands for Mom, do all those things I couldn't get to when I was working, or I'll play golf until the money runs out.

Antidote: Inactivity and procrastination breed hopelessness. The smart job hunter knows that it's good to take breaks BUT they know that smart activity is the best way to fend off the depression that comes with inactivity and procrastination. And they know that putting off "the work" of the job search (networking, being active in your field such as on LinkedIn) only makes a person feel MORE desperate when they finally do get around to looking for a job. So push yourself to do something every day that moves your search forward. Even little steps will lead to bigger ones. Reward yourself for every forward movement you make – that movement creates momentum!


A final word

Use these antidotes and you won't get poisoned or stalled by self-sabotage. Be good to yourself in these ways, and it WILL pay off.



Updated for 2021 - blog entry by Joanne posted in 2010


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