It’s the word plaguing job hunters struggling in a competitive employment market and it could be a sign you need to refresh your mindset.
It’s the word plaguing job hunters struggling in a competitive employment market and it could be a sign you need to refresh your mindset.

Word to ban when job hunting

There's no doubt that job hunting right now comes with additional challenges.

The pandemic and recession has contributed to hundreds of thousands of Australians losing their jobs, with the increased competition in the employment market magnifying the stress that can come with looking for a new job.

If this is you, maybe you're putting extra pressure on yourself to hunt through job ads while punishing yourself for taking a break. Or, perhaps you've noticed feelings of self doubt and a lack of confidence grow with every application that goes unanswered.

While experiencing increased external and internal pressures during this time is normal, you may also have noticed the word 'should' creep into your internal dialogue. Phrases like 'I should have submitted that application sooner,' 'I should be writing my cover letter instead of spending time with friends,' or 'I should have answered that question better' may seem like harmless thoughts, but the loaded sentiments can undermine your self-worth during an already taxing process, says SEEK's resident psychologist Sabina Read.

RELATED: Woman's career lesson after redundancy

Protecting your mental health while job hunting Picture: iStock.
Protecting your mental health while job hunting Picture: iStock.

"What I have observed in so many people is that the feelings of guilt are so overwhelming and 'the should' is so loud that they get up in the morning and think 'I have to get a job,'" she says in the SEEK your Mind podcast.

"They're thinking all the time about job hunting but not necessarily actioning it, (and) the voices are so loud that they almost dominate every part of your day."

In this case the overwhelming pressure of what "you should" do can spread into other areas of your life, causing you to abandon activities you normally find replenishing.

"So you don't engage with friends. You might not walk the dog, you might not exercise," says Ms Read.

The solution? Instead of being plagued by feelings of what you "should" do, Ms Read and career coach from RelaunchMe, Leah Lambart say there are a few tips you can use to job hunt productively and with less anxiety.

HOW TO FIND BALANCE WHEN JOB HUNTING

1. Find other activities that give you energy

To avoid the all-encompassing bleed that can come with looking for a job, Ms Read says it's important you give yourself "permission to do other things" you find fulfilling too.

"Perhaps for three hours a day or two hours a day, say 'I will purposely, mindfully and productively attend to the job hunt'," she says.

Finding your balance will put you in a better mindframe to showcase yourself to potential employers too, adds Ms Lambart.

"When you are job hunting, it's more important than ever to find other activities that give you energy because when you're energised, you feel more confident and you need the confidence to take the action."

RELATED: In-demand jobs boosting Aussie recovery

While you’re waiting for responses you can also invest the time into a new creative project, hobby or upskill in your industry. Picture: iStock.
While you’re waiting for responses you can also invest the time into a new creative project, hobby or upskill in your industry. Picture: iStock.

2. Set little (but specific) goals

If you are struggling with motivation, assigning yourself small but achievable goals can help you tackle what initially seems like a daunting to do list.

Sharing her advice for people who feel overwhelmed and paralysed, Ms Lambart advised her to start small by setting three small goals.

"As soon as people start to lose confidence, that's when they do stop picking up the phone and calling people and that just compounds the problem," she says.

"Even if she set herself, perhaps three little goals, really specific goals for each day that she needs to call this person and she puts that time in her diary so that she sticks with it."

3. Reframe your 'shoulds'

If your 'shoulds' come from a place where you're grappling with a sense of uncertainty and a lack of control, think about ways to return "choice, control, purpose and clarity" into your day, says Ms Read.

For example, if you're saying you 'should be getting more interviews' or 'should have gotten a job by now,' it may be helpful to remind yourself that while getting a job offer may be out of your control, you can use this time as an opportunity to upskill while you wait.

"(It's not) about beating yourself up for what you think you should be doing but recognising that we have the ability to change the narrative to focus on what we have done and can do rather than what we can't."

RELATED: Signs your job is making you sick

Other common shoulds can include: ‘you should be job-hunting constantly,’ ‘you should be getting a certain number of interviews,’ or you should apply for every role you come across’. Picture: iStock.
Other common shoulds can include: ‘you should be job-hunting constantly,’ ‘you should be getting a certain number of interviews,’ or you should apply for every role you come across’. Picture: iStock.

4. How to get over the motivation hump

While the job market is recovering - SEEK's latest employment report indicated an 8.5 per cent month-on-month growth in job ads from September to October - the reality is that the employment field is currently more competitive too. If you're experiencing feelings of demotivation or a lack of enthusiasm, Ms Read advises people not to wait for the emotion to trigger the action.

Instead of saying things like "I'll apply for a job when I feel positive," you may need to acknowledge your negative feelings and "take action regardless," she says.

"Getting yourself motivated becomes the biggest hurdle in the job hunt, and we have to find a way around that.

"(Say) I'm not feeling ready, I'm not feeling confident, I know that about myself but despite that, I will take action and see what happens. Take on more of a curious mind set."

This article was created in partnership with SEEK

Originally published as Word to ban when job hunting



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