When someone says “No” to you professionally, it can be hard not to take it personally. And when you’re in the midst of a job search and the No’s start piling up right, left, and center, it’s easy to lose perspective. It’s tempting to just throw strategy to the wind and start trying desperation tactics to get something, anything on the table.
That’s not how you’re going to win this.
First: remember that the most qualified candidate on paper gets the job less than 40% of the time. Which means that in the vast majority of cases, someone (like you) came in, established basic credibility and credentials, and then proceeded to show unique value that made a hiring manager go, “We’re getting something truly special here.” Which means no matter what your personal misgivings or insecurities may be telling you, you have a real shot.
And here are some pointers on shifting your perspective back to a place that lets you take it:
1) Ask Yourself: Am I in Seeding or Harvesting Phase?
Seeding is what you do before you harvest. The more care and attention you spend during the seeding phase, the better the harvest. Don’t try and do both at once — in all likelihood, you’ll just end up not correctly linking the dots and getting poor results.
Examples of Seeding Phase Actions:
–Figuring out your “shortlist” of target roles, and actively connecting with people at ideal companies who would either be able to CREATE a role for you…or are at most 1 step away from the person who can. Think potential bosses and heads of parallel divisions.
-Figuring out your unique “story,” that right mix of passion and hardline details, and communicating it effectively across your LinkedIn Profile and Resume. Expert tip: be shameless about leveraging insights from your competitors. Run a skills-based search on LinkedIn using the top 5-6 skills that you’re strongest in, along with any other criteria you’d like to use. What are some commonalities in branding, listed skills, and “pain points” solved by the people who show up in the first few pages of results? Use these insights to bolster your efforts…and ensure you show up in more relevant recruiter and hiring manager candidate searches.
-Initiating dialogue with high-value people in your immediate network. Let them know about what you’re looking for, and be sure to verbally ask for their help in whatever capacity they can (ex. making an introduction).
–Executing a “Recruiter Campaign” where you simultaneously initiate dialogue with a range of high-quality external recruiters, and explore the idea of working with one.
Examples of Harvesting Phase Actions:
–“Warming up” new, high-quality connections and entering into dialogue with them. The goal here is to create a network of highly placed decision-makers, at target companies, who can get you in when the “pain” that you solve emerges at the company….not months and months later when a job posting is finally cobbled together.
-Systematizing Communications. Having a go-to list of commonly sent emails that you can tweak when chatting with a hiring manager, or firing off your resume, and other common situations can help enormously in terms of saved time and continuous optimization Same goes for your interview strategy — have a basic framework in hand that you use to approach EVERY opportunity..and then tweak from there.
-Refining Your Negotiating Strategy. As the casual hiring discussions you’ve generated for yourself turn into serious ones, it becomes essential to make the most out of every turn at bat. Go deep in identifying what’s most important to you…and what you’re willing to bend on.
2) Identify (and Curb) Negative Thought Patterns.
The hell we put ourselves through during a job search is largely a hell of our own making, composed of repetitive trains of thought and largely baseless worries. Identify them and realize that just because your brain is tossing them out does NOT mean you need to treat them as gospel!
3) Act “As If”
You can’t force belief upon your mind…but you can engage it through a game. You can’t force yourself to be confident and at ease…but you can act “as if” you are. You don’t have 3 other offers on the table to compare versus this one…but can act “as if” you do. Take it from a deeply shy and introverted person- the concept of “fake it ’til you make it” really does work if you treat it seriously…and let the positive results of your new actions gradually turn the fiction into reality.
4) Find an Accountability Partner.
We fail more easily alone. But when someone we respect knows what’s really going on, and will accept nothing less of you than pressing through this period of turmoil to find your fulfillment on the other end, it’s an entirely different story. Coach. Spouse. Mentor. Friend. Whoever it is, take the step of bringing them aboard.