Job Search

How to Harness the Power of Your Mindset to Elevate Your Career

The Fundamentals of a Job Search Plan of Attack

We all know 2020 was a rough year. Unemployment was at an all time high due to the pandemic. The unemployment rate in May might have been as high as 16%, an estimate by the U.S. government which isn’t recorded because of measurement challenges. 

I know many of my clients were in the midst of a career change making great progress in February 2020, and then life turned upside down. Several clients were balancing full time childcare, homeschooling, taking care of elderly parents and managing the responsibilities of daily life while trying to keep up with networking, applying to opportunities and preparing for interviews. 

Although it’s a new year, we’ve experienced continued challenges mixed with hope for positive change. There’s so much that’s out of our control given the economy and the state of the world. When things seem in flux and uncertainty is very present, it can be difficult to stay hopeful. I also know the job search itself comes with so many ups and downs. 

If you’re struggling with uncertainty right now and you’re in the midst of a career transition, I don’t want you to give up. I have a framework for you that will support you both mentally and strategically. (The mental part is more than half the battle!)

Here’s how to tackle the job search in 2021 in a way that will allow you to learn, grow, and have more successful outcomes. 

Tune into your emotional triggers

First, what are emotional triggers? Emotional triggers are hot spots or events that put you in a state of stress or overwhelm.

For example, let’s say you’re checking your email as you do daily. You stumble on an email and maybe the tone doesn’t sit well with you. Suddenly you’re feeling off. Maybe your heart is beating a little faster and your palms are sweating. Or you’re experiencing a discomfort that’s even more subtle.

Something isn’t quite right. You’re not feeling as grounded as you were when you started checking your inbox, but you can’t necessarily put your finger on what the shift is all about. Tune into your emotional triggers

You’re likely experiencing an emotional trigger. 

This happens often during the job search especially if you’ve received a rejection, had an interview that didn’t go as well as you’d hoped or you haven’t heard back from employers after sending out multiple applications. 

If this sounds like you, don’t rush through your triggers. Instead, give yourself some space to pause and reflect. Maybe even write down how you’re feeling so that you can get it out of your head and on paper.

Bringing these triggers into awareness will allow you to process the ups and downs of the job search. This is a healthier response than simply avoiding them or burying your negative emotions – which eventually come back to the surface. 


Learn to shift your state

I find many of my clients who have been job searching are struggling emotionally. The job search can be draining even when we’re not in a pandemic. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or down for a significant amount of time, ask yourself: What do I need to feel better? Is it some time to yourself? Connection with family and friends? Do you need a break from the monotony of networking (even if it’s happening on zoom) and applying online. 

I’m a big fan of identifying your positive triggers – resources or tools that help you shift from a place of fear or disappointment to a place of possibility. For my clients, positive triggers can include reading, working on a puzzle or tapping into specific resources. For others it’s meditating or listening to an inspiring podcast. 

Here’s a list of positive triggers that will help you feel more grounded. Download it here and save it somewhere where you can easily reference it. It’s so important to have some tips and tricks in your toolbox to help you shift your state so that you don’t get stuck in the fear or stress of the day-to-day. 

Craft a growth-minded strategy

Now that you’ve worked on your mindset, let’s talk about action and strategy. Remember that action is most powerful when it’s coming from a clear-headed place. 

Here are some questions that I suggest you sit with to help you carve out your strategy. 

  • What actions do you want to take when you’re feeling most optimistic? 
  • What questions do you have as you navigate the job search? 
  • What companies are you curious about? 
  • What opportunities do you want to learn more about?

Let these questions guide who you connect with, the companies you explore and the job roles you want to apply to. I always recommend that clients have a job search strategy that allows them to learn more and explore possibilities. 

Furthermore, as you go through this process – take a growth-minded approach. This means focusing on what you’re learning about yourself and the opportunities rather than the end outcome. Track all of your wins along the way, no matter how small they seem. I promise you this will be more fulfilling and will keep you motivated. 

Finally, I recommend finding a community to grow your network vs. relying on your immediate network. The right community will offer emotional support as well as strategic guidance. It will keep you going during your most difficult days, and reaching out for guidance is much easier when you’re surrounded by others who have similar goals and aspirations. This is one of the reasons I founded Work Bigger. I don’t believe we should go through our careers feeling isolated and alone.


Need help in your job search? Try our coaching services!


About the Author

Belma McCaffrey is a career and leadership coach on a mission to redefine work and challenge the status quo so that work is a vehicle for impact and living a better life. She brings empathy, connection and a strategic mindset to her clients where she supports them with identifying the right opportunities and then developing the most strategic way to land those opportunities. Prior to becoming a coach, Belma spent 10+ years in business development and strategy roles at companies like the Associated Press, GroupM, and Conde Nast. She also runs her own coaching platform and community, Work Bigger. Belma has a B.A. in political science and public relations from Syracuse University, an M.B.A. in marketing from Baruch College, and is receiving her coaching certification with the NeuroLeadership Institute where she applies foundations in neuroscience to her leadership and career coaching.