Looking for work but feeling lost? Go for it and see what happens!
May 10, 2022
Do you feel weary, full of doubt, and have lost your bearings? It’s not unusual to feel lost when looking for a job, it’s actually quite common. The job hunt can knock your self-confidence and have you doubting your goals more than ever. To get yourself back on track, there is nothing better than some good old-fashioned introspection to figure things out: what you want to do next, what type of company you want to work for, if you want to move to a new city, etc. In short, you ponder things to get a clearer vision of your professional ambitions - and that’s perfectly normal. But tread lightly, you don’t want to overdo it and end up actually holding yourself back. What if the solution to your doubts is to take action? Mila Elhamdi, a professional coach specializing in career management, reveals her secrets for getting through this dreaded phase with peace of mind.
Don’t lose yourself in your job search
The risks of inactivity
Applying for a job requires serious thought and reflection. You shouldn’t just rush headfirst into the first job that comes along after the last one ends, especially if you were laid off. “There’s most often a grieving phase that follows and the goal is to understand how and why it happened,” explains Mila Elhamdi. “You then have to evaluate your experience, consider what comes next, think about what you want, and visualize all the possibilities that might present themselves in the near future”.
While taking this time to process is essential for the future, long-term inactivity comes with its fair share of risks: “Not only does a job search gradually turn into a well-established and comfortable routine, but this period of inactivity also tends to make people dread the aftermath even more,” says the coach. “You become increasingly afraid of being rejected, of not finding a job that meets your criteria, or of having to start all over again with time constraints, obligations, and building new relationships with higher-ups.”
All these fears end up reinforcing your anxieties and turn into a lack of action. Your self-confidence is then shaken and you start to lose the ability to market yourself. “But there’s no need to panic. The professional jargon, industry news, and new tools will all come back to you very easily with a little bit of preparation”, says Mila Elhamdi. Plus, inactivity can lead to some very real damage, and it’s not enough to simply just think about achieving your goals. “You have to get your hands a little dirty,” says the specialist.
Taking the leap: a win-win situation
Taking action is a key step in the job-hunting process, even if you tend to forget that. “This is actually how we manage to clear up the gray areas that may emerge from reflection and deal with the questions that are left unanswered,” says Mila Elhamdi. It’s important to keep checking out offers, reaching out to recruiters, sending applications, and interviewing.
Each action you take will contribute to the success of your job search. “First of all, by applying for a job, you increase the number of opportunities to practice and improve your pitch”, says the coach. But it also allows you to better assess your profile, to know what it’s worth in the field, and maybe adapt it by refining certain skills.
Lastly, “it’s a way to prioritize the criteria that are important to you, to know why you are looking for one type of job over another, what you’re willing and not willing to compromise on, and also the conditions that you don’t want to end up in again,” says Mila Elhamdi. In essence, it’s all about positioning, which requires practice.
5 tips to kick start your job search
It’s impossible to know what to improve, what recruiters expect, and what you expect without taking the risk of stepping out of your comfort zone. But it’s not always easy to take the plunge, especially when your job search has been going on for a while. Mila Elhamdi shares five tips to get you started.
1. Change the way you see the job hunt
First of all, you have to change the way you see things, as the simple fact of applying for a job is synonymous with all kinds of anxiety. “But rather than seeing it as a punishment, take it as a way to practice,” says Mila Elhamdi. By increasing how many interviews you do, you’ll manage to refine your search until you get the job that suits you. “Especially since this time is also an opportunity to take care of yourself outside of your job search.”, she says. So why pout about it?
2. Create a plan of action
The second step is to get organized and create an action plan based on your objectives. It’s about knowing exactly where to start the recruitment process. “So which avenue do you want to go down first: your network or the offers? Or both?”, asks Mila Elhamdi. When this step is checked off, respond to the offers that have caught your eye, even those you’re not 100% sold on. Not only are these the ones that will allow you to refamiliarize yourself with what job interviews are like, but it’s also only by speaking with the recruiters that you can be sure a position may not be for you. And who knows, one of them might just turn out to be your dream job.
3. Surround yourself with the right people
Being isolated can fuel a passive approach to job hunting. “By not having the same schedule, the same constraints, or the same desires as the people in your life who are working, you can easily cut yourself off from the world,” says Mila Elhamdi. The important thing is to be careful to surround yourself with people you are close to in your field and to stay in touch with your old network. The latter will then be able to keep you informed of the latest opportunities before anyone else, put you in contact with recruiters, recommend companies, or simply give you advice to help you orient yourself and ask the right questions. This is ideal for making your next career move!
4. Keep learning
While being proactive means applying for jobs and putting yourself to the test in interviews, it also means continuing to learn new things. So take advantage of this time to perfect your skills. “The job search is an ideal time to fill in certain gaps when it comes to changes in your field and to improve your skills,” says Mila Elhamdi. To do this, you should browse available and interesting online courses - there’s something out there for everyone! “Not only is this rewarding for you,” says the expert, “but it also allows you to answer that dreaded question: what have you been doing during this time?” It’s also a great way to continue discovering things about yourself and to reaffirm what you do and don’t want professionally.
5. Stay on top of things
Finally, staying connected to your professional sector is key to making the right moves. “To do that, you have to stay informed on industry news and keep up to date with relevant goings-on,” says the coach. When you are immersed in your work, it’s not uncommon to be unaware of what is happening elsewhere, due to a lack of perspective. “So take advantage of this time to get a better overall view of your field”, says Mila Elhamdi. ”Are there new challenges, new tools, innovative work methods, or is there new software being used?” Take a look at the developments specific to your business! Staying in the loop will keep you motivated.
So while ultimately overthinking when you’re looking for a job is not unusual, it can still be risky, both for your morale and for your future recruiters. So take advantage of this free time to stay sharp! Continue to learn new things, adjust your profile, refine your expectations and, above all, apply for jobs. Taking action is still the best way to boost your morale, so no more hesitating: take the plunge once and for all.
Photo: Welcome to the Jungle
Translated by Kalin Linsberg
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