The job search ecosystem is a lot like Disneyland and Luna Park. Once you enter through the amusement park gates, you better be prepared to hold on tight and expect the unexpected. Are you emotionally ready for the job search theme park?
The roller coasters, dodgem cars, water wild thrills, gravitron’s and plethora of other bat scary, sky high rides have people screaming in excitement or bloody terror. But not all rides will lose your lungs and nerve with the likes of gentle carousels and love boats.
And there is good reason why warning notices are at the entrance of most rides. Hopping on them with a full stomach, dodgy heart, severe anxiety or certain physical ailments is ill advised and can end badly.
Entering the world of career changes and job searching is very much the same. Applying, interviewing and waiting for feedback has all the ups, downs and unexpected dips and thrills of a theme park.
One minute you will feel like you are flying close to the sky, and the next you have dipped into the depth of self doubt. Mental health and wellbeing challenges can be triggered even in the easiest of times.
🎢 THE REALITY
There is no two ways around it, finding a new career or professional role can be bloody hard work and scary as all hell. Even the most accomplished senior executives feel the ping of trepidation alongside those with only a few years’ experience.
The whole hiring ecosystem is not all carousels and love boats, though it can be sometimes. Expecting things to trigger, frustrate and confuse you is part of the course. But the impact can be far less by being emotionally ready.
Many people are less than emotionally ready and like a full stomach on a ride, the job search process just doesn’t go as well as they would hope.
Over the years I have seen time and time again how people want to leave a company, find employment but are just not ready.
The compounding negative impact creates more angst and issues. I have often had to decline working with very talented people if they are not in the right frame of mind to enter the job search world.
Gaining career clarity and job search confidence is a very different situation than chronic emotional barriers that can paralyse and cause great distress.
🎢 THE ROUTE & CIRCUMSTANCES
The circumstances in wanting to find a new job, or being forced to do so, can have a significant impact on emotional readiness.
Unexpected redundancies, being bullied, obnoxious management, traumatic roles, ridiculous workloads, burnout and even unrealistic family pressures all contribute to a state of emotional vulnerability.
Self-worth, career goals and confidence will be negatively impacted. And a surprising truth is that words & actions are as loud as thoughts and feelings.
Despite many putting on a stiff upper lip and ‘let’s go’ façade it is futile to think people wont get a sense that something isn’t quite right for you.
If there are any icky unresolved issues, resentment, anger, inner turmoil or debilitating self-worth issues, others will pick up on that negativity. And don’t forget body language and how you say something are key clues.
People always will attempt to mask negative feelings, but façades are transient and energy and success is compromised.
After all, you need a lot of energy and a solid emotional base to hit the career and job footpath, and self sabotage is a regular outcome if underlying issues are not fearlessly addressed.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is no way that a person can and will remain upbeat 24/7 every day. So don’t expect that you can and will be a super charged each day.
Applications, cover letters, interviews, rejections, ghosting, and a raft of other hiring rides is challenging for everyone at times. And I also acknowledge the financial stressors if unemployed or feeling trapped.
I guarantee that no matter a persons role or profession, be at $900K or $90K salary levels, the ride of hiring is never linear and everyone will feel exposed in some way at times.
And often men and women remain in a role/ company due to different psychological trappings including Corporate Stockholm Syndrome (CSS). They may state they want to move and even engage in paid support to do so.
If not fully emotionally ready, time and money will be wasted. Self-worth takes an extra negative hit when there is reluctance to implement and act.
🎢 ARE YOU ARE EMOTIONALLY READY
Before I dive into key warning signs, this is not about having a new clever resume, brilliant LinkedIn, clear career strategy etc. These are ‘market ready actions’. What follows is ensuring that you address issues that will not hamper your success
a/ Chronic Anxiety – Do thoughts of job searching bring up deep dread, anxiety and fear this needs to be managed. Many will have these feelings at times. But if they are paralysing, relentless or even bring on panic attacks it’s a warning bell.
b/ Unresolved Trauma – Do you have past or current workplace trauma, bullying or unresolved employment legal issues needing to be addressed? Or are there family conflict issues around your work and decisions?
c/ Physical Issues – Do you have physical manifestations such as sleep disturbances, headaches, backache, and appetite changes? Monitor your body’s responses to stressors related to job hunting and work issues.
d/ Lingering Resentment – Do you catch yourself living in the past and dwelling 24/7 on negative work experiences? Do you ruminate with resentment on how you have been treated?
e/ Low Self-Esteem – Do you feel a deep sense of inadequacy and inner self-loathing shame? It’s worth remembering Brene Brown’s perspectives that Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.” The issue here is if you are feeling parts of your life/career are not adequate VS every part of yourself.
f/ Avoidance & Overwhelm – Do you procrastinate and avoid any of the actions that will help your job search? Does the feelings of change overwhelm and paralyse as you think about moving out of your comfort zone?
🎢 GETTING EMOTIONALLY READY
1/ Counsellor or Career Psychologist -I cannot stress how valuable and important working with a professional counsellor or career psychologist can be. Mental health is fundamental to careers and job happiness at any stage.
2/ Self-Reflection: Reflect on the root cause of resentment and anxiety. Journaling can be very effective. Remember you are human and not a robot.
3/ Acknowledge Emotions: Give space and respect to your feelings without self judgement. You are allowed to grieve, be angry and work through that process.
4/ Set Realistic Goals: Start with a few tiny achievable goals to strengthen your confidence muscle.
5/ Focus on Strengths: Shift the narrative by focussing on what you CAN DO not what you cannot do. Keep reflecting on all the achievements and wins you have had in life and your career.
6/ Stomp on the Negative Monster what you feel and think is felt all around you. Challenge the bullshit you are telling yourself. Ask yourself ‘is my opinion of myself really true’?
7/ Affirmations: They can be really encouraging. I have a few always printed on my office wall. Everyone needs them to keep on track. Find the affirmations that mean something to you and eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner ok.
8/ Network of Support: Don’t listen to naysayers and keep clear of others struggling with their own issues and transferring them. Choose your supporters wisely with expectations of who they should be.
9/ Give yourself priority – Anything that reduces stress and impacts mindfulness is great. Do what you want to do and what brings a smile to your own dial. Put your self-care as a priority.
10/ Boundaries: Strengthen your boundary and self-respect muscles across all areas of your life. Build your emotional readiness by not saying yes to anyone when you are really wanting to say no.
🎢 MAXIMISING SUCCESS
So if you are emotionally in a good place to start your job search or activate a career change don’t forget it will still be like a theme park visit. And that’s ok to ride the roller coasters and carousels.
But with a solid emotional foundation before you get stuck into your resume, LinkedIn, strategy and interviews you stand a much better success rate. And in the preparation of a job search strategy you will have an open heart and mind to map out career clarity and your zone of brilliance.
Never forget you deserve joy and fulfilment. And whether you are already happily employed, or about to enter the job search world remember that:
‘No one does exactly what you do in the exact way you do it’
If you are ready to jump start 2024, take a look at my career services and packages for professionals and executives here.