When you lose your job, it can be hard to remember all of your career accomplishments and stay positive. But you can’t replace your old job by staring at a computer eight hours a day or praying for a recruiter to call you. The author presents five ways to overcome the cognitive dissonance of having to sell yourself and your abilities to a prospective employer when your confidence is hit.
When Tonya* worked as a high-level executive at a tech company, she was repeatedly recognized for her value as a subject matter expert. After he was laid off in December, he was confident that his skills would make him marketable and he would find a new job within weeks. Three months later, he’s still looking for the next opportunity, and his confidence in his skills and capabilities dwindles with each rejection.
As your job search continues, it can be difficult to remember all of your career accomplishments and stay positive. Here are five ways to overcome the cognitive dissonance of having to sell yourself and your abilities to a prospective employer when your confidence is hit.
Write 10 reasons why you are successful and read them every morning.
Writing a list of accomplishments can help you change negative thought patterns that destroy your confidence. It’s not enough to just write it down – it’s about reading it every morning to condition your mind to think differently about yourself and the job search. Instead of focusing on the things that make your unemployment worse and the constant rejection, focus on the facts in front of you. What made you successful in your previous work environments? What makes you the “go-to” for colleagues when they have a difficult problem to solve? What skills do you have, and how do you use them to your advantage? For example:
I can build trusting relationships quickly, which has been proven at work when people trust me to solve sensitive issues.
I have been praised for my performance every year, especially for my ability to adapt stakeholders to different needs for their businesses.
Having the truth in front of you about your skills and capabilities will help dispel any unhelpful self-talk because it’s hard to deny the truth.
Set daily and weekly goals.
When you work, you usually know what goals you’re trying to accomplish each day, week, or month. If you’re unemployed, you may have a high-level goal of finding a new job, but as the days turn into weeks and months, you may feel defeated because you haven’t achieved the your purpose.
Break that larger goal down into smaller pieces. Determine the specific period of time you will spend updating your resume, practicing interviewing, researching potential opportunities, and applying for jobs. And don’t just look at your career – think about the goals at home that you can complete to feel accomplished. Whether it’s painting a room or cleaning out the cabinets or your child’s room, now is the time to pick one thing each day or week to tackle.
Find a digital or paper planner that will inspire you to write down your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. This should be broken down each week into what you can do each day. Setting goals for yourself each day will help you “check the box” in your job search and maybe that long list of projects around the house that you haven’t finished yet. And using a planner will provide visual evidence that you’ve accomplished something each day. Ultimately, that will help you rebuild the confidence to carry on until you reach the end goal of a new job.
Create a networking group.
Gather a group of people in your field (or another field if you’re looking for a career pivot) to meet every now and then and remind each other why you enjoy working together and figure out how to help each other. Consider this a BRAINS group for brainstorming. You can discuss how you can transfer your skills and capabilities to a different field or give each other resume or interview feedback. This group may also have the purpose of bringing leads to each other’s work, connecting members to additional connections or resources, or holding members accountable for their goals. Every meeting helps you rebuild your trust because people are trying to help you, and they won’t do that if they don’t believe in you.
Job hunting can be exhausting — Every day you have to wake up and apply for more jobs and reach more contacts in companies that have openings. As Ben Alldis reminds me at every Peloton stretch session, “Self-love is never selfish.” Self-care is done with the pure intention of giving yourself new mental, social, physical, or emotional resources to keep moving forward. Consider setting aside time to do something you’re good at or enjoy each day or week, such as playing golf or pickleball, hiking, biking, or just reading a book. Adding low-pressure, achievable goals to activities — for example, “I’m going to read 30 pages a day” or “I’m going to bike 10 miles this week” — can help you feel accomplished. .
It is important to always think about how you can do it high skill over the course of your career. Volunteering is a great way to keep your skills sharp and even develop new ones. Bringing your expertise as a volunteer will remind you that you have skills that can add value to an organization to help achieve its goals.
Volunteering can also have huge benefits for your psyche – helping others makes you feel grateful, and study consistently shows that those who are grateful are happier because they focus on what is good in their lives.
You can also practice the skills you used in your previous jobs and prove not only to yourself, but also to others, that you have useful skills and capabilities. You can also mentor others in the organization, which will help restore your credibility as a subject matter expert.
. . .
You can’t replace your old job by staring at a computer eight hours a day or praying for a recruiter to call you. Give yourself permission to look for work for a set period of time each day and then give yourself the power to shut down the computer and try one of these ways to rebuild your confidence. Confidence comes from feeling able to make your mind and body do anything you want to accomplish. Building your confidence outside of work will allow you to believe in yourself as a whole, so when you find your next opportunity, you won’t rely on work to confirm your worth. For Tonya, she accepted a job offer after six months of searching and is confident in her capabilities, although this new opportunity is not the final destination.
* Name changed for privacy.