When seeking a new position, too many pressures overwhelm your ability to think straight! A few of the most common issues arise around financial urgency, personal situation/timing, and external stressors from interviewing, offer negotiation, and ultimately, deciding which offer to accept.
Through my experience as a headhunter, here are 3 Mental Hacks to Approach Job Search to maintain control and not lose yourself in the process!
1. Adjust your mindset to be one of confidence in your value and ditch the idea of qualifications*. Many candidates new to the job force, or experienced professionals in transition, are fearful of not being able to find a job or being “unqualified” for certain roles. Right from the outset, they’re already fighting to stay alive in the employment game. This is 100% the wrong way to approach not only job search, but life in general! I haven’t even started to shed the real-world views from clients on qualifications as an industry (MBA namely or bogus Masters’/education programs) yet. Another topic for another day…
*Anything not explicitly dictated by legal/compliance/industry-specific credentials (aka JD for lawywers, MDs for doctors, CPA, Series 6/7 etc.)
You would think C-level executives or more experienced Directors/VPs don’t struggle with this mindset problem. Nope! Frighteningly, when I transitioned to head up my last company’s executive search business, I discovered that my new C-level candidates possessed the same if not more fear and similarly low morale. In fact, they actually had much more to worry about – such as college tuition for their children, mortgages, more social pressures as they feared their professional network’s judgement, etc. I’ve worked with candidates decades younger who had double the amount of hope and self-assurance, despite being new to the game. What does this tell you? There is no such thing as “unqualified”. It’s all in your head!
TIP: I never have called candidates “unqualified” as a blanket statement, because even though one client may deem them so, another may think they’re a perfect fit, which is the term I like more. Furthermore, humans are so adept at learning, that literally in the span of an hour or a week, you can be “qualified”! I encourage everyone to stop thinking that you always have to “qualify” for something, anything short of an Olympic event. Therefore, never describe yourself as “unqualified”, you may actually be rejecting opportunities and unconsciously writing yourself off a promotion or a better job! Even if you feel it, don’t say it outwardly to others because they will take your word for it and take you out of the process. Don’t be a victim of a classic case of foot in the mouth.
Armed with the right mindset, #2. Take back your power during the interview process. As much as you’re being interviewed, you have full right to interview your perspective employer right back! Again, whether you’re an intern or executive, you have a right to know certain things. Think of the type of company you aspire to work at and your dream job. With that goal in mind, ask your interviewer: What’s your management style, what’s the company culture, what are current issues your company is facing? Get on the offensive and seek answers to fit your vision. Otherwise, come offer time, you won’t really know if they align to YOUR needs. Employment is a two-way street, and you have a right to know everything you need to make that decision as well!
TIP: If you still have concerns after the offer is delivered, don’t feel pressured to take the job right away. There’s still a brief window for negotiation on salary/setup. You can request a follow-up call with the manager to talk more about the job/company. Ask the HR person/recruiter/hiring manager you’re working with to make it happen! Once you have the offer, it’s by no means a done deal. You still have time to ask questions you may have neglected earlier in the process.
Lastly, #3. Drum up momentum and start leveraging other companies to really turn the game on its head. I always ask my candidates where else they’re interviewing. The reason I’d like to know is not to do some shady activities to sabotage your job search, but to help you leverage those companies and potential offers to boost up your market value! Of course, there are myriads of untrustworthy headhunters out there, but at some point you have to trust that your recruiter is someone who is actually trying to just do a good job.
TIP: Your best strategy especially midway through interviewing, is to start planting the seed that you’re a hot commodity. Be as transparent and honest as you can about what other companies/roles/salaries you’re considering. This will put all the companies you’re interviewing at on alert. Unless in explicitly confidential situations where you’re really not supposed to tell anyone you’re interviewing there, you can absolutely throw out as little or as much information as you want about what numbers you’re being quoted and what special perks are being offered. There is no intellectual property in that, and certainly no legal requirement. It’s negotiation 101 – use competition to your advantage!
In summary, take the word “unqualified” with a grain of salt. Believe in yourself or at least jazz yourself up consistently throughout the interview process to boost morale at all costs. More importantly, invest enough time and effort so you ideally have more than one job/company interested in you.
What are your strategies on job search mindset control? Share so we can all learn!
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