Navigating Your Job Search: Are You Driving with the Brakes On?

You have your list of job requirements. You know what you want and you’re using your best networking and follow-up strategies to get it. At least, you’re trying to. You’re working hard. And time going by without any new developments or success has you working even harder – but now it’s to keep frustration from getting the better of you!

Navigating a job search when you are unemployed can be one of the greatest challenges people experience in the course of their career. Successful job searching requires your best focus, confidence, clarity and strategies. If all of these are not aligned — fueling your energy and enthusiasm — your search can feel like drudgery. The effort you are putting into your search gets slowed down, and you find yourself with about as much forward movement as if you were driving with the brakes on. And when this happens, you are. Make no mistake about it. You are creating your own resistance and moving at a slow pace with starts and stops the whole way. If you’re not feeling energized and focused, clear and confident about your goals and your plan to reach them, it’s a safe bet that you are not having your best interviews, taking your best actions, or bringing your personal best to connect with people with confidence and follow-through.

However, recognizing that the brakes are on is the first step to getting your foot back on that gas pedal!  Below are some signs to help you notice whether or not you have the brakes on in your search process.

Seven Signs that You’re Navigating Your Job Search with the Brakes On

1)    You’re feeling discouraged and are concerned that this may be coming through in your job search and/or networking conversations. Your lack of confidence could absolutely be coming through. After all, it’s often what we don’t say that is most strongly communicated to others. And whether or not your discouragement is actually being communicated, any time your energy and thoughts about your process are less than good, you’re not in “full forward” mode. When this happens, you’re not giving your best to your job search.

 2)    You are dreading the interview question about a previous job you quit, or where you were “down-sized.”  Job loss that was beyond your control can leave you with a sense of loss and frustration. Your feelings, though real and justified, may now be dragging you down and dragging down your job search, too.

 3)    You notice that your tool set or abilities are not as current as they used to be.  On the positive side, finding out information about new tools or technologies can guide your skill development and stimulate new interest in your work.  On the not-so-positive side, hearing about new tools and technology can turn your attention to what you lack rather than to the strengths you bring.   So beware.  Feeling a lack of confidence in your abilities can slow you down to a crawl!

 4)    You find yourself thinking about mistakes you made on that last interview, at your last job, etc.  Thoughts about what didn’t work, or changes you would make if you had the opportunity for a “do over,” can be constructive if you simply allow yourself to learn from them. However, when this learning feels like regret and loss, it’s not only wasting your time and energy, it takes away from your enthusiasm and confidence in the search process.

 5)    Reading your resume does not inspire your confidence. Your resume is essentially your professional self on paper. If you feel it’s not clear, or not strong, or wonder about whether it really targets the particular job you are seeking, your resume is causing you to put your foot on that brake pedal.

 6)    You’re avoiding opportunities to network.  Using the networking strategies that are right for you is important. Finding that you don’t have the energy or desire to connect with people to discuss your work may be a sign that you are not in the driver’s seat, heading towards your goal, but rather stalling in resistance mode.

7)    More and more, you are doubting whether or not you will find a job. This doubting can undo a lot of great past effort on your part, and so it’s a major “caution” light. Thoughts and beliefs about yourself, the job market, your industry, etc. can bring your search to a grinding halt.

At a time when you need to connect with people and market your skills and abilities confidently, a positive perspective and enthusiasm are the fuel you need to get you where you want to go!  So notice if you’ve been inadvertently putting on the brakes in your job search – awareness of what’s happening is the first step.

I look forward to using the coming blog entries to discuss ways to keep you moving in your job search process. And if you want to rev up for success, get into “drive” and hit the gas, remember that working with a coach can be a big help along the way to your next job!


About Trish Pratt, Certified Executive and Career Development Coach

Since starting my coaching business almost 20 years ago, I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of professionals ranging from C-suite executives to individual contributors. Growth areas have ranged from communication, team development and leadership presence, to refining career clarity and direction. I am propelled in my business by the desire to help people align their work success with their life success. Whether supporting leaders in creating a strategic plan that builds an aligned company culture, or supporting individuals in their personal leadership and productivity, I believe that success lies in your clearest and most energized mission and direction. Other accomplishments that support me in my work are: • 15+ years of corporate and individual experience – coaching professionals in their work strategies and career development. • Completed CoachU Coach Certification in 2002 • Completed Executive Coach Certification in 2003 from Executive Coaching Institute • Past Board and Committee member of the International Coach Federation (ICF)- New England • DISC expert and trainer since 2002 • Received Professional Coach Certification (PCC) in 2005 (requiring a minimum of 7500 active coaching hours) • Published in Human Resource Executive Magazine (“Empowering Key Managers”) • Inducted into The Results System™ (formerly PaperRoom™ System) Founder’s Circle in 2011 • Nominated for ICF-New England Executive Coach of the Year Award, 2014
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