3 Ways to Keep your Job Search Expectations in Check for When you Start to Lose Your Confidence

You had it! For one shining moment you were so sure the next position you applied for was yours! Then you didn’t get that one. Ok, that wasn’t “the one” but this next one this is it! I’m perfect, this is so right for me. And then you don’t get that one either. This can put you head first into a downward spiral very fast. You must have systems in place to intercede and keep you on track. How do you keep carrying that confidence, courage, and momentum forward when you keep getting punched in the guts?

“You can’t fail if you don’t quit” - Grant Cardone, Be Obsessed or Be Average

There is a huge drop out rate for STEM careers. Especially for women. It’s still a male-dominated industry and it’s tough to balance life and work in a STEM or environmental position. There are many reasons people leave before they reach their full potential in these roles. One reason is that it’s hard to get the exact job you want and most people quit before they actualize their dream. Heck, most people quit before they even get their first environmental job.

Most job seekers I encounter just want to know how to update their resumes. A resume is certainly important but if that is the only thing you’re focused on, you're limiting your potential and your options. You’ve got to grow some very thick skin. You’ve got to understand that there is a lot of competition out there and you have to take responsibility for rising to the top in whatever area you're searching in. This is no easy task. 

Here are 3 strategies that you can use to help keep your expectations in check:

  1. Seek awareness.
    1. Seek to learn from people with the experience you need to learn more about, not just the people who have the job title you want. Look for people who did the thing you want to do. For example, someone who made the move from an accountant to a marine scientist or a marketing and design person to an environmental sustainability consultant. 
    2. Don't compare your situation to another's progress. Everyone is on their own journey. Some people get started on a better foot so they collect relevant experience early either by chance or on purpose. If you just decided yesterday to start changing careers you can't compare yourself to someone who prepared for it since day 1 of their studies. All you can do is do your best to catch up. 
  2. Own it.
    1. Get an accountability partner, coach, or mentor. When you’ve got a big leap to make it’s best to make that leap when you have someone making the leap with you. Talk to them regularly about what you've applied for, why you applied for it, what the outcome was, and what you can grow from it.
    2. Every job offer not received is an opportunity. You have to look for what that opportunity might be. Sometimes it is the ability to learn something that can help you to adjust your future job search strategy. Other times, a new reason to reach out to a connection might present itself. Always follow up, especially when you don't get the offer. 
    3. Own your reality. If the job you want is super hard to get, don't tell yourself it will be easy. Keep telling yourself it will be hard. Then keep going and keep patting yourself on the back for persevering. 
  3. Get real.
    1. Consider the odds of what you are trying to accomplish. Are you just out of school and want to start your own business? It’s not impossible. Did you head off in one direction and now want to circle back and work with whales? It’s not impossible. It’s just really damn hard! What would you say the odds were of accomplishing that thing? If you said it would be a 1 in 100 shot to get a whale research position… guess how many applications and/or networking connections you should expect to have to make?
    2. The best way to plow through the numbers game is to track where you apply and shoot for the number of applications that it will take. Not just applying for anything and everything, throwing spaghetti at the wall only makes a mess. Learn which positions will take you in the direction you want to go, even if it’s a baby step, and keep learning and honing in on that. 

The only way to make your dreams come true is to be dedicated to them. I repeat - because I think it is worth repeating every single day - Grant Cardone says, “You can only fail if you quit”.  You are accountable for the outcome of everything in your life. Everything. If you have a mentor, you have to squeeze the value out of it. If you hire a coach, they will do all they can to help you but YOU have to show up and deliver…. Even if it takes delivering, applying, making calls, 100 times over. It could take even more if your leap is bigger than 1 out of 100. 

If you didn't like the first three, here are three more:

  1. Hold on to your dreams
  2. Never stop the cycle of gaining experience, learning, and reprioritizing
  3. Balance reality with fantasy 

You might also like the free personal branding worksheet

or the personal development worksheet

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This article has been written on Day 27 of a March Madness Content Challenge.  

Perhaps you've been thinking about starting a blog or podcast to help you stand out in your job search or build a new skill? Start your own challenge!

Stay gold!

The Environmental Career Coach provides group and personal coaching for students, recent grads, and career changers to help them get from where they currently are and onto paths to successful environmental careers. 


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