As you search for a new job, you’ve probably experienced the flash of failure that comes with not getting called for the interview, not getting called back, or not getting the offer. You’ve probably thought: I’m failing at this because I STILL haven’t found a new job.
The only problem? That thought is wrong.
And it’s blocking you from finding the best career opportunity for you.
It’s time to redefine “job search success” to include the countless wins you earn on your way to a fulfilling and lucrative career. Because this narrow definition of success — win = new job — is deeply flawed and is holding you back from getting what you want from work.
When NOT Getting the Job is Exactly What You Want
When Keisha first came to me she said she didn’t need help interviewing — she knew how to “get a job.” In fact, she got every job she interviewed for!
But there was a common theme amidst this success: the jobs she was hired for were never what she wanted. She “won” the interview, but she wasn’t winning it for herself. She was telling hiring managers what they wanted to hear and which distracted her from hearing her own gut instinct, so she kept ending up in roles that were not what she thought they would be.
Keisha said she didn’t need help interviewing, so we worked on building out her professional brand, resume, LinkedIn profile and networking strategy. Then, she started interviewing again. And one day she called me after an interview and said, “I don’t think they liked me! I don’t think I’m going to get the job!”
Career coach insider secret: I always know when someone’s focused on “winning” the interview instead of being their authentic self, because when I ask how the interview went they tell me what the other person probably thought. “I think he liked me,” or “I think she thought this.” They don’t tell me, “here’s what we talked about, and here’s what I liked and didn’t like.” They talk about the other person’s feelings.
Keisha needed to understand that winning the interview is not about getting the job, it’s about authentically conveying your value and your professional brand. And, it works: Keisha ended up landing a job at Dropbox and is incredibly happy doing exactly what she wants to do (finally!). But first she had to accept the fact that sometimes she was not going to get the job offer, and that’s exactly the outcome she wanted for herself!
It’s like if you were grocery shopping, and every time you picked up a pineapple that wasn’t quite ripe enough you told yourself you were “failing” at your pineapple search. That would be absurd, right? Yet that’s exactly how most people treat their job search: like there’s only one win — getting the job — and anything before that is losing.
How to Win at Every Point in your Job Search
In reality, there are no losses in a job search. Or rather, what most professionals perceive as losses are in fact wins that should be celebrated. Use these five tips to redefine job search “success” and start winning on every step of your search:
1. Celebrate EVERY Win
Every step in your job search is a win: from applying to roles, to not getting calls, to getting a call but no interview, to interviews, to not getting a call back, all the way to not getting an offer.
Why are these all wins? Because if you’re clearly conveying your value and your authentic self, a “no” is a signal that the job, company, or company culture isn’t the right place for you to do your best work. This is critical, and why my Career Confidence Course includes a Slack group to celebrate wins. Not only the wins above, but equally powerful ones like learning how to talk about yourself effectively, getting clear on your professional brand, and creating a resume you’re proud of that represents the authentic you (not just what you can do but who you are).
Another fantastic win? Having an interview and realizing that it’s not the right place for you. Celebrate that win! Too often, job searchers feel like they are at the mercy of the Job Gods, like supplicants praying for good fortune. But when you’re searching for the most aligned job for you, you have power. And since you don’t have to settle, each “no” is a step closer to the best “yes.”
2. Don’t Lower the Bar
The problem with ignoring the many wins I listed above is it can cause you to learn the wrong lesson. If your goal is to win, and the only “win” you can see is getting a new job, then every time you get a “no” you think, uh oh… I better lower the bar. I’m not winning at this level.
When you don’t land the job you view it as a failure. Failure leads you to feeling frustrated, and as humans, we instinctively avoid failure. So what happens when you don’t get the interview? You start aiming lower. What happens when you don’t get the job? You think you aren’t good enough, so you aim lower, ask for less money, or think you have to change who you are before you can aim that high again.
It’s a sad state to be in, and it leads too many talented professionals to sell themselves short. The danger of our culture’s narrow definition of “winning” at the job search is this: settling. Don’t do it. If you’re not getting call backs or job offers, you’re simply refining your search for the right position.
You don’t need everyone to hire you, you need the right person and organization to invite you to join their team.
3. Aim High(er think you Think You Should)
On the other hand if you’re getting offered every job you apply for, you’re probably aiming too low. If “success” comes too easily, I invite you to aim higher for yourself.
Particularly if you’re a woman or a person of color, you may have a lot of cultural conditioning urging you to “play it safe” and “take what you can get.” But our world needs diverse individuals in high-level, decision-making roles (and companies need you, too). There is a hiring manager, company and corporate culture waiting for that special, unique perspective that you have to offer in a high-level role. Not everyone will be ready for the full value that you have to offer. Your job is to find the one place that is.
4. Don’t be a Chameleon, be your Unapologetic Self
This is a trap I see many high-achieving and high-performing professionals fall into: we’re used to figuring out what other people want from us, and doing that to get hired, get promoted, and get what we want. But the problem with giving people what they want is you end up not getting what YOU want.
A win I love celebrating is the win of showing up to an interview and being exactly who you are… and not getting the job. That means who you are isn’t the right fit for the role, and it’s not personal. And this is not BS I’m saying because I’m a career coach, it’s the reality. If you show up and you’re true to who you are, that’s a WIN — even if you don’t get the job.
5. Update Your Timeline
Another trap many job seekers fall into is putting pressure on themselves to get a new job immediately. Know this: as you gain professional experience, your job search will take longer. From my work with clients as a recruiter and career coach, a mid-career job search takes 4-6 months. That’s because there are fewer opportunities as you move up the corporate ladder, which is why it’s so important to get clear on your professional brand so you can stand out from the competition.
What Does This Mean for a Job Search in the Time of Covid-19?
As hiring has slowed (somewhat) and more people are in the market due to layoffs, you can expect that your job search may take 6 months or longer this year. Some people will experience super rapid hiring, and others in more niche fields may experience slower movement. Why do I bring this up? Because I want you to shift your focus away from timeline, and to focus instead on the daily actions you can take. Indeed, it is each small step that will get you closer to your goal, and every step is worth celebrating!
Land the Job You Want
There is plenty we can’t control in the world and in our job search, but the incredible resource you always have is you. Celebrating your efforts, and staying true to yourself and your goals, is how you will find a deeply fulfilling and lucrative career that suits you.
Not sure if you should search for a new job? Debating whether to stick it out? Feeling stuck? I recommend my How to Get What You Want at Work tool for talented professionals.
This new tool outlines the 3 Keys for Exceptional Career Growth and reveals whether you can access them in your current position — or if it’s time to move on. With the Exceptional Career Growth Assessment, you’ll discover exactly what you need to create the career you desire. And, this tool grows as your career does — you can use it now, in six months, or in six years to make sure you never settle and always stay true to yourself and your needs in your career.
Many professionals stay stuck in jobs with lousy bosses, frustrating coworkers and stunted growth potential because, well, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, right? Ummm…let’s aim to not work for the devil, period. Even in times of economic uncertainty there are opportunities for high-achieving, skilled professionals across industries, and there is no reason you should stay trapped in a job that stifles you. After all, this is about your whole life, not just your job.
Click the below for instant access to How to Get What You Want at Work, and take the first step closer to your dream career.