• Mark Pearce

7 ways to destroy feeling helpless in your job search

Looking for a job is hard work. At times, you feel alone. You don't hear back from recruiters or employers. Like a lycra-clad cyclist running a red light, it’s one of today’s certainties.

Most employers don’t understand how ignoring your job application damages their brand. If they’re this ignorant, how can you expect them to understand how you're feeling?

They’ve done studies, you know?

According to websites like Beyond Blue (www.beyondblue.org.au), feeling helpless is driven by a basic need not being fulfilled. In your case, it’s likely driven by not having a job.

When you’ve applied for several jobs and not heard back, it’s easy to start believing there are hidden forces making this happen. This can manifest itself into you believing you’re not good enough and companies won't employ you. It can leave you feeling depressed.

Alright, this is a worst case scenario but it’s still dire for people experiencing it. The longer you're out of work, the worse it becomes.

However, there’s a pattern here. A pattern with one common theme - someone is solely responsible for driving these beliefs and behaviours.

It's you. And it's time to destroy this pattern.

That’s easy for you to say

In January 2018, I found myself on the employment market for the first time in almost 7 years. I experienced a sudden lack of communication. It felt worrying. Would I find a job? Would I be able to pay the bills? What about the mortgage?

As much as it may be crappy out there, it’s not the end. Yes, there are crappy employers with hiring processes so bad, they can only ignore you. There are also thousands of fantastic employers. Remember that. If you’re not in the right frame of mind, you won’t notice them.

You can control how you see things, how you feel and how you behave. You can’t control how an employer processes your direct job application. Let what you can't control go.

Here are some tips to help you overcome feeling helpless during your search for work. Would I implement these tips? I did. I think you should too.

7 tips to overcoming helplessness during your job search

1. Start by identifying and analysing areas where you feel helpless. If employers aren’t responding to your job applications, could it be that your resume needs a tweak? Are you presenting yourself in a way that immediately grabs an employers attention? Are you unsure what to say in a job interview? If an employer's website has a maze of confusing instructions and a wanky process to follow, could it be that they're this erratic to work for? Once you start to analyse things, you'll see a different picture unfold.

2. Redevelop a belief system where you're going to gain control of your job search. Read up on how you can improve your resume, how you can approach employers differently and what you can say in a job interview. Stay focused and keep tweaking your approach to employers. Hard work pays off. If you're stuck for information, try reading blogs by the teams at www.medium.com, www.recruitingdaily.com or www.theundercoverrecruiter.com.

3. Ignore the state of the market. Good employers still hire no matter the market condition. Establish a routine to find them. Keep a track of the jobs you’ve applied for and the people you’ve met at interview. This will build your momentum and develop a network of new people. Here are some further tips on increasing your chances of finding work.

4. Stop hiding behind your excuses. When you say you can’t do something, you’re feeding your subconscious a message that reinforces your beliefs and behaviours. This can leave you feeling depressed. Start thinking you can do something because it’s likely you’ve done it before. Remember the time you first sat in the saddle of a bike and you were terrified you couldn't ride the thing? That thought didn't last long, did it? Start challenging your excuses and you'll notice a change in your circumstances.

5. Accept you have no control over an employer’s hiring process and who they hire. Accept that employers sometimes make mistakes and they’ve hired the wrong person - yes, they should have hired you. Accept you have some control on how you can approach employers differently.

6. Build a network of supportive people. It's not difficult to find supportive mentors, recruiters, peers and ex-colleagues who’ll support you when you ask. (Notice I didn’t say ‘if you ask’). Ask your network to pick you up if they spot you drifting into a state of helplessness.

7. Think positively but find a balance between positivity and negativity. Reading social media humble-braggers outline how they made a homeless person's week in a McDonalds drive-through won’t help you find work. Neither will listening to negative people complaining all day. Strike a balance between the two. Read positive articles. Speak with positive people.

You've got this

There are a few more tips I could share. I understand if you’re feeling helpless, you may also be feeling a little overwhelmed right now. Don't be.

Being on the job market is tough. You want people to respond to you. Accept the fact it isn’t going to happen 8 times out of 10 - and put the above 7 tips into practice.

Once you’ve looked at ways of helping yourself, you’ll destroy your helplessness.

I wish you luck in your search for employment - a search that just got shorter.

What's next?

  1. Hit a glass ceiling at work or you no longer feel part of something? Maybe it’s time to look for a better job?

  2. Finding it tough to attract high-performing people (those not applying to job ads) to your business?

  3. Neither, however, I’m happy to sign up with 600+ people and be kept posted with meaningful employment insights.

Inverse Energy is a recruitment / search consultancy based in Perth, Western Australia with a focus on mid to senior management and leadership jobs across the energy, mining, infrastructure and defence sectors - worked on a retained or exclusive basis.