When you’re working hard to find a new job, it makes sense that you’d want to give it your all. But sometimes, without meaning to, you can inadvertently sabotage your own success. Here are 5 pitfalls to watch out for and guard against.
#1 – You Listen to Others When You Shouldn’t
While there’s nothing wrong with listening to others, especially when it’s helpful, you do have to be wary of listening to the wrong influences. Because when you do that, you can end up making mistakes that can sabotage what you’re working so hard to accomplish.
The words of other people can help propel you forward or can hurt your belief in yourself and in the career goals you’re pursuing. One way that you sabotage yourself is by listening to people who don’t really understand your career and the goals you are working toward.
When you seek advice about your career or job search from someone not in your industry or field, or who doesn’t have an up-to-date understanding of the job market and what is expected in it, they may try to be helpful with advice, but that advice could potentially do more harm than good.
If you follow their advice, you could end up hurting your job search. For example, a friend might tell you that all you must do is watch for and apply for job listings you see on the internet. In reality, in the current employment market, that is the LEAST effective job search technique. You would have received much more accurate and helpful advice from a job search coach.
You should also be careful about listening to others when they haven’t had the success that you want.
Seek advice from those who have achieved career goals similar to what you are pursuing – not from the friend who never seems to achieve any of his career goals.
It’s always best to listen to others who are where you want to be. They’ve walked the path, they’ve figured out what works, and they’re making success happen.
Don’t listen to people who aren’t supportive of you or your dreams.
These people may even be well-meaning and think they know what’s best for you, but all it does is discourage you when you’re looking for advice or support and you come away feeling depressed.
There will always be those who are positive and see even obstacles or problems as opportunities. You want to listen to them because their enthusiasm is contagious.
By the same token, people who are negative will always point out the worst-case scenario. They’ll tell you why your career change goals are an awful idea and when you listen to them, you’ll find your own mind steeped in negativity.
#2 – You Live in the Past
Everyone has failures in his or her past. Maybe you were once fired from a job. Or maybe you took a job you knew wasn’t right for you and then failed to meet the expectations, quitting yourself before you got fired.
It’s just the way life is. There’s no such thing as the perfect person. Experiencing failures isn’t a problem unless you allow them to be by living in the past.
Although calling it the “past” is misleading if you’re presently living in it. It’s actually your past-present. You keep the failures you’ve had at the back of your mind and whenever you’re trying to do something with your life and career, they’ll pop up and start playing repeatedly like a bad movie, preventing you from achieving job search success.
But why do so many people keep living in the past, even knowing that’s what holds them back? It’s because past failures keep you safe. They’re a haven. A comfort zone.
These familiar failures are reminders that are trying to make you believe that you’re better off exactly where you are. The reminders are your mind’s way of trying to persuade you to stay in your current job instead of stretching for that promotion you would love so you won’t get hurt. Holding on to past failures continuously reminds you that trying again is scary.
Memories of past failures crowd your mind, eager to prove to you that attempting a new thing with your career isn’t a good idea. They’ll impact your mindset, turning your hope and belief into doubt until the ideas you wanted to try wither away.
You’ll decide that the memories of failures are right. Who do you think you are to keep trying? You’ll never have job search success anyhow, you tell yourself.
Living in the past is replaying your failures so you don’t have to try again. It’s a form of self-sabotage that’s designed to keep you comfortable.
But the truth is that you’ll never truly be comfortable not doing what you were meant to do or not reaching the career heights you desire.
You live in the past by letting your failures become your identity. You accept the past failure as the truth. This kind of thinking leads many people to reframe who they are. Someone who froze in a stressful job interview might identify that failure by internalizing the belief, “I’m not good at interviewing.”
Living in the past allows you to create excuses for why something doesn’t work. Living in the past, looking at what you tried that failed, erodes your self-confidence. As you’re looking back, doubts multiply.
You’ll start to think, “If I failed in that, how can I trust myself or my decisions with this?”
You can stand on the brink of breakthrough success but because you’re tethered to what happened in the past, the weight of that never lets you fly.
Living in the past is one of the worst kinds of sabotage you allow. Because the past is always over and done with it. But by living in it, you constantly breathe new life into it. If you let it go, taking only the lessons that you learned from the experience, you’ll be able to move on – possibly to even greater success than you could have dreamed.
#3 – You Aren’t Consistent
You can sabotage your success when you’re not consistent. Your career decisions and goals constantly swing from one direction to the next. You have difficulty sticking with something until you achieve it.
People who aren’t consistent often get caught up in the shiny new object or idea syndrome. They’re full speed ahead working on something. They believe at the time that this is what they need do and they’re sure it’s going to change their career or their lives.
They’re enthusiastic and excited. But then the next thing comes along and captures their attention. Now they’re no longer interested in what they were doing. They might get discouraged about what they were working on because this new thing seems better or easier.
The original enthusiasm and excitement transfers to the shiny new object or idea. All the while, you aren’t accomplishing the success that you’d like to have because your focus isn’t 100% solidified.
You’re not dedicated to a focused job search because your mood convinces you that everything is going to be okay, that it’ll all work out regardless of the effort you do or don’t put into it.
You can know this is an issue for you if you find yourself constantly creating excuses.
There’s not enough time to handle an important networking meeting, so you’ll spend time making a list instead. You change direction too easily, whether in action or in mood. You can’t find the right resources or tools, so you’ll stop working on what you have to get done and instead work on what “moves” you regardless of whether or not it moves your job search forward.
#4 – You Go to Extremes
Some people have a tendency to go to extremes.
People who go to extremes can be super focused, but because it can cause you to live a life out of balance, it can also lead to burnout.
If you fail at something, you’ll have the mindset that a failure is the end rather than putting it into perspective and easily moving on. When you live by extremes, you might have an all-or-nothing mindset, which leads to seeing every situation as black or white, with no middle ground.
This can become a cycle for how you live your personal life as well as how you conduct your job search and pursue career progression. You may become an overachiever. You’ll start setting impossible goals such as booking 50 networking meetings in a week when only one per day is realistic.
Giving in to your extreme tendencies can make you drive yourself harder than is physically or mentally safe. You’ll develop tunnel vision and become so focused on one thing that you completely miss other things that need your attention.
Going to the extreme works both ways. Some people go to the extreme of performance. Others go to the extreme of quitting. An extreme quitter mindset leads you to believe that if you can’t land at least 5 interviews in a week, you might as well quit.
Again, it’s that all-or-nothing thinking which can have trace elements of perfectionism or low self-confidence at its root. A person with extreme tendencies can be trying to “prove” themselves or trying to measure up to an impossible standard.
Or, they can have doubts about their abilities and going to the extreme is an attenpt to compensate for those doubts. Regardless of whether your extreme tendencies lead to trying to overachieve impossible goals or quitting, there is the same truth at the base of both.
You’re putting unrealistic expectations on yourself. On one hand, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. Like you’re invincible and you’re going to dominate at whatever it is that you’re attempting to do.
On the other hand you’ll feel afraid and vulnerable – maybe even like a failure because your desire for what you can or can’t accomplish isn’t based on real, achievable goals or expectations.
#5 – You Believe in Perfectionism
Someone who believes in perfectionism has a desire to do great things without flaw. They know where they’re going with every goal, they have a lot of talent, great ideas and yet struggle to take action steps.
One of the many causes of believing in perfectionism is a focus on the finished result. In the case of a job search: landing and being successful in your dream job. You see your job search as it should be when it’s completed rather than all the messy parts that go into executing it.
Because you see the polished end, the jumbled beginning is more difficult for you.
People who believe in perfectionism are often prone to comparing the beginning or middle of their efforts to someone else’s finished and polished creation. They see their own work as amateurish and others as professional. Perfectionists, for example, may get stuck creating their resume. It is never good enough and they never actually get around to using it, because they are endlessly tweaking it instead.
A belief in perfectionism often causes procrastination. Not because the perfectionist doesn’t have the means, time, or knowledge to achieve job search success, but because to them, the work is never done and never good enough.
These types of people will often find something to criticize about their own efforts. They work harder than most other people do, yet often have a smaller track record of accomplishments.
The mindset is often, “If my interviewing skills aren’t perfect, I won’t even begin a job search until they are.”
Perfectionism is rooted in self-doubt. Perfectionists aren’t really afraid that the finished product won’t be worthy, but that somehow they won’t be worthy of admiration for their efforts. We often see this in our resume writing practice, with clients who ask for endless changes and unnecessary tweaks to their resume and never actually get to using it.
A belief in perfectionism can cause you to struggle to get started with what you want to do. To overcome that, you can start in the middle. Begin networking first, for example, and then rewrite and update your resume.
Work out of order to do away with the “getting started” mental roadblock.
Another trigger for perfectionism is trying to compensate for something else. For example, working hard to be perfect in one area of your professional life because you feel like you’re failing in another.
Another trigger can be overestimating your abilities. You never feel confident because your perfectionism has given you no room to learn what you really need to know. You don’t let yourself experiment and fail and grow, which is essential to professional success.
If you are job searching and struggling with your search, honestly evaluate yourself to determine if any of these 5 major pitfalls could be the problem. Recognizing the problem is the first step to success, as once you recognize it, you can take the steps to rectify it and begin making real career progress.