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Why You’re Avoiding Your Job Search

Yes, your brain is sabotaging you...

by Janna Kefalas in Interviews, Job Search, LinkedIn, Networking, Resumes

We have the best of intentions when it comes to job searching. We know we should be working on our resume and LinkedIn profile.

We’re well aware we need to go to that networking event or do more research on prospective companies. And it’s clear we should rehearse those common interview questions.

We even set aside a block of time…we write it in our calendar…let everyone know not to disturb us. But when the time comes…we just can’t bring ourselves to do it!

Everything else seems so much more interesting. There’s that new Netflix show everyone’s talking about. Or our cousin just posted some amazing photos of her Italy vacation that we HAVE to comment on pronto. And look at that…our bathroom really needs a good cleaning.

Before you know it, the hours have passed, and now it’s time to pick up the kids, or make dinner, or meet friends for a movie.

Our heart is in the right place. We truly do want a new job. So why can’t we get ourselves in gear??

The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with us. We’re not hopelessly lazy or incompetent. And we’re DEFINITELY not alone in this.

So what’s the deal?

We can blame our brain. It’s just trying to protect us and keep us safe.

There was a time — ions ago — when we needed to avoid real danger, like a hungry lion or a freezing night. Our brain also dissuaded us from taking unnecessary risks that could lead to social rejection. (After all, getting kicked out of the cave could mean a swift, painful death.)

But today our brain hasn’t quite caught up with the times. It still perceives failure, rejection, and humiliation as lethal. It equates reaching out to someone on LinkedIn or going to an interview with facing that hungry lion.  

Our brain would rather we play it safe and stay comfortable. You know, like spending the afternoon on Facebook. It’s just looking out for our survival, after all.

So every time we approach a “risky” activity, like applying for a job, our brain shoots us little messages:

“Too hard! Too scary! Too time consuming! You probably won’t get it anyway! “Go back to Facebook…”

We probably aren’t even aware of this conversation happening in our head. It’s mostly unconscious. All we know is that the hours pass, and we’ve done nothing toward our job search. And we can’t figure out why. We think there must be something wrong with us.

So what’s the answer?

We obviously can’t instantly rewire our brain. And we can’t undo millions of years of conditioning. But there are things we CAN do.

Merely having this awareness will make us feel more, well…normal. We won’t beat ourselves up every time we want to avoid job search activities.

When we get those little messages, we’ll say, “Thanks, brain!  Thanks for trying to keep me safe and avoid doing anything too scary. But guess what, no one has ever died from job searching!”

Rejection, frustration, humiliation, dealing with the unknown — these are all emotions that aren’t very pleasant.

But they’re all part of a job search…  

Any time we make a big change and put ourselves out there, we’re likely to experience them. It’s just the name of the game.

The key is getting comfortable with these unpleasant emotions and not letting our brain overreact to them. After all, they’re only temporary.

Because guess what other emotions we’re likely to feel?

Pride, enthusiasm, joy, and satisfaction when we make HUGE strides in our job hunt and ultimately land that great new position.

And that makes it all worth it.