Caring less will reduce your job search stress. In other words, the less you give a damn, the happier you are

Nick KossovanThe Greek Stoic philosopher Hecato once said: “Cease to hope, and you will cease to fear.”

You would be hard-pressed to think of an activity that combines hope and fear more messily than job hunting. Anyone who has ever searched for a job knows what it feels like to hope for a particular job while fearing not getting it. It is this tussle between hope and fear that causes job search stress.

Paradoxically, when you are hoping something good will happen (securing the job you want), you are also afraid that something good will not happen (you will not get the job).

Although rejection is inevitable when job searching, it is hard not to feel deflated when it occurs and not take it personally. It is fear of rejection that prevents people from pursuing their dream job at their dream company, earning their dream income.

Job-search stress
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This fear can be overcome by letting go of your attachment to the outcome by caring less!

The advice I am about to give you comes from the years of personal experience it took me to finally realize that while job searching, a mental state of detachment is the best state to be in.

In other words, the less you give a damn, the happier you are.

Your brain and the quality of your thoughts are the only things you can control. Therefore, stop caring about things that are outside your control. Let employers do their “hiring process,” which, as I have pointed out in previous columns, they own, not you. Que sera, sera. Do your best and stop fretting over what you cannot control. (e.g., biases, hiring process length, being ghosted, the employer will not meet your compensation ask)

If you let fear override your confidence, you risk coming across as desperate, which repels hiring managers.

Job seekers commonly fall victim to the scarcity mindset, which is based on the belief that there are limited jobs and few opportunities.

Another common trap is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by equating rejection with self-worth. The less confident you feel, the more self-doubt creeps in, tempting you to lower your standards. Every day throughout the corporate world, the best and most qualified candidates are rejected for infinite reasons beyond their control. When you do not care, you shrug your shoulders and move on.

An effective way to develop a positive mindset is to list your accomplishments and why you would make a fantastic hire; call it your “brag list.” There are many things you can include on your list: projects you worked on, measurable results you have achieved, your character traits (e.g., resourcefulness, creativity, curiosity) and being in optimal health.

Building confidence is not the only reason to write a brag list – it will assist you in recollecting past accomplishments, which you can create STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) stories around for your interviews.

A critical step in building and maintaining a confident, detached mindset for your job search is practicing more positive self-talk. Instead of asking yourself, “What is the worst that can happen?” ask yourself, “What is the best that can happen?” Train your brain to come from a place of empowerment versus anxiousness.

Your job hunt should not be an all-consuming activity that occupies you mentally and physically 24/7. I have met more than my fair share of job seekers obsessing over their job search, which is counterproductive. Effective job seekers set healthy job search boundaries, such as only conducting job search activities between 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, having a relaxing lunch every day, reconnecting with family and friends and engaging in hobbies and leisure activities now that they have the time to do so.

I perform best when energized and enjoying my life; that is when everything seems to come together. It is your choice whether to refresh your inbox every five minutes, anxiously anticipating a reply to an email you sent, or go for a walk with a friend or your partner and be pleasantly surprised when you return to find a response.

Not only will caring less about the outcome of your job search help you become a more confident, attractive candidate – it will also relieve some of the pressure to be the perfect candidate, which, believe it or not, can open the door to opportunities.

Job seekers often tell me how much time and energy they spend writing the perfect application, only to hear nothing back. A detached mindset allows you to trust that you have given your best effort, even if it is not perfect, and use the energy you saved by not trying to be perfect for focusing on more worthwhile tasks, such as reaching out to people you wish to network with, looking at different job boards, or just relaxing with a book and coffee.

By caring less, you let go of some self-destructive beliefs – limiting beliefs that can sabotage your job search and free up time to consider paths you might not have before; this is when the best opportunities present themselves.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job.

For interview requests, click here.

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