Beat Back Job Search Fears

Focus on the opportunity your job search presents. Examine your interests, passions and goals and imagine a more fulfilling future.

Jolanta Jonaszko
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pensive woman looking out the window

Fear is a natural reaction when transitioning from one job to another. But when compounded by other external disruptive factors outside of one’s control, for some job seekers, “What if I never work again?” is the panicked question that may spring to mind—usually after waking with a start in the early hours of the morning. In the broad light of day, most people recognize such fears are extreme. Fear, however, remains a deviously creative demon that may assert itself in more unconscious ways at different stages of the job search process. The danger is that fears that remain unrecognized and unaddressed may hold you back.

As a practicing outplacement coach, I pay particular attention to the things people say. If clients tell me that, no, they haven’t sent out their résumé because they’re still checking details, I immediately suspect that a fear of rejection may be at work. Saying they’ve never had to ask for help before may be a sign they fear the social stigma associated with unemployment. Are they fixating on all the years they’ve worked with their previous employer or on particular career decisions they made during those years? They may be in the grip of fears about the future or about a loss of status. People involved in job searches should, of course, be getting their résumés out quickly, should be connecting with their network and should avoid wasting time focusing unduly on the past (learn what lessons there are to learn and move on).

My advice to job candidates is to be vigilant. Recognize that fear is a natural part of life and learn to detect how your own fears may be at play. Reflecting on how you talk to others and even to yourself about your thoughts and actions can yield valuable insights into the subconscious or unconscious fears that may be impeding your progress. Becoming conscious of your fears is the necessary step to confronting them. But confronting them is not enough. You need to take a second step and neutralize your fears. Focus on the opportunity your job search presents. Examine your interests, passions and goals and imagine a more fulfilling future. Here’s where you will find the courage to overcome your fears and succeed.

About the Author

Jolanta Jonaszko holds a Bachelor degree in Modern Languages and Literature from Oxford University and a Master Degree in European and Russian Studies from Yale University. After graduation, she worked in a communication consultancy IFOK specializing in the design and facilitation of dialogue processes, among others for the German government. Since 2014, Jolanta has worked as a senior consultant at LHH focusing on career transition, change and talent management. Her debut memoir, “Without Grandpa,” was published in 2018 in Poland and received outstanding reviews. Jolanta is currently working on a new book, “Miniatures of Change,” which shares poignant stories from her work helping people through job loss. Connect with Jolanta on LinkedIn.

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