Ask anyone about their experience searching for a job, and it probably won’t be too positive. It’s often a frustrating experience, filled with confusion, rejections, and setbacks. Part of what makes it so is that,
“job-seekers usually get little to no feedback on the steps they take other than rejections,”
(as cited in Kreemers & Hooft, 2017).
Whether you get ghosted by a recruiter or get no explanation as to why you weren’t selected after an interview, hunting for a job can take a real hit on your confidence.
For those who have had negative experiences with job hunting, it may seem obvious that it can have a negative effect on mental health, and in fact, there is research to back this up. In a meta-analytical study which examined data from a number of independent studies on the subject, their findings indicated that **mental health worsens with increasing job search effort **(as cited in Kreemers & Hooft, 2017).
It’s clear that job hunting is stressful, but if you need to land a job, it’s a necessary process. Besides practical strategies like knowing how to cold-message or fix up your resume, knowing how to cope with difficult emotions that can come up is equally, if not more, important.
The reality is that you will probably have to search for a job more than once in your life. In this article, we’ll discuss findings from a few studies from the field of psychology that examined how different types of mindsets can help make the job hunt feel less miserable.
What does it mean to have a self-compassionate mindset?
- Being kind to yourself in instances of failure—this means not judging yourself for your failures, but rather seeing a failure as an opportunity to improve from.
- Perceiving your experiences as part of the larger human experience—this means reminding yourself of the big picture—your job search won’t be forever, even if it feels that way.
- Holding painful feelings in mindful awareness—this means not ignoring the feelings that can come up when facing difficulties, and taking time to take care of yourself.
How does a self-compassionate mindset help with the difficulties of job searching?
- Reduces negative feelings associated with job search setbacks (self-criticism, lower self-worth, anxiety, and rumination)
- Positive feelings are not as dampened by setbacks—in other words, the challenges you face won’t bring you down as badly
- Feeling a lack of progress in your job search doesn’t bring on negative feelings
Learning Goal Orientation Mindset
What does it mean to have a learning goal orientation mindset?
- Being driven by your development of skills and mastering something new
- Being more persistent
- Learning from your failure and changing strategies
How does a learning goal orientation mindset help with the difficulties of job searching?
- Reduces negative feelings with a high activation level—feelings like distress, nerves, frustration, and jitteriness
Challenge Appraisal Mindset
What does it mean to have a challenge appraisal mindset?
- Feeling confident that you can overcome the demands of stressful situations with some effort
- Viewing stressful situations as a challenge instead of a threat
How does a challenge appraisal mindset help with the difficulties of job searching?
- Reduces negative feelings with a low activation level—feelings like being down, sad, or disappointed
No matter how your job hunt is going or how it’s making you feel, we hope that these mindset shifts can make the experience less stressful. Remember to be kind to yourself and don’t let the setbacks get you down. In this job market, resilience and self compassion will be your greatest tools.
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Kreemers, Loes & Hooft, Edwin. (2017). Dealing with Negative Job Search Experiences with Adaptive Mindsets. Academy of Management Proceedings. 2017. 13954. 10.5465/AMBPP.2017.255.