Amusement park rides offer summertime thrills, but one ride that most job seekers want to avoid is the rollercoaster. Chugging inexorably up the incline, diving head first into the descent, waving hands wildly in the air, and experiencing the thrill of living on the edge appeals to riders of all ages. The ride ends with your heart pounding, your palms sweating, and a triumphant feeling of accomplishment and survival.
Families wait all year for the amusement park to open, and children cross their fingers that this will be the summer they’re finally tall enough to ride. While everyone else clamors to get in line for their favorite rollercoaster ride, riders on the job-seeking rollercoaster look for an emergency brake to pull and an exit sign…desperately looking for a way to end the intense and highly emotional job-seeking ride.
Many job seekers describe the tedious and not-so-fun task of looking for a job as a horrible rollercoaster ride. It’s not necessarily the job search process itself that evokes such a strong reaction, but the emotional highs and lows associated with the process. The endless waiting for the hiring manager to return a voicemail or email, the broken promises of when the interviewing process will start, and the blindsided rejection when the final offer extends to someone else. It’s a painful and tumultuous combination of eternal hopefulness and heartbreaking disappointment.
This emotional and exhausting experience can extend the length of a job search and can cause job seekers to abandon their search altogether. The biggest question is how to keep the stomach-dropping rollercoaster ride sensation to a minimum while keeping a job search going at full speed.
Here are three strategies to help keep your job search from turning into a wild ride.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket.
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is hyper-focusing on a single job opportunity and ignoring all other opportunities. That absolutist strategy magnifies the opportunity and it becomes an all-or-nothing proposition, a do-or-die situation. Hours are spent researching, preparing, and visualizing yourself sitting in that dream office performing that dream job…that’s the exciting ascent of the rollercoaster ride. The only way to counterbalance the potential descent into disappointment is by pursuing multiple opportunities simultaneously. Then, if the “dream job” doesn’t pan out, other opportunities divert the job seeker from wallowing in the devastating and sometimes debilitating disappointment. The job seeker is forced to recover much faster and to prepare for the next opportunity. Keeping the job search on a more even keel is the ideal approach to a successful job search.
Another advantage of pursuing multiple opportunities simultaneously is having a basis of comparison. It’s critical for job seekers to shop around and to generate a comprehensive list of pros and cons for each opportunity. Realistic comparisons ensure that a single opportunity doesn’t unrealistically start to look perfect. Every job has downsides and tradeoffs. It’s the same reason why most people don’t buy the first house they see. They shop around and compare the features and benefits of several homes before making a final decision. One home – or job – still may emerge as the front-runner and create an emotional investment in the outcome, but knowing that the second and third options also have value helps to lessen the disappointment if the first opportunity doesn’t come to fruition. Recognizing that there are plenty of fantastic fish in the sea keeps the job search moving forward.
Interviewing Is a Two-Way Street.
Most job seekers are a bundle of nerves walking into an interview and are convinced that all the power lies solely with the hiring manager. There is a tape looping in their head that says, “Pick me, pick me, I hope you pick me, please pick me,” and it plays over and over again. It’s that same anticipation that grows and peaks at the start of a rollercoaster ride, coupled with the feeling that the rest of the experience is completely out of your control. The only way to minimize those uncomfortable and nauseating feelings is by truly believing that you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. Every job seeker wants to impress the hiring manager with the hopes of receiving a job offer, but the job seeker also needs to be impressed. Does the opportunity and organization live up to your standards? Is this boss someone you could work with for the next 5 years? Enter the interview with a mindset combining “should I pick you?” with “please pick me!” and the ride will be a lot less intimidating.
Understand all your options, comparison shop, and balance your interviewing mindset and the bumps and jolts of the job-seeking ride will smooth out. While it’s impossible to completely eliminate the job-search rollercoaster sensation, implement a few new strategies and you can at least find a way to let go of the bar and enjoy the ride.