How to Banish Fear From Your Job Search

Dry mouth. Shaky knees. Sweaty palms. Butterflies in your stomach. They’re all a part of your job search. And, nobody can really blame you. There’s definitely a fair share of fear, stress, and anxiety that come along with hunting for a new gig. With endless applications, the anticipation of rejection, and—gasp!—those daunting interviews, an element of fear in your job search is understandable.

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However, the important part is to not let that uncertainty and intimidation slow you down. You need to continue to power through and stay positive, despite that nauseous feeling that creeps in every now and then.

But, how? How can you stifle those fearful feelings and keep moving forward? After all, that’s the tough part, right? Yes, ignoring the knots in your stomach and those pesky thoughts of self-doubt can be a challenge. But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Put these four tips to use, and you’ll be sure to banish fear from your job search—or, at the very least, diminish it!

1. Understand What You’re Afraid Of

It’s hard to fix a problem until you identify exactly what it is. And, unfortunately, there can be a ton of different fears related to the job search process. Perhaps you’re terrified of saying something ridiculous in an interview. Or, maybe you’re intimidated by putting yourself out there for new, challenging opportunities. Perhaps even the mere thought of rejection is enough to have you shaking in your boots.

Take some time to think through what exact parts of your job search have you feeling anxious and afraid. Then, once you’ve identified the root problem, you’ll be able to take steps to resolve the issue.

2. Be Overly Prepared

It’s amazing how many of our fears are rooted in being underprepared. Not being able to answer an interview question correctly, getting lost on your way to the office, or even sending in a cover letter with the wrong company name—they’re all a result of disorganization and a lack of preparation.

What’s a surefire way to fix this? Well, you not only want to aim to be prepared—you want to be over-prepared. Begin researching that company early on and rehearse your interview answers with a close friend. Drive the route to the office the day before your interview to confirm you know exactly where you’re going. Make a point of triple-checking every single document before ever hitting “send.”

Taking the time to keep yourself organized and on top of every single element of your job search can instill a great deal of confidence. So, put in the extra legwork and be amazed at the difference it can make in your attitude and outlook!

3. Imagine Worst-Case Scenarios

Have you ever heard of exposure therapy? Basically, it means exposing yourself to the thing you’re afraid of over and over again—until you become so used to it that you’re no longer scared of it. And, while you definitely don’t want to go to one irrelevant interview after the next in the interest of getting yourself used to those awkward situations, this concept can definitely be applied in a different way.

Sit down and think about your job search worst-case scenarios. Maybe you don’t land that job you desperately wanted. Perhaps you totally flub an answer in an interview. Or, maybe you spill your steaming mug of coffee all over the front of the interviewer’s suitcoat.

Whatever it is—let that scenario play out in your head over and over again. Then, ask yourself what’s the worst thing that could possibly result from that situation actually happening. Chances are, it just means you don’t land the job—which means you’ve really lost nothing. You’re no worse off than when you started (aside from a bit of a bruised ego). Even if all of your worst-case scenarios actually come to fruition, the world doesn’t actually crumble around you. You can take a little bit of comfort in that.

4. Relax

I know, this is likely cliché advice that you’re rolling your eyes at right now. But, it truly is an important piece of the puzzle. In the end, it’s up to you to just take a deep breath and relax. Those frazzled nerves and anxious thoughts won’t do you any favors in the long run, so do what you need to do in order to help yourself decompress and unwind.

Try a few quick breathing exercises. Go for a long walk. Or, read through your LinkedIn recommendations for a quick confidence boost. Whatever works for you is just fine. The important part is to stop those snowballing thoughts and give yourself a little peace of mind.

Job hunting is stressful. So, nobody can really fault you for that nervous pit in your stomach you feel every time you even so much as think about submitting another application. However, you can’t let your fear stop you in your tracks. You need to continue making forward progress, despite what that little voice of self-doubt in your head is screaming. Put these four tips into action, and you’re sure to squelch those fearful feelings!

Written by

Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer covering topics related to careers, self-development, and entrepreneurship. Her byline has appeared in numerous outlets and publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, QuickBooks, Business Insider, and more. Find out more about her on her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

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