4 indisputable signs you have career paralysis

Paralysis, by definition, is the loss of the ability to move or function. Job search paralysis refers to the phenomenon that occurs when you apply or search for jobs, yet nothing ever happens. 

Whether it’s scrolling through Facebook, checking the highlights from the game the night before, or “Tweaking” your resume, there are clear indicators as to whether or not you may have a case of ‘Job Search Paralysis.’

Put another way, if you have been telling yourself you are looking for a new job, but things keep coming up, there is a high chance you may also be exhibiting some of these all too common signs of avoiding the job search!

Today, we will look into the clear indicators you may have a case of job search paralysis and whats to counter it if so!  

1. You constantly make excuses

Searching for a new job and filling out countless applications isn’t the most glamorous thing we can do with our time. Still, if you really begin to assess the situation, chances are you’re likely making excuses, not solutions. 

Whether you have been saying for months, you will look for a new job, or you always have a reason why you’re waiting, recognize that if you have expressed the desire to search for a new job and you haven’t – you might be making some excuses. 

The common excuses like time, lack of energy, and not knowing where to start are most likely preventing you from your own happiness if you’re in a current work situation that is not ideal. Instead of making excuses, flip your mindset, and start telling yourself WHY you need to search for a new job. 

How to counter this: 

Watch what you tell yourself. 

If you tell yourself things like, “I don’t have the time,” or “I can’t find the motivation to search for a new job,” chances are you will never make the time or have the motivation. 

Psychology matters when it comes to countering a behavior. When you want to overcome your job search paralysis, you need to be aware of what you’re telling yourself and the excuses you’re making for yourself. 

To help, try the Mel Robbins “5-Second Rule.” When you find yourself telling yourself, you can’t search for a job, count down from five… 5…4…3…2…1 and tell yourself you will search for a job and do it right then!

Search for a job and email it yourself! Now you’re creating solutions, not excuses! 

2. You avoid sitting down and actually searching/applying 

After you get over the emotional rollercoaster and feelings of thinking about a new job, sometimes the job search isn’t conducted properly because other things keep “Popping up.”

Whether it’s the kid’s sports practices, household chores, the gym – you name it – there are a million things we feel like we have to do. Heck, even current job responsibilities can get in the way of a new job search. 

All this to say, whether or not it’s a valid reason for actually not sitting down and looking for jobs if you’re serious about a new job, your actions should line up. Don’t avoid the most important aspect of job searching – actually searching for a job! 

How to counter this: 

Make an appointment with yourself!

When you make an appointment to go to the doctor’s, DMV, or take your kid to a party, you won’t’ miss it. Do this with your job search!

Take out your phone or planner and write down a one hour window several times a week to do nothing but apply for your jobs! Blocking your calendar out for your job search should be a top priority if you’re serious about a new job. And with any priority, it’s best to schedule it! 

Remember, the laundry can wait, the dishes can wait, and your favorite Netflix series will still be there after applying. 

3. You scroll social media instead of applying to jobs 

After overcoming your resistance to actually sitting down to apply and search for a new job, the next step is doing your best to avoid the rabbit hole of the internet.

Spending your precious time scrolling Facebook, liking things on Pinterest, and watching YouTube clips isn’t a good use of time. We call it entertaining or sometimes a distraction, but really when you’re supposed to be applying/searching for jobs, it’s a form of procrastination. 

Unfortunately, we don’t even mean to go down a social media rabbit hole or check email for 20 minutes, but it happens, especially when we are not aware. 

How to counter this: 

There is a very high likelihood that you don’t want to scroll social media or watch videos, but something in our subconscious mind triggers us to do just that. 

Called a habit loop, whenever we sit at our computer and automatically check email or Facebook, we create habit loops on autopilot. To counter this phenomenon, do the following: 

  1. Use a private web browser that had no passwords saved or browsing history
  2. Use an application/extension that blocks certain websites during certain times
  3. Keep your phone in another room when searching for jobs
  4. Only use the one browser tab, make notes in a notebook
  5. Make a list, then apply. Don’t search and apply, search, and apply. 

4. You are waiting for the “Perfect” fit & resume

Like sign number one, making excuses, but deserving of its own explanation, the perfect fit mentality is perhaps one of the number reasons you haven’t applied to a job in some time, let alone searched for a new one. 

Those who identify as perfectionists tend to exhibit characteristics of overthinking things, spending too much time on tasks, and controlling the controllable. And while taking things seriously and producing high-quality work is one thing, the downside of the perfection mindset is that it can lead to paralysis by analysis. 

Overthinking can hurt your ability to take action. Many perfectionists struggle with the action piece of making things happen. And the key to looking for a new job is simply taking enough action to put the numbers in your favor.

How to counter this: 

When you think about this logically, it’s better to go through the quantity to find the quality instead of just waiting for it to fall on your lap. 

Like how companies want to vet and hire the best employees, you should want to find the best fit for your expertise, salary, and needs. However, you will have to put the numbers in your favor to increase your odds. 

To do this, using the tips from number two above, when you sit down to look for jobs, have a goal as to how big you want to make your list. Perhaps every time you sit down, you would like to add five possible jobs to your growing list!