Everyone looks at the world through different filters based on their upbringing, environment, experience, and attitude. The victim mentality is one of those unfortunate lenses that even experienced professionals sometimes play into when searching for a job.
When you’re on a job hunt, don’t chase your tail by giving in to victim mentalities. Outside circumstances work against you. Layoffs happen. You mess up on the job. You need to gain more skills. No positions are open. It’s typically a mixed bag of happenings that land you where you are now, and it doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough or that there are no opportunities to be had.
You need to recast yourself as the hero of your career journey, while remaining honest with yourself, and lead your job search in a positive and proactive direction. Realize that you can take charge of your career journey, rather than playing into these six victim mentalities.
1. Rejected too many times
Victim Mentality: “Everywhere I’ve applied turned me down. No one wants me.”
Rejection stings and too much rejection can make you feel like giving up. It’s easier to give up on the job hunt. Think of it from the perspective of a fisherman. Being out in the hot sun with only so much food, energy and bait can wear you down after a while. When your resources drain, it’s common to reach a burnout point. Leave the line in as you fish for your job, but take it easy on yourself. Focus on taking care of your mind, heart and body.
You may rest more easily knowing that only 2% of applicants get an interview, and remember to apply for the job as it’s outlined. Your career objective should match the role.
2. Not good enough
Victim Mentality: “My experience and education aren’t good enough for this role.”
People typically dislike uncertainty. So, they shortchange themselves instead of facing change and risk.
Counteract negative self-talk by focusing on times when you excelled, exceeded expectations and were more than good enough. Challenge your inner bully by laughing and probing the suggested illogical fallacies by asking a question like “What evidence do I have for and against this?”
3. The bad apple
Victim Mentality: “I’ve been laid off or fired too many times. No one will hire me.”
Folks say that one bad apple will turn the whole batch, rotting every good apple around. That’s simple oxidation. It’s not the apple’s fault. Consider the circumstances, and be honest with yourself. If you were previously late to work, and that’s a part of why you were laid off or terminated, focus on how you that experience helped you grow as a professional. Perhaps, you freed up stress from your life and developed a bedtime ritual before going to sleep, which signals your body that it’s time to sleep.
Polish your resume, and prepare yourself to tell the positive side of the story. Explain how you arrived at a solution and what you decided to do with your time.
Look at times when you walked away because your expectations differed from an employer’s expectations. You changed the situation by redirecting your energies. Many people wait too long to leave a job when they’re unhappy and get fired in the end. Was that you?
4. Taking whatever comes
Victim Mentality: “I must take whatever job offers I get, even if they treat me poorly or pay me poorly. That’s the way of it, and I have to consider myself fortunate.”
Too many people work too hard, without recognition, only to burn out. When they leave a toxic work environment, they’re likely to enter another one if they don’t stop the pattern in advance. Weigh the pros and cons. Accepting poor treatment, unfair wages and inadequate benefits devalues you as a person and a professional. Does it get you where you want to be five years from now? Instead of counting yourself “lucky,” aim for companies that genuinely value their team members. Read employee reviews. Research the companies. Find out if you’re a fit, and the results will be better for everyone involved.
If a potential employer offers you low pay, counter with a better but fair wage, and be prepared to explain why they should take you up on the counteroffer. Look at your needs, and come to the table with confidence in your skills. If the company isn’t wealthy, counter with alternatives they can afford, such as flextime that allows you to work from home on certain days.
5. Lack of appreciation
Victim Mentality: “No one appreciates my accomplishments or talents.”
Too much rejection and feeling invisible at previous jobs makes you feel unappreciated and undervalued as a professional. You spent time and money to develop your education and experience, and your accomplishments and talents are a reflection of that.
You reach a point where you realize it’s time to move on, but consider this: Did you speak up for yourself?
You put your nose to the grindstone, sacrificing your time and talents, but you need to practice self-respect as a professional. You can say “no” with grace and say “yes” with confidence when you only agree to take on tasks that are truly worthwhile and reasonable. Ask for feedback. Reward yourself. Toot your horn on paper and in person, ask for what you deserve and trust that you’ll find the right fit when you keep speaking up for yourself.
6. Dry desert
Victim Mentality: “No one is hiring. It’s a desert out there.”
How big is the job pool you’re fishing in again? Give yourself a reality check and get creative if statistics support your claim of a desert marketplace. Deserts are dry, yes, but dwelling on that fact won’t help you in your job search.
Turn to other job boards. Get on social media, and search for open roles with relevant hashtags. Reach out to your networks from college and professional associations. Get creative and consider career path alternatives, such as other industries or running your own business as a consultant or freelancer.
Experts expect freelancers to make up 34% of the “gig” economy by 2020, and that doesn’t mean self-employed professionals live off of pennies. Many successfully leverage their skills and experience in a niche market for a living wage.
Don’t fall into these victim mentality traps, or you will stay stuck and never find the right fit. Know that you deserve better. Take action to shift the negative narrative, and become a career hero.
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