Here’s how to bounce back from a bad day on the job hunt.
It all went so wrong, so very, very wrong — right from the start.
You left your notepad with your hand-written questions at home; your CEO pulled you into a last-second meeting that made you a half-hour late to the interview; and you finished it off by saying “I think my background and experience make me uniquely suited to making a big contribution here at Avis,” which was a good point, except you were interviewing at Hertz.
You had a bad day in the job hunt. A really bad one. You feel embarrassed, and you’re starting to wonder if anybody is ever going to be foolish enough to hire you.
It happens to all of us.
I know what it’s like to completely and utterly bomb the interview — the humiliation and the self-doubt and the worry that you’re never going to find a new job because maybe, just maybe, you don’t really deserve one.
And I know the anxiety that causes you to question yourself and feel like the whole system is designed to frustrate and defeat you.
And I’d like to tell you that it’s easy to just brush it off and get back up and get going again.
But it’s not.
Because while goof-ups are a natural part of the process anytime we’re trying to do something new — a new golf swing, a new sport, or finding a new job — and we should just take them in stride, that’s one of those things that is easier said than done.
In the job hunt, we feel that too much is at stake, there’s too much on the line, for us to just shake it off.
And that’s the problem.
At Ladders, we spend a lot of time and effort studying the best ways to help you get into your next job as quickly and painlessly as possible. As a matter of fact, we’ve funded research from the top academics in the field who study the job hunt on what makes somebody successful.
And one of the first things we’ve discovered is this sad fact:
The day after a “bad” day, the average job-seeker only does half as much for their job hunt as they normally do. They only send out half as many resumes, make half as many calls, and do half as much research as they normally do.
It’s understandable. You’re embarrassed, you’re feeling foolish, you’re having doubts about your abilities. All because of that bad day.
Shakespeare, as usual, may have said it best:
Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.
Our doubts are traitors, indeed. They sit there on your shoulder, bend your ear, and whisper negative thoughts into your head. Which is a shame, because that same research shows there is a direct correlation between activity in the job hunt and finding your next job. So in a way, the little trolls whispering negative things in your ear are directly undermining your chances of success.
Of course, cutting your effort in half the day after a bad day is absolutely 180 degrees opposed to the advice you’d give to somebody you care about when they are facing a similar situation.
The day after your daughter falls off her bike while she’s learning to ride without training wheels, you don’t tell her to try only half as hard today.
And when your college buddy, who needs to drop more than a few pounds, blows his diet at Outback Steakhouse with the Bloomin’ Onion, the 22-ounce Porterhouse and that enormous Chocolate Thunder from Down Under®, you don’t tell him it’s OK to only try half as hard to stick to the diet today.
No, you tell the people you care about that the past is the past, and today is a new day, and they should do something new with it.
So here’s the good news. While the average job-seeker only puts half as much effort into their job hunt the day after a bad day, it’s important for you to remember:
You can decide you’re not average.
You can decide that that’s not enough for you.
You can decide, right now, that you’ll spend twice the 15 minutes or 30 minutes you were planning on spending today.
It’s often said that finding a job is a job in itself.
If that’s the case, why shouldn’t you treat a bad day on the job hunt the way you’d treat a bad day at the office? When the big sale is slipping away, or the budget is late, or the database crashed, or the agency hasn’t turned around the work on time, you don’t sit back. You leap into action.
And that sense of competence in overcoming the day-to-day problems of your job is the same sense of capability and effectiveness you’ll want to bring to your job hunt.
The day after a bad day… especially the day after you’ve really, totally, completely blown it… treat it just like you would any challenge you face in business. Don’t cut your effort in half… Double it.
What I can tell you from 15 years experience in this business is that you will find your next great role in life. Sometimes the road is long, and winding, and twisted, and the destination feels like it is forever just out of sight, but from watching literally millions of members here at Ladders land their next job, I can tell you that you, too, will find yours.