High Level of Self-Management is Key to a Successful Job Search

We are all dealing with many challenges

Today we are all dealing with many challenges, from the COVID 19 pandemic, natural disasters such as forest fires and hurricanes, to rising tensions with racial injustice and political campaigns. These are all stressors on top of all our other daily crises and stressful events in our lives. Some of you may also be dealing with loss of a job and the challenge of finding another one. This adds multiple stressors such as the immediate concerns of paying the rent and bills, and the uncertainty of how long this unemployment is going to last.  The lack of routine can be difficult to manage for we are creatures of routine and habit, and worry can fill the extra time that you have on your hands. 

Grow Your Self-Management Skills

These times scream for excellent self-management skills which we all have in some degree but we really need to use them now. The good news is that you can grow your self-management skills. They are dynamic and fluid competencies. The process of self-management involves: emotional self-control, adaptability, stress management and motivation.

Controlling Your Emotions Will Keep You Focused 

Emotional self-control is the ability to manage your emotions in a positive and effective way and it is critical to staying focused for an effective job search.  Reflecting and expressing positive feelings such as happiness is easy, but it is much more difficult to reflect and focus on frustration and anger because they are uncomfortable to feel and express. 

To be successful in getting the job you want, you have to manage your many emotions. For example, it takes self-control to not be in a hurry to get your resume out the door. Usually people feel they have to hurry up and get their resume out there. I believe it is more important to spend time doing a quality resume first, and then send it out so that it will be a market-ready and targeted document.  

Making your resume great entails writing down your accomplishments in ways that will get an employer’s attention.  This kind of writing takes effort.  Resume writing involves whittling down your great accomplishment stories into single statements that boast of the results that you have achieved in your past positions.  In order for your resume to be great, you will have to write and rewrite it, edit it a number of times and edit it again after asking a couple of trusted people to review and critique it.  

Receiving rejection letters is part of the process too.  This may lead you to feel weighted down with sadness, anger, insecurity and self-doubt. These feelings are natural; any rejection can shake your confidence. Acknowledge these feelings but move on. Be positive and stay confident in what you have to offer an employer.

Adapting and Being Flexible Keeps You Moving Forward

The second skill in self-management is adaptability, which is being flexible in handling change. Yes, change is a part of life and it can be stressful whether it is a big change such as ending one job and beginning another or a small change like an appointment gets cancelled and needs to be rescheduled. We are creatures of habit.  Changing our routines and trying on new behaviors or patterns requires more thought and effort than following a daily routine.  

Try embracing change by expecting it. Be ready for it. This can give you a more positive and proactive mindset. Do not dwell on how bad things are and how stressed you feel. This keeps you in the arena of negative self-talk which leads to negative feelings and behaviors. Manage the anxiety and use your energy to take actions toward your goals.

Being flexible is looking at all the possibilities and avenues to reach your goals. The more flexible you can be, the more options and tools that you have to choose from to deal with your situation.  For example, what happens if you always take the same road to work and one day you find that the road is closed and under construction? You have to find a different route.  If you have never ventured a different route, you have to find and learn a new route immediately.  What if the new route saves you 10 minutes in getting to work?  Wow – a positive result in the midst of change.  Keep yourself open to new ways and try new things. 

If you have not searched for a job in times of internet, you have much to learn from how to submit your resume and job applications online to how to use Linked In. LinkedIn.com, a business social media, allows you to showcase your skills and experience, get targeted job alerts, search for job postings, and grow your social network for a successful job search. 

Managing Stress Allows More of Your Energy to go Toward Your Job Search 

An important part of self-management is stress management. Managing stress effectively is your ability to deal with stress without falling apart and becoming too frazzled. It is using positive coping strategies.

The better able you can deal with stress, the more effective you will be in controlling your feelings of anger, frustration and impatience.  Managing stress and emotions go hand in hand. Have you noticed when you under extreme stress you become angrier quicker and more impatient? Your system can not function as effectively because you are feeling overwhelmed and your brain is in overdrive mode. Your job is to monitor yourself and “put on the brakes”. “In slowing down” you will have more control over your thoughts and thus your actions. Take the analogy of a car, the faster you drive, the less control you have and the more difficult it is to maneuver the turns and to stop. Slowing down and putting on the brakes allows you to maintain better control.  The goal is to manage your emotions rather than be controlled by them.

Tips for Managing Stress in Your Job Search

  • Regular Physical Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins which are chemicals in the body that fight off the physiological effects of stress on your body.   Exercise also helps you to feel better because you are taking proactive steps to be in charge of your body and physical state.  Experts say it should be part of a daily routine with workouts of at least 30 minutes three times a week.  Sometimes you can come up with creative ideas when you exercise.  
  • Relaxation: Working all the time continues to drain your body and your mind.  Taking a break and allowing yourself to relax and focus on other less intense topics allows your body and mind to recover and re-energize itself.  When you go back to work after a weekend of relaxation, you are ready to work and better able to manage the stressors that arise more effectively.  Find a hobby that will allow you to relax your mind and body and use some of your other skills and talents.  You may even feel a sense of pride and confidence from your accomplishment which will carry over to your job search.
  • Sleep: Getting the right amount of sleep can’t be emphasized enough.  When you are tired, your mind and body move slower and does not function as sharply.  Concerns and worries grow out of perspective because you are not using all of your controls and not putting them into place as quickly.   Just knowing that when you are tired, you should refrain from putting too much thought and action into worries and concerns.  Let things go until the morning when you are feeling refreshed and then tackle your concerns.
  • Deep breathing: Taking a few deep breaths allowing your lungs to fill completely with air and then slowly exhaling will calm your physiological and emotional state.  This is an action that you can do “in the moment” when you need to pause and quickly assess the situation to make an effective response.  This can be used often in the interview process, take deep breaths to relieve the anxiety.

Staying Motivated and Optimistic Helps You Overcome Obstacles

Last is your ability to take initiative. Motivation is a force or influence that moves you to act and drives your behavior. It pushes you to establish goals and direct your energies toward attaining them. 

To tap into the power of motivation for your job search, you first need to understand what motivates you. Your motivation can and does change over time and is related to your needs. Psychologist Abraham Maslow stated that we continue to strive to meet a hierarchy of needs to develop our full potential as a human being and if we become blocked in this process, we become unhappy and dissatisfied.  This hierarchy of needs starts with the basics of food, water and shelter to safety needs which entail security and law and order. 

Next, your needs for belonging and love enter in as well as your need of self-esteem, respecting yourself and receiving the esteem of others.  The last and highest need is self-actualization, which is being the best in the world that you can possibly be. You have to fulfill the lower basic needs first before you can meet the higher needs.

Your motivation is also driven by your values or your beliefs and standards

Use your awareness of your values to guide you in making decisions about a new job. A job that supports your values will lead to greater satisfaction. For example, if you value advancement, or work-life balance, look for these opportunities when considering your next job offer. 

Optimism goes hand-in-hand with motivation

Do you look at life “like a glass half empty or a glass half full”? Optimism is a focus on positive thinking, and affects your motivation too.  Optimism keeps you going through the rough spots and obstacles that get in the way as you strive towards your goals.  Being a pessimist or choosing to focus on the negative side of a matter can keep you feeling stuck, powerless and hopeless.

According to psychologist Martin Seligman in his book, “Learned Optimism”, many studies show data that support how optimistic people are generally healthier and live longer.  

Optimism can be learned. Optimism starts with an awareness of those negative thoughts that we play in our mind and moves you to challenge those negative thoughts and change them to more realistic and positive ones.  With positive thoughts, you will respond in a forward moving direction.  For example, clients I have worked with talk about the silver linings that come out of losing their job.  Many have shared that they likely would not have left their job, though they were unhappy in it, if it wasn’t for this push out the door.  They were actually glad to have it happen.  Many tell me they have enjoyed the time off to spend with family, finish projects around the house or start an exercise program. 

Some people have more challenges and crises to face than others, but everyone experiences setbacks and problems. Although you have no control over these events in and of themselves, you can control your response to them. You can look at any event and ask what can be learned from it and how do you want to move forward. In this way, you gain wisdom and become stronger in your resolve to achieve new goals.

Finally, to find the right job … you have to believe that you will eventually find it.   You have to believe there is a job out there that you want and can do, and that you will interview well enough to receive the job offer.  Positive thinking and being hopeful is using the skill of optimism.   Having these beliefs helps you to feel confident and act confidently.  If you doubt yourself and your ability, negative thoughts abound which leads to negative feelings and stress.  Communicate your optimism and enthusiasm as you network and interview for jobs. 

If you would like to take an assessment to measure your self-management skills and/or receive coaching to develop your competencies, please contact us.