In my 8-week class on job search strategies, it's not at all unusual for people to assume the worst when they don't get a response from a company right away after an interview or after applying. It's also not unusual for many of them to get overly excited and "certain" they are getting a job after only seeing an appropriate job posting or after an initial phone screen.
Whether it's being overly pessimistic, or overly optimistic, the problem is the same… unrealistic expectations about the process. Those unrealistic expectations invariably send people on an emotional rollercoaster that becomes draining and leads to a bad attitude in their pursuit of a new career.
It's critical to find balance in your reactions regardless of how things progress.
Here are some things that can help…
Remember… It's not all about you! Very often, people assume that every action an employer takes, or doesn't take, is a very personal statement about them as a candidate. For example:
If the employer calls quickly after applying for a job, it "must" mean they are excited about my background.
If they don't call me back when they said they would, it "must" mean they are rejecting me.
The reality is that the employer, in most cases, has other priorities in their workday and workweek than just hiring someone to fill that particular position. Timing often has more to do with when they happen to get to it, rather than any judgment about an individual candidate.
As a candidate, your sense of urgency about getting to the next steps is almost always going to be greater than the employers'. Understanding that you are one of many priorities on their plate often helps to set expectations more realistically.
Temper your emotional response. Allowing yourself to get emotionally too high, or too low in your job search process usually has a rebound effect that swings you too far in the other direction.
It's not unusual for someone to get overly excited when they see a job posting that seems to be "written for them". In reality, regardless how good a fit the position may be, when you see a posting you have to realize you will likely be one of dozens, or potentially hundreds of other candidates. Even if you are a better fit than all the others, you have a challenge of being able to get noticed out of the sea of other applicants. Managing your emotions so that you only allow yourself to get incrementally more excited as you progress through the hiring process helps keep you from the crushing feeling if you don't get the interview or the job.
Conversely, If you allow yourself to hit the floor emotionally when you don't get the job you thought you had locked up, it will take you longer to get into a state of mind to take advantage of the next opportunity that comes up. Furthermore, after you've been so low, many people get overly exuberant when the next prospect turns up. Realize that it was one job, and there are others out there to be pursued as well.
The emotional roller-coaster, going to great heights, and deep valleys is stressful and draining to your attitude and your well being. In turn, that then makes you less attractive to future potential employers.
Keep the pipeline full! The greatest way to keep your emotions on the positive side and avoid the big swings is to have other opportunities you're working on. Too often, when job seekers feel like they're "getting close" to an offer, they slow down or quit their networking, hunting, and applying to other positions. So when they don't get the offer they thought was locked up, they not only feel discouraged about losing that position, they also are starting over again to get their pipeline re-filled.
Until you have an offer in hand, you should never slow down your efforts at pursuing as many opportunities as you can find. It certainly helps you to make better choices and softens the blow when you have 2 or 3 other promising opportunities in the hopper if this turns out not to be "the one".
Finding and maintaining an emotional balance in your job search is critical to being on top of your game throughout your search. Become conscious of your emotional responses and control them to be your best!