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Discouragement Leads to Discouragement

I’ve written much about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude during a job search. It impacts every step of the process, from networking, to writing a resume, to interviews and follow up. 

One aspect of a poor attitude I have not discussed before, however, is how particularly destructive discouragement can be to the process.

I have spoken to many job seekers where discouragement has torpedoed their potential success in their quest for a new position. They’ve allowed discouragement to cloud their view of their skills, their value, their talent, and certainly their confidence.

Conversations I’ve had, often with formerly highly successful and effective professionals, have shown that they are no longer looking at the world as it is, but rather through a fog of self-doubt and sometimes bitterness. As a result, discouragement too often leads to more discouragement.

Discouragement snuffs out the flame of a can-do attitude.

When one is discouraged, it often manifests itself in a lack of interest or confidence in potential opportunities. Jobs that might otherwise seem a worthy challenge or an intriguing opportunity, now seem mundane, unappealing, or a poor fit. The discouraged state of mind taints the view of potential roles that do arise. That lack of interest keeps one from pursuing viable opportunities because they don’t seem as appealing as they might otherwise. That lack of interest in a prospective position comes across poorly in the interview process and leads to a greater likelihood of an outcome that is even more discouraging.

Discouragement breeds self-doubt.

Not only do jobs look less enticing than they might otherwise, the self-confidence to feel qualified to do various jobs fails as well. When someone deals poorly with rejection from job interviews, they often begin to doubt that their experience, skills, and abilities have any value at all. While a job may fit well, a discouraged person constantly questions whether they can really live up to the expectations. That self-doubt leads to rejecting opportunities, and being rejected when they project a lack of confidence in their ability during interviews.

Discouragement can become a downward spiral.

Unfortunately, when someone becomes greatly discouraged in their job search, it can turn into a sinking cycle that seems to never end. Someone that is not chosen for a couple of opportunities they had their hearts set on, begins to lose confidence, that leads to a poorer presentation at their next interviews, which leads to more rejection, which leads to a greater sense of unemployability, which leads to longer term unemployment, and so on… and so on. Allowing oneself to wallow in discouragement typically makes a bad situation even worse.

Don’t let it happen!

While it may sound overly simplistic, the best strategy to beat discouragement, is to not let it set in to begin with! Too often, in the job search process, the results are taken too personally. More often than not, an employer doesn’t reject a particular candidate specifically, but rather picks the one they believe has the best combination of skills, experience, and culture fit. Any one candidate doesn’t generally know who their competition is. When they are not selected, rather than looking at it as a personal rejection, they should see it for the truth as it is… there simply was someone else that happened to fit better.

Constantly reminding oneself of appropriate concepts often helps:


  • Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
    • You can CHOOSE how you view and react to the fact that you didn’t get a job
    • How you react will have a great impact on your next prospects

  • You can’t keep a bird from landing on your head, but you can keep it from building a nest!
    • You usually can’t keep negative thoughts from popping in your mind
    • You can, however, determine whether you will dwell on those negative thoughts or not

  • Maintaining a positive attitude is one of the most difficult yet most important things you can do for a successful job search.
    • Keeping in mind how critical a positive attitude is, will help you choose to react in a positive way when things don’t go as planned

Discouragement can lead to more discouragement. Decide today that you will do what’s necessary to keep from falling into that downward spiral!


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Carolyn K said...

A great way to stay positive and fight discouragement is to join a job search & support group, like Neighbors-helping-Neighbors www.nhnusa.org . It helps being able to talk to and help others who know what you're going through!

Unknown said...

I love your blog as I've said before, but I do take exception with this.

A lot of energy will be spent in fighting that feeling of discouragement. I feel something I feel it, its how I work. While I may hate bad feelings, they come and they go. I realize I won't always feel bad the clouds will disappear even while I'm still job searching.

I have a bad cold this week. I have no leads right now, and no way to go out and network because I am sick. I had plans, I was going to get my haircut and network, and have an outing with some people.

There is no way out of this right now. Just fix up my new speeches, look at google etc.

This all will pass. No sense in trying to fight my feelings about it.

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