I have some clients who are fearful that if they job search, they may not be able to find a better situation. Rather than simply hoping for the best in your next role, or having your fears stall your progress, I’m going to give you tips and guidance so that you can feel certain that your next job will be different. Mainly, I will help you reflect on what you need out of your next role and accurately assess the offers at hand so you can be intentional about which next opportunity will suit your needs and help you to thrive.
1. Fearing a “repeat” of being in a toxic environment:
- This is very real and unfortunately common to find a company culture that is less than ideal or perfect. Reflect on: What went well in past roles? What didn’t go well in past roles? What do I need in my next organization? What do I deserve from a future employer?
- Then, creatively come up with questions that will help you get concrete answers.
- The key here is not asking things like “what’s the company culture?” Rather, get very specific about what exactly you need or don’t need and work on drafting phrasing of your questions that will truly elicit the information you need.
- Consider asking for stories of past examples when the team/manager/company has exhibited certain traits that you’re looking for, the same way they’d ask you to do the same.
2. Fearing losing yourself at work, without being able to have a healthy work-life balance:
- Reflect on what work life balance means to you. Is it a fixed or flexible schedule? What number of work hours per day feels reasonable and manageable to you? Do you mind logging on in the evenings or weekends Does it mean having sufficient support on your team to feel like you can lean on others when you need to take a day off? Does it mean flexibility in terms of remote or hybrid work? Does it mean understanding their PTO or maternity/paternity leave or another policy? Does it mean having additional benefits like access to therapy or mindfulness resources, a stipend for physical wellness, or something else? Consider the stage or size of an organization or even of the prospective team as a signal as to how chaotic, hectic, or dire their needs may be. Something else?
- Come up with direct questions to understand the answers to the above and/or whichever criteria are important to you.
- Know that you can ask the same question again in a new way if you’re not getting sufficient answers.
- If you’re hearing a fluffy, generic, ingenuine answer, consider that as an answer itself.
3. Fear not having your own strength or support to manage your own mental health:
- Taking care of yourself before you job search is critical. If you just left a job, take at least 1 week to fully process, grieve, and heal from the experience. Take this as an opportunity to breathe and take stock holistically. While you may feel uneasy without a job, it’s also one of the rarest opportunities to have your time available to you to get things back on track. Taking care of your mindset before you dive back into the mode of finding your next professional endeavor is key so that you can approach your job search in a positive, confident, open-minded, excited manner.
- Take baby steps and start small. Ask yourself what key components you need to work on to feel stronger mentally. Pick one and break it down into a bite sized, manageable first step to take. Ask yourself if there are any blockers in your way from starting to implement that one small thing into your routine. A blog on finding affordable therapy is here.
4. Fear of being less than or not enough:
- Imposter syndrome is a real & common feeling. Here’s what I’d suggest:
- You can think of your confidence on a spectrum, either underconfident, overconfident, or right in the middle — do your best to objectively assess your skill set.
- Document lists of skills that either: you’re great at, good at, would be great at if you learn it, and not great/don’t love doing.
- Review target job postings and give each bullet/requirement a ranking: great at, good at, would be great at/need to learn, not great at, or you can simply use 1–10 for how aligned your skills/experience is with each one.
- The most important thing I can say is that clarity on your overall direction — role, industry, environment is truly the key here. By learning deeply about your career options, understanding what they entail, and confidently identifying the best fit path for you, it will help you feel better about pursuing the necessary skills to achieve your goal, despite your current skill set.
- The process of career exploration can help you gain confidence in your direction — ie reflection, research, networking, in a time-bound way whereby you learn enough about each option until you narrow in on the top most-fitting role and industry — given your learning about the paths & given your reflection about how they relate to you/what you’re like.