Discover a few ways to overcome self-doubt in your remote job search.

12 Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt When Applying to Jobs

Although many career gurus cover the external factors that influence the job search, the internal battles faced can have an even more profound impact on your success. One of the most crippling is self-doubt. In the extreme, self-doubt can limit your opportunities by reducing the positions you pursue, and chronic negative self-talk can spill over into other aspects of your life. When you overcome self-doubt, your well-being improves, and you allow new opportunities to unfold without fear.

“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.”

Dale Carnegie

What does self-doubt do to your brain?

Self-doubt can impact your mental and physical health. Unlike love, affection, and curiosity, self-doubt is a learned behavior. It rears its ugly head as negative self-talk such as:

  • “I’m not good enough to apply for this job.”
  • “There is no point in trying. I won’t be chosen for an interview.”
  • “I’ll never find a job I like.”

Statements like these may seem harmless, however, when internalized, they can wreak havoc on your daily thought process and impact your choices.

Your brain will respond to the kind of stimuli you provide it with most consistently. Therefore, if you feed your brain with self-doubt, you begin to believe these false statements. This negativity can decrease your motivation and derail your goals, particularly during stressful times in life like a job transition.

Learn how to get over self-doubt as you apply for new remote positions by following the simple, yet effective tips below.

1. Identify Your Pain Points

One of the first things you can do to overcome self-doubt is to pinpoint what your feelings are attached to. Where do you experience doubt in your skillset? Do you have doubts about your career choice? By taking the time at the outset of a remote job search to unpack where your doubts lie, you can take control. For each doubt you identify, decide if there is any truth to it. If there is, then develop a plan to address or remediate the problem.

2. Remember Your Accomplishments

When you apply for a new position and days pass without a response from the hiring manager, you start to doubt your skills and your ability to reach your goal of a new position. This can create significant problems, but you still have a solution. When negative thoughts threaten to ruin your day, the best way to overcome self-doubt is to take a moment to remember your past accomplishments. Think about the last time you felt proud of your work or the last time you received a compliment on your skills or abilities.

Examples of your accomplishments don’t have to relate to your professional career. Did you finish a marathon? This is an excellent example of your endurance and perseverance. Let your mind take you back to the feeling of that achievement. Understand that you will have more accomplishments in the future and every past success is proof you will get there again.

3. Remind Yourself You Are Not Alone

Whether you are an entry-level employee or an executive, everyone experiences self-doubt occasionally. Doubt can convince you that you are the only person in history who has felt insecure about their chances of success. Keep in mind, no matter how talented, accomplished, or respected you are in your field, everyone has moments that test us and cause us to wonder, “Can I really do this?” Take comfort in that fact and use it to gather your courage to pursue your dreams.

4. Build a Strong Support System

Everyone needs cheerleaders in their corner. When you aren’t at your most confident or you experience rejection, having friends there to remind you of your positive qualities can do wonders. If you do not have close friends who live locally, consider joining an online community or finding an in-person group that offers support or social networking for job seekers. This is a great way to confirm that you are not the only one going through the struggles and insecurities that accompany a job transition.

5. Seek Professional Guidance

Overcoming self-doubt can be easier with help from a mentor you trust to provide guidance and advice. Professional mentors are usually people you look up to who have successfully maneuvered through a similar hurdle or have achieved career benchmarks you would also like to reach. Mentors are extremely helpful when you experience self-doubt. They can listen to and empathize with your concerns as well as share tales of their own experiences which can uplift you and remind you of your own potential.

If you do not yet have personal mentors, you can find sources of inspiration by reading memoirs of people whom you admire. Discover a new mentor by watching a YouTube video about or an article written by an influential person. In addition, you can check with your professional association as many run mentorship programs.

6. Let Go of External Expectations

One of the major contributors to self-doubt is an overload of external expectations. Carrying the weight of other people’s wants for your life will distract you from your own goals. While friends and family may want the best for you, they cannot complete the tasks you must undertake to succeed. To overcome self-doubt caused by the expectations of others, remember that when it comes to your career, you are the only one who should set expectations for your performance.

Deliver yourself from the need to please others by evaluating how approval from others will add value to your life. How will feeling liked or receiving praise for complying with the will of another help you in your career? It is likely that these things only impact you on an emotional level, and even this impact is temporary. Rather than relying heavily on external validation, it is much more fulfilling to achieve the goals you set for yourself.

7. Forgive Your Past

If your self-doubt is rooted in past mistakes, it is crucial to forgive yourself for these missteps. Often when you feel stressed or fearful about taking on new opportunities, your mind will slip into “Worst Case Scenario Mode.” Take a cue from Elsa and combat this by letting go of the past. Forgive yourself for what was and thank yourself for the steps you’ve taken to rectify your mistakes. Learning to move on and look ahead is how you build strength and use mistakes as opportunities for growth and advancement.

8. Set Short Term Goals

Since self-doubt can be caused when you feel overwhelmed, setting goals is a preemptive strike. Try setting small, manageable short-term goals that you can track over a month or two. Make sure they fit in with your schedule and that you don’t pack too many tasks into a short timeframe. Use a vision board or calendar to set one or two goals per week. Possible goals for jobseekers include:

  • Attend a professional development webinar
  • Meet one new business contact
  • Spend one hour reading a book about your industry

9. Celebrate Small Victories

Avoid falling into a pattern of self-doubt by celebrating the small wins. When you want to stay motivated and overcome self-doubt to pursue your career with confidence, acknowledge your strides every step of the way. When you mark off a goal on your list or complete an extensive job application, congratulate yourself. Take yourself out to the movies, indulge in an activity you normally don’t make time for, or simply give yourself pat yourself on the back.

10. Practice Positive Self-Talk

Positive affirmations can counteract negative thoughts and help you form a habit of thinking positively even when your job search isn’t going as planned. Overcome self-doubt by writing down three or four statements you can repeat to yourself whenever negative thoughts creep up on you. These quotes can be from people who inspire you or you can create your own that match your particular needs. Affirmation suggestions include the following:

  • “I am creating my new reality daily.”
  • “I am grateful for the opportunities I will encounter.”
  • “I have all the skills I need to succeed.”

11. Try Meditating

Meditation can help improve your mood and increase positive thinking as a method to overcome self-doubt. There are many ways to meditate from simple breathing meditation to elaborate visualizations. However, you do not need to make things complicated or spend an hour cross-legged on the floor to benefit from the practice. Try starting by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths when you begin to feel overwhelmed. You can also experiment with guided meditation which includes visualizing your ideal outcomes and clearing your mind of negative thoughts. There are many new smartphone apps as well that can help you get started.

12. Get Some Exercise

At the first sign of self-doubt, boost your mood with movement. You can do something as simple as taking a brisk walk around your neighborhood or sign up for a community exercise class like Zumba, kickboxing or yoga. Make exercise a regular part of your routine to keep your motivation high and remain energized while you pursue your next career opportunity.

Push Past the Doubt

Although it is difficult to keep going when you experience doubt, the best way to overcome your insecurities while searching for a job is to continue to do the things that scare you. Taking calculated risks and pushing through feelings of unworthiness will result in the best possible outcomes. If you take a risk and it doesn’t go as planned, at least you can feel proud that you tried. In contrast, if you do not take the plunge you may never know what could have been. Today is always the best day to step outside your comfort zone and apply for a new position.

Did you have any tips to overcome self-doubt? What worked for you? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!

Join Virtual Vocations

Joining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked remote jobs database. Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened remote jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background. Register for free or contact us for more information on our service guarantee.

Check out our menu of Career Services provided by our team of certified professionals, including resume and career coaching services for remote jobseekers. Resume assessments and writing, LinkedIn profile enhancement, and cover letter writing are available to maximize the success of your remote job applications. Discounts on all services available to subscription members, become one now.

Some of the original content of this piece from March 6, 2018, was completed by Binta Dixon and updated for the March 4, 2021, edition.

Related Articles