11 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 while applying to jobs can have an even more profound impact on your success. Overcoming self-doubt can do wonders to unfold new opportunities and improve well-being while looking for employment. Use these simple, yet effective tips for conquering self-sabotage while you apply to jobs.

11 Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt When Applying to Jobs

“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

Self-doubt can be a crippling emotion with negative consequences on your energy and actions. When applied to the job search process, it can limit your opportunities by reducing the kinds of positions you pursue. Additionally, self-doubt in your career ambitions can lead to chronic negative self-self talk that can spill over into other aspects of your life.

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 reek 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.

Use the following tips to help combat the effects of self-doubt and boost your confidence while you navigate your job search.

1. Remember Your Accomplishments

When you apply for a new position and the 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.

When negative thoughts threaten to ruin your day, 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.

Related: Employers Aren’t Responding to Your Job Applications? 12 Reasons Why

2. 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, you will have moments that test you and may cause you to wonder, “Can I really do this?” The answer is most likely yes.

Gender and sociology can also play roles in self-doubt. Research sited in Forbes suggests that women have less confidence when applying for positions when they do not meet all of the requirements. This research, which originates from a Hewlett-Packard internal report, shows  21.6 percent of women asked why they didn’t apply for a specific job stated they didn’t want to risk not being hired if they applied to a job for which they didn’t feel qualified.

3. Build a Strong Support System

Everyone needs cheerleaders in their corner. When you aren’t at your most confident or you experience rejection, having your 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.

Related: Job Rejection: 6 Success Tips to Bounce Back Fast

4. Seek Professional Guidance

A mentor is anyone you can 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.

5. Relieve Yourself 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. This means, 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.

Related: 12 Ways to Reignite the Spark for Your Career

6. 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 putting intention behind 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.

7. Set Short Term Goals

Setting goals is a preemptive strike against self-doubt. It is best to set manageable short-term goals that you can track over a month or two. Make sure your goals 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

Related: 7 Ways to Change Careers Without Starting Over

8. Celebrate Small Victories

Avoid falling into a pattern of self-doubt by celebrating the small wins. When you want to stay motivated to pursue your career, take time to 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 throw yourself pat yourself on the back.

9. Practice Postive 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. Write down three or four statements you can repeat to yourself whenever self-doubt begins to 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.”

Related: 11 Career Affirmations to Inspire Your Job Search

10. Try Meditation

Meditation is a method of breathing and relaxation that can help improve your mood and increase positive thinking. There are many ways to meditate. You do not have to spend an hour cross-legged on the floor to benefit from the practice.

Try 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.

11. 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.

Related: Food and Fitness Tips for a Sedentary Work Style

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. Virtual Vocations has thousands of job postings for you to explore. Sign up today and take one step closer to your dream job.

How do you overcome self-doubt while on the hunt for a jobShare your tips when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credit: 1.iStock.com/Lisa-Blue


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