Stepping Off the Job Hunt Emotional Roller Coaster

Ups and Downs

Let’s face it, the hardest part of job hunting in higher ed admin isn’t writing tedious cover letters, choosing what suit to wear, answering interview questions, or even giving your best performance at a forum. The hardest part is the emotional roller coaster.

It starts with a growing desire to move up to the next level in the organizational chart. Next comes excitement about all the possibilities, then fear and self-doubt often visit, even if only for a brief moment.

A job announcement catches your attention. You like it so much you wonder if it’s too good to be true. Your subconscious mind wants to keep you safe so it leads your conscious mind to consider what could go wrong.

Is there an interim in this position? Is that person doing a good job? Does the college already know who they want to hire? Is the opportunity even real? Your brain fires up questions faster than you can answer them. So you look up the college’s website, you start cyberstalking the interim, and you make some calls to ask around and see what you can find out.

It turns out the interim is a retiree who agreed to step in for a few months but she has no interest in staying and isn’t applying for the permanent position. Somehow, the retirement goals of a complete stranger who doesn’t even know you exist validate your decision to give it a try. If she wanted the job, you would admit defeat without trying but she is not in the run. Crisis averted.

Feeling more optimistic, you look at multiple openings across the state and find half a dozen jobs you think you could love. Bingo! Woohoo, let’s do this!

You fill out applications and wait nervously to find out if the hiring committees will judge you as worthy of getting interviews. Your sense of self-worth is at the mercy of other people’s validation or rejection, and it doesn’t feel good. Very little seems to be under your control. Sigh…

Then, you get a notification from HR at a college you love. You take a deep breath. The message says you are invited to an interview. You simultaneously feel exhilarated just thinking that you could be their next [insert job title you want] and afraid to be disappointed.

A week or two later, it’s go time! You finished the silly writing assignment and now you have 50 minutes to answer interview questions and make a presentation. You did everything you could to prepare but you are nervous because so much is at stake. This hour of your life could lead you to have your dream job, a pay raise, and maybe even a new life and a new home in a new city. Or not.

As you drive home after your interview, you can’t help re-living it and wishing you had said something more or answered a question differently. You think you did well but you don’t want to set your hopes high and be disappointed. You want to be happy about your interview but you are afraid to feel foolish later. So you just wait.

The next day, you get a call inviting you to a second interview. Your spouse believes in you so much that he or she goes to buy a bottle of champagne and starts looking at homes in the other college’s district. Oh my goodness! How scary and exciting!

The second interview goes very well. You feel like you are on cloud nine and you can hear angels singing. Could it be so easy? Your first interview leading to a job offer. So quick. So easy. Your self-worth has been validated and you can already taste success. You start thinking about how you are going to break the news on your current campus. Who will be sad to see you go. How will life go on without you there. Maybe you have ideas about who could replace you at your current job in a couple of weeks.

Then you receive a letter saying that the college interviewed outstanding candidates and while you are an exceptional candidate, you didn’t make the cut. You have officially been rejected. Ouch. You just want to crawl back to bed and hide under the blanket.

The next day, as you drive to work, you are overwhelmed with a profound sense of gratitude for your current job at your current campus. They love you there. They appreciate you there. That job is what you know and where you are comfortable. You simply can’t remember why you even thought of leaving. Leaving! What were you thinking?

This whole job hunt thing is too nerve-wracking so you decide to stay put. But then, it happens again. The desire to move up makes itself known. You can’t ignore it. A couple of weeks have passed. You licked your wounds, healed, and now you are starting to dream again. You get excited about the possibilities. The next chapter in your career could be amazing!

On social media you see an inspirational quote, which on some other day would sound like an annoying platitude, but today, it feels like a sign from God or the Universe to try again. Anything your mind can conceive, it can achieve, right? A set back is not failure, only an indication to persevere. And what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Alright, it’s decided, you are going to apply for more exciting jobs.

Over the next few weeks or months, your emotions are all over the place. Hope, excitement, encouragement, progress, rejection, self-doubt, rinse and repeat. How do you get off this crazy roller coaster?

By focusing on these 5 truths.

1.     Being selected for a job is an indication that the hiring committee sees you as a good fit for a job. That’s it. It’s about fit, not worthiness. If you are told you are not “the one” it doesn’t mean you are not good enough. You are more than good enough but this isn’t where you are meant to go.

2.     Things aren’t always what they appear to be. You might think a job you applied for is your dream job but there is a lot you don’t know about the organizational culture and the challenges the new hire will have to solve. Not getting this job could be a blessing in disguise. Trust that things are unfolding for your highest good.

3.     Remember that when you decided to apply for new jobs, you had reasons to do so. Keep focusing on your reasons and on how your life will change for the better when you advance your career. Do not succumb to the temptation to limit your world to what is convenient and comfortable.

4.     Be committed to your goal to advance your career but don’t be attached to one specific position. Remember that what you are really after is what you will experience, not where you will be. If you seek professional growth, leadership opportunities, a higher compensation, enjoyable professional relationships, status, opportunities to be of service and contribute, or whatever else is important to you, you can get that through various jobs at various institutions. Success isn’t getting one particular job but getting your needs met. Be flexible about the “how” and the “where”.

5.     Most things worth having aren’t easy. So don’t give up when you feel challenged. You got this! Recall some of your past accomplishments. You see, you have had tremendous wins over the years. Look at all the things you have in your life now that were once just a dream.

I highly encourage you to put your thoughts on paper so that you can review them when unwanted events create confusion in your mind. Doubt and indecisiveness can drive you crazy so it essential to know your truth and refer back to it anything you feel you are getting pulled back on the roller coaster.

If you want to do this with ease, clarity, and confidence, consider working with a coach. It’s the best way to get off the roller coaster for good, optimize your job search strategy and get your dream job sooner.

If you would like to speak with me about teaming up to advance your career, simply click here to schedule a complimentary call. If none of the times available on my online calendar work for you, send me an email with your availability and we will find an alternative.

Don’t give up. I believe in you!

About the author: Since 2010 Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits.  Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset.