What to Do If Your Job Search in Higher Ed Admin Is Taking Too Long

So close, yet so far

It happened again. You went to a second level interview for a new position and although you thought everything went very well, you didn’t get the job. You’ve been actively searching for your dream job for months now. You traveled across the state to go to multiple interviews. You are often a top candidate and yet, you are still stuck at that old job you so desperately want to leave. Sigh…

Back when you went to your very first interview, you felt excited and confident. But now, at this point in your search, you feel discouraged and almost hopeless. Your mind is going crazy trying to understand what the problem is. You look for something to blame.

Maybe you weren’t selected because you are too young, or too old, or the wrong gender or ethnicity. Maybe the person who served as interim had an unfair advantage and the college knew all along that he was going to get the permanent position. Maybe you never even had a chance. Your thoughts are taking you deeper and deeper into powerlessness and resentment.

Then you start blaming yourself and asking “What’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong? Did I say something wrong at the interview? Is there something I should have said but didn’t? Am I a fool for even trying? Do I even deserve a job like this one? Why can’t I be the one they choose?”

Your inner critic is completely overtaking your mind and your emotions. Your spouse senses something is wrong so he/she smiles at you but it is not comforting at all. You feel you don’t even deserve his/her love. You are too busy beating yourself up to even consider giving yourself permission to enjoy this moment with your spouse. You can’t continue this way. You have to snap out of it! Let me show you how.

How to get unstuck

1.     Take a break and reduce the pressure

Don’t ask yourself if you deserve a break. That’s irrelevant. The point is that you need a mental break to give yourself a chance to recharge your batteries and go back to being your happy and confident self. Take some time (it can be one day or one week, you decide) and stop thinking about job search all together. Seriously, stop it!!!

2.     Put your attention on something pleasing

When you stop thinking about your job search, it will create a void and your mind will try to fill it. The best way to make sure the void isn’t filled with the same old disempowering thoughts is to choose what to give your attention to. Choose something that pleases you, such as gratitude for all you have in your life. Appreciation and gratitude are powerful forces to change your thoughts and emotions in an instant.

3.     Do something that makes you happy

What do you love to do? How about spending quality time with your loves ones, playing with your pets, playing music, doing something artistic, going in nature, getting a massage, or simply reading a good book? Make self-care your priority. Give yourself permission to enjoy all the pleasures you have in your life.

4.     Take a fresh look at your potential

If you have done the first three steps, you are now feeling much better, the disempowering thoughts are gone, and you are ready to get back to your job search, but with a different approach. You are not going to analyze what is wrong with you but what is right with you! Think about your experience, expertise, education, skills and talents. Take a moment to recall some of your most meaningful accomplishments. Remember praise you have received over the years. Create a mental inventory of all the things that make you a tremendous asset to a new college or university.

5.     Create a strong vision of success

Imagine receiving a job offer and accepting it with enthusiasm because you know you are getting exactly what you’ve been hoping for. Imagine walking into your new office and making it yours. Visualize meeting your new team, working with them, and feeling fulfilled by this new chapter in new career. Think about all the benefits this will bring to your life, such as more money for your family. See it in your mind’s eye and realize that you have the power to make it happen!

6.     Make a commitment to yourself

Make a commitment to yourself that you will no longer indulge in self-criticism, self-punishment, blame, or any other behavior that gets in the way of your success. Promise to choose empowering thoughts each day and feeding your confidence rather than your fear. Keep reminding yourself that you control what goes on in your mind and it’s your responsibility to choose courage and persistence. Declare that starting today you are going to focus on self-appreciation and self-care so that you continue to be at your best and can shine at interviews.

7.     Re-examine your job search strategy

Now that you are feeling strong and empowered, you are ready to troubleshoot.

a.      If you are not getting interviews

If you are doing your best on job applications but you are rarely invited to interview, you need to rethink what jobs are best suited for you. First, take a fresh look at your background. Identify what you do best. Make sure it is reflected in your resume.

Second, choose what type of job you want instead of casting a wide net. It is important for you to create a professional identity and apply for jobs that match it, to reinforce it and help you get better each time you interview. If you jump from one field to another you will feel like an imposter and you won’t look like the best candidate. Remember that a narrow search is more effective than one that lacks direction and strategy.

b.     If you are getting interviews but no job offer

If you are getting interviews but you don’t get chosen, it means that you are clearly qualified but either (1) someone else was a better fit, or (2) something is holding you back. It is actually a tremendous opportunity to increase your self-awareness and identify what you wish to transform. Some qualities in excess become problematic.

For example, someone with high standards can appear rigid and impossible to please. Someone too friendly and casual can be perceived as a weak leader. A candidate too focused on facts and data can forget to build rapport with the hiring committee and show their human side. Confidence can sometimes look like arrogance or even insecurity manifesting itself as exaggerated confidence.

Keep in mind that the way you want to show yourself may be different from the way you are perceived. Consider consulting with someone neutral to find out if something is holding you back and how to change it.

8.     Get the guidance you need

If you find it difficult to implement the 7 steps on your own, don’t hesitate to get the guidance and support you need. If you would like to work with a coach to make your job search easier, more empowering, and to succeed faster, do it. Click here to schedule a time to speak with me about your goals and how I can help you reach them.

I know sometimes administrators feel they don’t “deserve” coaching because it seems non-essential, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Getting a coach is not indulging but investing in transforming your future. If it seems hard to consider creating a budget for it, look at the financial and emotional cost of staying at a job you no longer want. Missing out on a raise every month is costly. I’d love to help you get your dream job sooner than later, so let’s connect!

Good luck to you! Stay strong. You can do it!

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.