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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

4 Lies You Tell Yourself During the Job Search When You’re Desperate

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OK, I’ll confess: Sometimes, stress makes me kid myself.

Let’s say I’m facing the tail end of a massive project: I might tell myself that I needed the pick-me-up afforded by eating a bag of M&Ms. Or that I was “being productive” by organizing a desk drawer down to the last paperclip. My lies are a welcome distraction from whatever pressure I’m facing in my work—but they don’t get me any closer to completing it.

If you’ve ever networked your face off, applied-applied-applied, and are still waiting to receive an offer, you might fall into the same pattern of half-truths. (Because it’s easier than dealing with the nitty-gritty of what’s not working.)

In that spirit, here are four of the most common lies born from job hunt desperation, complete with a reality check that’ll get you back on course:

1. “My Experience Is Just Too [Insert Adjective]”

You might end the above statement with “diverse,” “advanced,” or “unique”—especially if you’re making a big career move and facing several non-responses to your applications. Ever the realist, you’re sure that where you’re coming from and where you’re going simply don’t align.

The truth: You haven’t done the work to make it clear that you’re a fit.

You’re telling yourself a bold-faced personal branding lie—that they don’t get you, and there’s not really anything you can do about it.

It’s time to get the facts and ensure you’ve packaged yourself accordingly. Do your homework in the form of chats with recruiters and some informational interviews. What experience are employers actually looking for? From there, revisit your resume, LinkedIn profile, and everything in between to make sure you’re demonstrating what hiring managers are looking for—loud and clear.

2. “I Nailed the Interview and Got the Job”

The hiring manger asked you about your timeline, spent a lot of time answering your questions, and even requested a list of your references. You both laughed and smiled a lot. So logically, you allow yourself to breathe a sigh of relief. You might even pause your high-intensity job hunt because it looks like things are going well.

The truth: You’re operating off (potentially) false hope.

It’s easy to mistake a well-rounded conversation for a soft offer when you’re going through a rough job search. However, skilled interviewers never let on what they’re really thinking. So, while you absolutely deserve to pat yourself on the back for doing your best and making a connection, don’t blow it by updating your LinkedIn just yet.

At this stage, you still need to act like an applicant. Send a thank you note. And elsewhere, keep your options open, which brings me to…

3. “They’ll Get Back to Me”

This lie sometimes goes hand-in-hand with “That interview went great,” and it always crops up when the position in question is the one you really, really want. It causes you to wait around for answers weeks longer than you were promised. Because surely, they’re just taking time to deliberate this hiring choice, right?

The truth: Lengthy delays and radio silence rarely indicate an upcoming job offer.

Don’t halt your job search just because a company drags its feet. Sure, immersing yourself in yet another hiring process is grueling, but the alternative is painting yourself into a corner.

Never stop creating opportunities for yourself. Should your dream company reject you (Or ghost you entirely, yikes!), you’ll have options.

And if you’re looking to get a clearer idea of what’s happening before this painful radio silence, you should make sure to ask this question toward the end of any interview: “What does your hiring timeline look like?”

If you’re told the hiring manager wants to make a decision by the end of next week—and if it’s been three weeks since that deadline, it might be time to face the facts.

4. “Any Job Is Better Than the One I Have.”

When your current workplace is a nightmare, “I’ll take whatever I can get” tunnel vision can seriously warp your job hunt. Escape isn’t just your goal—it’s your only hope of survival, and you’re willing to say yes to anything that supports it.

The truth: Come on. Deep down, you know you want a good job!

Hasty career moves leave dings and dents on your career timeline; and even worse, they set you up to be hitting the job hunt pavement again before you know it. Instead of putting yourself in a situation where you’re unhappy because you accepted a sub-par offer, grin and bear it until you land something great (the difference is usually a matter of weeks).

Make every move count.

“I’ve done everything imaginable to get a job” is the number one fib I hear as a personal branding and job search strategy coach. If you’re feeling stuck in your hunt, open yourself up to objective feedback. Mentors and trusted friends can help you spot your blind spots, debunk your lies, and send you running down paths you had no idea existed.

You just have to be willing to listen!