But, knowing it can happen doesn’t lessen the sting. It’s normal to feel disappointed when an opportunity doesn’t pan out, and you don’t want the fear of losing out to hold you back.
With that in mind, here’s how to rebuild your confidence.
Step 1: Let Go of the Bad Experience
Psychologist Matthew Jepsen compares uncomfortable feelings to an inflatable beach ball in a pool. Your instinct is to keep it under the water where you can’t see it, but of course it floats to the surface every time you let go. When your attention’s on keeping the ball submerged, it’s hard to do anything else. You can’t swim or splash around with your friends. It’s hard to even concentrate on a conversation.
However, you have the option to release the ball and let it float around in the pool with you. You’re now free to do all kinds of things! The ball is still there, but it isn't keeping you from having fun or doing the things you want to do.
Too often, people become obsessed with figuring out what they did wrong. Yes, you want to reflect and avoid replicating mistakes. But sometimes, you won’t get a call because you’re not as qualified as the competition or because there was an internal candidate.
And if you carry the baggage—er, beach ball—around, you could end up sabotaging your next interview (say, by asking the hiring manager over and over again if they’re sure you can’t say anything else, or sending overly aggressive follow-up emails).
So, the very first step to feeling more confident is to make sure you won’t let whatever happened previously hold you back.
Step 2: Have More Than One Goal
As a job search drags on, it’s easy to think: I suck at this, or more simply, I suck.
And these negative thoughts can take over if your only goal is to land a job—and you haven't met it yet. You don’t want every day that doesn’t end in an offer to feel like a failure (because there will be a lot of them).
So, be sure you also set goals that you can attain by your actions alone (i.e., that don’t require anything external, like hiring manger to call you or a contact to write you back). For example, did you do something courageous like attending to a networking event, pressing “send” on an application, or signing up for a course that’ll make a new role that much more attainable?
All of those actions take effort and guts, and you did them.
When you celebrate small achievements, you remind yourself of what you can do. That positivity will help you feel more confident, and in turn, you’ll be able to keep perservering.
No one said job searching was easy. But by letting go of disappointments and focusing on all of the positive ways you’re driving the process forward, you’re proving to yourself that you can keep going.
It’s amazing how much progress you can make if you take one tiny step at a time. Try it today and enjoy the confidence boost that comes with giving yourself credit for doing your best.