Ken Sundheim

Is Anxiety Hurting Your Ability To Find A Job?

“Those who do not know how to fight worry die young.” – Dr. Alexis Carrel.  

The career detriments of uncontrolled anxiety and worry emerge most clearly during a job transition.

Regardless of experience, compensation level, or industry, the majority of job seekers experience some form of stress during the search.  As a matter of fact, tension and worry are some of their most significant problems.

Stress hinders interviewing performance, negotiation ability and, when it gets to a certain point, can result in people wanting to postpone and ignore the process altogether.  As the CEO of a recruiting firm for the past ten years, I’ve seen the horrendous effects applicants deal with thanks to worry and rumination.

To help lessen this career killer, I thought it would be useful to analyze why people stress over a job search, the negative effects that nervous feelings bestow upon us, and some effective measures to combat anxiety and get the job you want.

Why Are Job Searches So Stressful?

Money is only part of the story.  Often, the majority of stress that job seekers incur spawns from smaller, less noticeable sources.  Most causes of anxiety are not even recognizable to the person feeling low-grade waves of panic.

It begins with control.  There is an inherent lack of control any individual has during the recruitment process.  I’ve noticed that the people who suffer significant stress during their job search are the people who tend to have more controlling personalities.  Consider the following:

  1. While searching for a job, you receive no feedback on why you are not invited to interview for a position, or why you don’t achieve a second or third interview.
  2. You don’t know who your competition is.
  3. You are kept in the dark during the phases of interviews. HR and hiring managers keep many cards close to their chests.
  4. When dealing with a job search, hundreds of uncontrollable events can occur: economic shifts, internal hiring freezes, unexpected mergers and buyouts, etc.

Stress often comes from lack of confidence, which itself comes from lack of practice.  Ironically, the more successful someone is, the less frequently they tend to have to find a new position.  Thus, they may not be very effective at managing their search.  Sometimes the most productive job seekers are the worst employees.  Practice makes perfect.

The Effects of Stress on Job Search Performance

If you let it get out of control, large amounts of anxiety and stress can have a snowball effect on your job search.

The most successful individuals focus on what they want to achieve and without veering off course, move straight toward that goal.  When you’re overwhelmed, that focus is no longer present.

Your ability to answer in-depth interview questions with thoughtful, intelligent responses lessens.  As a result, the amount of rejection you face from hiring managers increases.

Your drive and resiliency begin to fade and the consistent rejection leads to pessimistic thinking.  You start to think about all your past failures and focus less on what you’ve done correctly.  Soon enough, all of your energy channels to negative thoughts and feelings and away from fulfilling your personal ambitions.

Decreasing Anxiety and Increasing Job Search Effectiveness

While physical exercise, diet and proper sleep are key when it comes to managing stress, thought is supreme.  If you can change your mind, you can change your stress levels and your ability to find the right job.

Begin to adopt a mental attitude from which you talk to yourself with courage, frankness and good cheer.  Focus less on the problems that occur and put your energy into possible solutions.  If you’re not being called in for interviews, change your resume and cover letter or gain the necessary skills in order to become more desirable to employers, for instance.

Don’t catastrophize every rejection; understand that you’re not going to get every job you go for.  Turn letdowns into ambition instead of inaction.

If you find yourself in a real spiral of negativity and anxiety, it won’t hurt to pick up a classic such as “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” which is at its core a manual on positive thinking and genuine relationships.  If something less business-minded suits your reading tastes, a reputable CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) handbook can help you reroute your negative self-talk into more reality-based assessments about yourself and your job search.

In the End

Searching for a job can be a stressful proposition because it is intrinsically high-stakes.  Even if you are searching while currently employed, the idea is that finding the right fit will improve your life.  What’s more important than that?

Rather than letting yourself get overwhelmed, allow yourself to feel invigorated.  Working on your stress response to letdowns or anxiety-provoking situations will only improve the speed with which you complete your search and the quality of position you are able to identify for your future.

It all starts with turning negative thoughts into positive ones, and deciding to take control for yourself, rather than letting your anxiety or negativity control you.

15 Interviewing Tips That Convert to Job Offers

One of the philosophies that our recruiters adhere to is that if, as a candidate, you’re going to attend an interview, you might as well perform at 110% during the meeting. Regardless of the individuals whom you’re interviewing with or the level of job you’re pursuing, the recruiting team at KAS Placement has formulated 15 interviewing tips that, when implemented, should convert to a job offer.

1. Come across in the interview as someone who wants to be there. Someone who is confident that you are the right person for the position and as someone candid and fully invested in the conversation.

2. Go into the interview with an end-goal of getting the job offer. That’s all you need to focus on. Many times, when we take a moment to envision success and the rewards it brings, we are a lot more likely to do well.

3. Talk in terms of what the interviewer wants. Too often, we think only about what we want and don’t realize that the best way to get what we want is to meet the needs of the interviewer, and only then expect the interviewer to give us what we want, not the other way around.

4. Know where you want to be in 1, 3, and 5 years. To achieve maximum career results, we have to set firm goals and relentless pursue them. Be specific:

In 1 year, I want to be heavily contributing to a company’s bottom line and want to be a stand-out sales representative at a firm that rewards hard work, has a competitive product, and is full of intelligent, engaging people.

By the end of year 2, I would like to be responsible for mentoring other people in the office and want to be recognized as a leader amongst my peers.

Within 5 years, I would like to be a manager and consistently upgrading those under me and creating a sense of optimism and hard work in my subordinates.

5. Regardless of position, interviewers are going to hire people who are self-confident, optimistic, energetic, passionate and engaging people.

6. Learn how to focus. Through concentration a person is able to collect his or her mental and physical energies into the interview. This is as opposed to the individual who lets his or her brain wander from topic to topic. When your brain is 100% engaged, you can’t be nervous or self-critical – both of which severely hurt your ability to persuade a hiring manager or recruitment professional.

7. People want to hire leaders and leaders are described as those who are problem solvers, who are selfless, who put the company first, who want to grow others, who are team players, and who are able to predict everyday hurdles and overcome them.

8. Interviewers are just as prone to feeling badly about rejection as the interviewee is. Show the interviewer that you care and you’re more than 50% there.

9. In a job interview setting when an employer is making a decision about competency and fit within an organization, the most successful candidates displayed consistent vocal tone and maintained fluid body movements.

10. When giving answers, don’t second guess yourself. Rather, explain things in a thorough, honest and positive manner. It’s the best we can do. We can’t control what an interviewer does, but we can control how we act.

11. Adapt to the interviewer’s style; don’t ever expect an interviewer do adapt to your personality. Some interviewers will just want the answers and that’s what you should give them. Others will want to have a casual conversation, so schoomze with them.

12. Never take the way an interviewer conducts an interview personally. Rather, consider it to be their sense of interviewing style and have faith that the interviewer is smart enough to pass you through to the next round

13. People like to hear their names. It’s like music to our ears. We come across as more assertive and personalized when we address people by their first names.

14. Thank the interviewer for their time. Too often, we think about how important our time is, but don’t realize that everyone thinks that way. Always make sure to follow up with an email thanking the person and including notes on some of the takeaways and thoughts you have from the interview.

15. People love sincere compliments. Find something that you like about the firm.

In the End

Accomplished interviewers are never satisfied with their current knowledge and continually seek every opportunity available to gain new, pertinent knowledge. They understand that the secret of success is to try to always improve yourself no matter where you are or what your current position is and future aspirations are.

3 Things I Suggest You Do While Interviewing

6 Things To Never Say During An Interview

Believe it or not, it only takes one sentence to turn a great interview into a lost employment opportunity. After 10 years of running a recruiting firm, I can tell you that interviewers actively seek out the negative traits in the job seekers whom they meet.

Be aware that the following sentences and phrases turn employers off and, thus result in wasted time meeting with the hiring manager. Therefore, it’s imperative to focus on avoiding the following statements, questions and phrases.

1. “I want to own my own business.” An entrepreneurial ambition is an aspiration best left unsaid. While it’s a productive goal, hiring managers interpret it as quite the opposite. They don’t see ambition, but rather a potential threat.

Primarily this is due to the fact that employers fear turnover and stolen proprietary information.

Not only do turnovers carry heavy opportunity cost (managers don’t want to invest time in those whom they feel may be a future flight risk), but they also leave the organization open to insider information being leaked. The last thing a firm wants or needs is to train a future competitor.

2. How am I doing? Employers want to hire those who are confident. When you ask for feedback during the interview, not only do you leave yourself open to having to confront negative assumptions, you also come across as insecure which is a byproduct of being ineffective. Moreover, you look weak when asking this question. Interviewers gravitate towards employees who display strength. Begrundgingly or gladly, we respect people who display strength and self-assurance.

3. “Like” and “Um.” These interjectory phrases allude to the inability to concentrate or think on one’s feet. Especially for higher level positions, these unnecessary verbal connectors are sometimes associated with a lack of intelligence or lack of interest. Additionally, interviewers can read this as a sign of inefficiency and inability to apply critical thinking skills.

These interjections can also hurt your tone of voice and ability to persuade as most interviewers will respond positively to vocal consistency. It can bore the audience when you attempt to elaborate on your answers. Finally, saying “um” and “like” will lead to the interviewer shying away from their main points and losing brevity in their statements.

4. “What does your company do?” This is the holy grail of things to never say during an interview. There is no more effective way to turn an interviewer off than to ask this inquiry. It shows a blatant disregard for their time and alludes to a poor work ethic. Researching specific facts about a company gives the impression that you are thorough in your work, interested in the position and fully invested in getting the job.

5. “I need to make x amount of dollars.” The most important lesson in persuasion is that you can’t expect others to care about what you want. If you desire to become more persuasive, get in the habit of addressing the concerns of others before asking about your needs. The most effective interviewees give the hiring manager what they want first, then speak about money later. As a result, they end up getting more money.

6.  How long is this interview going to take? People always strive to feel important and the interviewer is no different. Show that they are not a priority and you’ve just wasted your time as this will inevitably (in the majority of circumstances) turn the individual off to your needs.

In the End

If you’re going to go out of your way to interview, make it worth your while. Execute by avoiding common pitfalls described above and you’ll be well ahead of the game.