How to be patient in your job search

I was chatting with a client. They had just pressed send on an application. The job, on paper, seemed perfect for them, met their criteria 100% - a rarity in the job searching world. They were excited, nervous and proud of themselves. They got in touch a few days later full of doubt. 

As is often the case, when we apply for a job we are excited, on the whole at least. There are some people who apply for roles they don’t really want in order to get interview practice, but, they often don’t make it that far so it’s not something I recommend! Anyway, I digress. We see a role, think we could do it, even if we aren’t 100% sure, apply and then wait. 

Uncertainty in your job search leads to impatience

I find that it is in this uncertainty that impatience and doubt creep in. Why haven't they called yet, it's been three days! What if I don’t get called for an interview? What if I am not right for the role? Maybe I don't want it after all?, maybe I will just stay where I am for now. We're so used to getting instant gratification and having information at our fingertips that when we don't, it's hard.

If you have put in an application for a role and are waiting to find out I would firstly say that feeling nervous and impatient is totally normal. You might also experience feelings of frustration, doubt, and unworthiness. It’s all fear. It could be fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of change. It’s all normal and it’s all untrue. Those feelings are in one sense designed to protect us, but they can go into overdrive and actually derail us. 

My client was talking herself out of it. The closing date had passed by one day and she was saying things like ‘oh well, it doesn’t matter, I tried’ and ‘if I don’t get the job I can do x’. I challenged her and said ‘but you haven’t heard yet - remember it’s not over til it’s over’. In my experience, if you haven't heard two to three weeks after the closing date, that’s the time to assume you haven’t got through. That said, I have heard people hear back after 8 weeks, but that is the exception rather than the rule. 


The emotional rollercoaster of job searching

The job searching process is fraught with emotion. You go through the full range of joy and excitement through to disillusionment and frustration. From looking for jobs to getting through an interview it can be a rollercoaster ride. The thing that almost everyone forgets is patience. 

Remember it's a process

Sometimes you can do everything right and it still be a waiting game. And it is a game. A process. A process you have no control of. Taking my client’s application - we talked about the fact that once the closing date came the applications would need to be reviewed and separated into yes, maybe and no piles. This might be done by a person or a computer depending on the company.

Then the yes and maybe piles might be reviewed in more detail and sent on to other people who have a stake in the outcome. From here they might be shortlisted, this could take a couple of days or more, especially if there’s more than one person’s opinion involved. Then they would need to contact the candidate and arrange an interview date (unless there is one already stated on the application). This part of the process can take 2 weeks minimum. Even the interview process can take a week or so. 

There is lots of uncertainty in job searching

My point is that there are lots of moments of uncertainty and ample time to practice being patient. And it's hard to be patient. Mostly because you're probably applying for a job because you want a new job, be it for a change, an opportunity to grow, because financially and/or emotionally you need one. You're putting effort in and opening yourself up emotionally. Job searching requires you to be vulnerable because you're applying knowing that you might not be successful…which is why a growth mindset is so important. As is resilience. 

It's likely that you've already had at least one job, from a paper round as a teenager to a c-suite role, most of you reading this will have had to look for a job and go through the process at least once. This is the time to draw upon your own experience. Think about what you did that was successful and how you may have been unsuccessful before finally landing a job. You've done this before and you can do it again. 

5 tips for staying patient in your job search

Now then, you probably clicked on this article because you're finding it hard to be patient. So let me give you some tips. 


Acknowledge the feeling

In noticing that it's impatience coming up you can remind yourself that it is completely normal to feel this way. Everyone gets impatient. It's going to sound weird but forgive yourself for feeling this way and thank the universe for the lesson! 

Pay attention to the fear

The other thing is noticing the fears that come up and then challenging them. The more you feed your fears, the more your mindset moves to fixed instead of growth and we start blocking our own way. 

Do something that fills you with joy

Whilst finding a job is important, it can't be your focus 24/7 because you also need to fill your cup - mentally, emotionally and physically. I'd recommend setting time aside to search for a job and if you're waiting to hear back, try not to think about it at all. (I know easier said than done!). Relax and do something just for you if you can.

Remember your worth

When you've been searching for a long time it's easy to doubt yourself. It's normal to make things up in your mind to explain why you haven't heard back, why you didn't get called for an interview or why you weren't chosen for the role. Remember it's not personal, and not a reflection of your value. Use the time that you have to update your CV with results based statements and use interviews to demonstrate how you'd add value. I'd also recommend some affirmations to keep your mind focused on where you want to be.

Manage your own expectations

Often the root of impatience is when an expectation doesn't meet reality. I always tell people that under 'normal' conditions it takes 3-6 months to find a new role. This can be longer if you're making a career change.

My final thought on this would be that for most people, your job search will result in a job, it's just a question of when. If you're doing all you can then know that you've played your part, now it's time to be patient and trust that it will all work out in the end. 


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