I have never been able to talk a client out of taking the first job they’re offered, even when it’s the wrong job. I keep wondering why. Am I that bad a coach that they just don’t believe that there’s another job on the horizon?

Impatience and fear

I don’t think so. I think the problem arises from two traits of human nature – impatience and fear. Let’s take impatience first. You’re in a job you hate and you can’t wait to get out of there, so you take the first job offer that comes to you – even when you know it’s still not the right job. You’re impatient; you just can’t wait one more week or one more month. And then you realize you’ve made a mistake.

Then there’s fear. Maybe you’ve been out of work for a while and you’re desperate. You feel like it’s been years when it’s been months. You’re losing self-confidence, thinking that if I were any good, I’d have a job by now. When it’s more like, I’ve been looking for a while, sending résumés everywhere, and I’ve never had one call back. Of course that’s devastating. It also means that you’ve been practicing your interviewing skills, learned a thing or two about résumés and cover letters, and networking. You feel like there’s this one critical job search skill you’re missing, and you finally figure it out (and it’s probably networking related – maybe your pitch). I’ve seen this happen so many times.

You get some traction

We get that one thing straightened out and you get some traction. And it’s just been sooo long since anybody asked you for even a phone interview – and you get one. And you kind of like the job. It’s not really a field you’re interested in, but it’s a job. You’re not sure that it will lead anywhere. And you have interviews with other companies. You like some of these companies better. One is a better fit culturally; in another you’ll get to use your favorite skills. But you’ve been out of work. And it’s scary. And you get the offer from the job that’s okay. And you take it. And a week later you get an offer from one of the other companies. I’m not kidding. It happens all of the time.

But, the fear, it’s real. The overwhelming fear that you’ll never hear from those other jobs, so you have to take the one that’s in front of you right now. Or you’ll go broke, or never get another job.

You are good enough to find work that works for you

That fear is rooted in the belief that you’re not good enough to get those other jobs. That it’s been so long since you’ve had a job (even if it’s been 6 weeks) no one wants you anymore. And it’s just not true. Here’s what’s probably happening. It’s a slow hiring season (summer or Christmas) and you just can’t wait. September and January come and hiring picks up – if you’ve trusted yourself enough to keep looking. Or, you’ve been looking in the wrong places and now you’re search is aligned correctly and you just need to give it time.

Or you haven’t hit critical mass in applying for the right jobs for you. I tell my clients who are writers that they have to get a certain number of rejection letters before they get published. Those tales of dozens (or hundreds of rejection letters) before a writer finally gets published are true. What’s happening after every rejection? That writer is writing some more and getting better. Same is true for your pitch and your résumé and your answers to interview questions. The more you do, the better you get.

Trust yourself

I know it’s hard to wait. It’s hard to trust yourself, to trust that you’ve been doing the right things. It’s even hard to believe that you’re just as valuable now as you were when you left of lost your last job. And, hello! If you’ve been reading up on your field, or taking an online class, or learning new skills, you’re more valuable than you were when you left your last job!!

Don’t settle. Really, don’t. Have faith in the work you’ve put into yourself and that your job search will pay off. I’m going to keep trying to convince you to wait because I believe in you. One day, I’ll succeed.

Read. Learn.

4 Tips for a Successful Job Search