Is there an imaginary parrot on your shoulder incessantly chattering in your ear that “you are never going to get a job, it’s just too difficult in this market”?   Would you like a proven method for silencing that parrot so you can help maintain your self-belief, optimism and resilience while job hunting?

The vast majority of university leavers feel they have the skills required to get jobs but worry it is more difficult than ever to find work, according to new research by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU).  It’s tough finding a job right now, however employable you are.

A way to return to a positive mindset and more confidence is, firstly, to recognise when that parrot on your shoulder is giving you a hard time (and it will at some point); secondly, to acknowledge how he makes you feel; and thirdly, challenging the truth of it through being logical and objective.

Where’s the evidence for your belief?  What would the opposite look and sound like?   Who does your parrot remind you of? In what situations do you notice this voice?   What do you do to feed your parrot?  Write these things down whenever the parrot appears.

Here’s a process you can use to challenge any irrational or self-limiting belief (adapted from the work of Bryce Taylor) using your job hunting challenge as an example:

  1. My activating event: A job/role you want is advertised.  You read that 100 people are applying for each job in your (desired) sector or area of expertise.
  2. My irrational belief: “I’ll never get this job.”
  3. My underlying beliefs: “There are too many people who will be going for this job; they will be better than me; I’ve applied for so many jobs like this before, it’s not worth it.”
  4. Predictable consequences that follow: “I’ll walk away/won’t apply/go through the motions/wish I hadn’t seen it.”
  5. Challenges to my irrational beliefs: “Somebody has to be successful.  Where is the evidence that I’m not good enough?  It has been their loss so far.  My unique offer is exactly what this employer is looking for, it’s they just don’t know it yet.  It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy if I don’t apply.  I can take what I’ve learned from previous applications and make an even better case this time.  I can learn from every experience.  It will be good practice. There will be more opportunities.  Giving up is not an option.  I owe it to myself.”  
  6. Successful effect: Renewed energy, positive intent, more relaxed approach, self-esteem intact.

Get a good friend to help you talk through this process if you find it difficult to do alone.

I’d really love to hear how you get on, so please leave a comment!