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Is Your Mindset Killing Your Job Search?

"My friends don't want to hear about my job search."

"All I ever get is rejections."

"Oh, that award? Yeah, that was no big deal."

Job hunting is tough, and disappointment happens. But when you let negative self-talk have the stage, you run the risk of turning off potential employers -- and worse, selling yourself short.

Are you setting yourself up for failure before you ever even land an interview? Avoid these common mental job hunt mistakes that could be stifling your search:

Downplaying Your Accomplishments

Every employer you will ever contact has the same question: "What can this person do for us?"

Companies hire because they need particular skill sets, personalities, or abilities at particular times. When they hire, they're looking for the person who brings the right skills, attitude, and potential to the position. As a result, hiring managers want the person who can do the most for them -- and they won't realize that you are that person unless you make it resoundingly clear.

Sit down and list your accomplishments in every job you've held. Think about your work in terms of what you completed and how it helped your employer -- not just in terms of what you received public recognition for completing. For example, if you added six new clients to the roster in your first three months, list this accomplishment, even if your boss said nothing (or even took credit for it!).

It's very common for job seekers to downplay their accomplishments. You're wading into competition with many other talented professionals in your field. In interviews, you're talking to fellow professionals as well, many of whom sport resumes that you deeply admire. In this context, it can be too easy to see your own work as "no big deal."

Resist it. Own your achievements and show them off. When employers ask "what can this person do for us," the answer will be clear: "everything!"

Looking for "Just Any Job"

Perhaps you launched your job search with big dreams and specific goals. But the longer you're on the market, the more tempting it can be to take a job -- any job -- just to end the search. While flexibility and openness are key, you'll sabotage your own career success and personal happiness if you let "I'll give this a try" turn into "I'll take anything."

This sabotage might manifest in any number of ways. You might, for example, fail to research a company or its industry before an interview -- if you don't care about the job, why bother? Or you might send a "one-size-fits-all" resume and cover letter to dozens of potential employers, on the assumption that more coverage is better. Worst of all, you might take the first offer that comes along, no matter how poor the fit is -- only to find yourself right back on the job market a few months later when you've discovered that you hate the workplace and the job is intolerably boring.

Remember, you're not looking for "just any job." You're looking for your job: The job that advances your career, the one you'll want to spend half your waking hours pursuing. While that can mean taking a temporary position or a short-term gig, it should never mean sacrificing your career path.

Hating On Yourself

Downplaying your accomplishments in front of employers is one very public way to hate on yourself. But there are more private ways, too -- like giving free rein to the negative voices in your head.

Every job search has its ups and downs. You might nail an interview, only to hear nothing from the employer as days stretch into weeks. You might submit a resume to a company you love, only to hear "sorry, we don't think you're the right fit." Worse, you might submit a resume only to hear nothing at all -- as if all your hard work on that application fell into a black hole the moment you clicked "send."

These setbacks do not mean you are a bad person. They mean that this company was not the right place for you -- because the skills needed are different from yours, because the culture wouldn't support your best work, or because the company doesn't care enough about its applicants to send a form "thanks for your application" email.

It's okay to feel disappointed or frustrated -- for a short time. When a rejection arrives, give yourself 10 minutes to feel every emotion that arises, whether positive or negative. Express these in healthy ways, such as by writing them down, yelling them at the wall, or exercising vigorously. Then, let them go and move on. You're not wrong -- the job was wrong for you.

Trying to Go It Alone

The longer you're on the job market, the harder it gets to have conversations with well-meaning loved ones who want updates. "Still looking" becomes the hardest phrase to say. Frustrated and sensitive about being bad company, you might start shutting yourself away instead of reaching out.

Resist the urge. Instead, talk about what you've discovered during your job search, which companies you're currently looking at, and why you want to work for them. You might spark a memory or connection in the minds of your friends. Even if you don't, the human connection built through conversation will help keep your spirits up.

Also, don't hesitate to seek the assistance of a recruiter in your job search. The more you know about what you're looking for, the easier it is for your staffing partner to match you with companies that offer it.