Is this you?
You have never felt quite comfortable in the job market, asking for help with your journey, or explaining to your networking connections what your next step is likely to be. As regards your network, you don’t often ask for help.
You are okay when you are researching job postings, filling out online applications, or refining a resume that illustrates what you used to do, where you have been, and what you have done—but writing a cover letter authentically describing what you want to do, where you want to work, or how your past connects with your future, not so much.
You get interviews, but don’t like or warm up to the interviewers or their questions.
You apply for jobs when the posting sounds interesting, even if you aren’t familiar with the job family, terminology, profession, or company.
The job often sounds interesting but the company culture or the fit is all wrong for you.
You want to make sure you have seen all your options before you make the leap to a less than perfect fit.
You are starting to imagine a different future than the one that you have been pursuing—maybe a complete turnaround, to something you haven’t considered until now.
You have turned down three or more interviews or jobs, including applications you have withdrawn before you were offered the job.
Here’s the thing.
It’s time to land the plane. You are finding ways to avoid commitment. You are actually not looking for the right job—or any job.
I don’t know how many ways this pattern of avoidance can go wrong from a mental health point of view. But I do know these things:
Your destination is on the ground, not in the clouds. You have to land the plane to get started on the work of the work, which is different from the job. A job is a relationship with an organization, with others who are committed to getting something done, a service, a product, a plan. The work is the activity or collection of activities that form a profession, a process, a role, or in general, a contribution to the whole.
There is no ideal job anymore—no one finds the perfect place, pay, people, or projects. Everyone compromises on the ideal in order to be current and learning and economically stable.
Not all that long ago, Gallup did a study of best places to work, and determined that they are marked by this: their employees like the people they work with, trust the people they work for, and take pride in what they do. You can choose to like, trust, and take pride in your work—it is, in fact, up to you to do so.
You should not respond to an online posting if you do not know a lot about the company, the work, and (not or) the upside and the downside implications of that job forevermore appearing as the next job on your resume. Think about that. Upside and downside. Where do you do after that job? Why?
Whatever you are doing behind that computer screen, stop it and go to places where there are stimulating working people who make you laugh and think.
When you interview or network, force yourself to find the very best things about the people who cared enough and had enough interest in you to invite you to learn more about them. Just decide you like them and think of them as good, kind, and helpful. Do not test them. Do not find them imperfect. Do not imagine them being their worst selves. Imagine you can depend on them, see them daily, and learn to like them very much. They have moms, dads, siblings, and pets—just like you. Good days and bad days,
I used to tell job candidates who were not sure about the leap to imagine what it’s like when they bring all of their skills to the party—not what is it like now, but what would it be like if you taught us everything you know and showed us your personal leadership in the thing you are good at. Think about that—how can you make it better?
At the end of the day, there is very little that “feels” right about a new place, new job, new friends, and new work to do every day. It’s a commitment to make it all less new and more familiar. You cannot stay up in the air.
Land the plane.