It can be disconcerting and stressful to watch people younger than you land the jobs you wish you could have had. And if you have been searching for a while and think you are better qualified, desperation can start to creep in.

In interviews, showing that you want the job too badly can be a mistake. The interviewer will be casting his or her mind forward to imagine having you on board and working with you and if your answers to questions reveal concern or anxiety, the less likely you will be assessed as having what it takes to handle the job.

Further, employers want to be certain to hire people who demonstrate resilience, that is, the ability to cope with setbacks and bounce back. It is not enough to be on top of your game when times are good; it is for your competencies and behaviours under stress when the going gets tough once you have the job that you are being considered.

Should you be offered the job, a sense of desperation can compromise your ability to negotiate satisfactory terms of employment. If your need for the job is greater than your need for security through adequate remuneration and benefits, you may too readily and too quickly accept an unsatisfactory package. And once hired, your leverage to negotiate a variation will be seriously diminished.

Actions speak louder than words. Just how do you avoid appearing overanxious when you may well be stressed and feeling desperate, an entirely normal response during a long and arduous, often frustrating job search? There are a few things you can do:

In setting goals, in this case getting the job you want, you can either focus on process goals (milestones on the journey) or on outcome goals (the desired job or destination). Someone wishing to climb a mountain, for example, can focus on the glorious moment they reach the summit, or they can pay attention to the training to get there i.e. the actions or process required to reach the goal.

Process goals (actions) required during a job search remain the same no matter how long you’ve been at it. Some of these actions, which can be enjoyable and engender a sense of achievement and relevance, are:
  • identifying openings and applying for jobs that match your skills and experience
  • attending networking events to understand potential employers and the state of the market
  • engaging with friends and maintain contact with ex-colleagues
  • reading to learn of developments in your area of interest or field
  • undertaking extra-curricular courses to maintain and improve your skills
  • continually revising and practicing your interview skills
Two major advantages come from focussing on process goals (actions):
  • even if you do not get a job you were keen on, small achievements from actions you have implemented along the way, will reduce frustration about the job search
  • once in a job, importantly, you will need to maintain many of these actions such as networking, upskilling, keeping abreast of developments; in doing so, you will be underpinning your future success

Successful people in this world – those that achieve their long-term goals – are those that remain committed to actionable and measurable day-day steps and activities.

It is no different for you when embarking on your job search: stay the course, enjoy the journey and celebrate reaching the destination.

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