Edited from a newsletter article by Marc Cendella, Founder & CEO, TheLadders.com
Good morning, It all went so wrong, so very, very wrong — right from the start.
You left your notepad with your hand-written questions at home; you were a half-hour late to the interview; and you finished it off by saying "I think my background and experience make me uniquely suited to making a big contribution here at Avis," which was a good point, except you were interviewing at Enterprise.
You had a bad day in the job hunt. A really bad one. You feel embarrassed, and you're starting to wonder if anybody is ever going to be foolish enough to hire you.
I know what it's like to completely and utterly bomb the interview — the humiliation and the self-doubt and the worry that you're never going to find a new job because maybe, just maybe, you don't really deserve one.
And I know the anxiety that causes you to question yourself and feel like the whole system is set up to frustrate and defeat you.
And I'd like to tell you that it's easy to just brush it off and get back up and get going again.
But it's not.
Because while goof-ups are a natural part of the process anytime we're trying to do something new — a new golf swing, a new sport, or finding a new job — and we should just take them in stride, that's one of those things that is easier said than done.
In the job hunt, we feel that too much is at stake, there's too much on the line, for us to just shake it off.
And that's the problem.
The day after a "bad" day, the average job-seeker only does half as much for their job hunt as they normally do. They only send out half as many resumes, make half as many calls, and do half as much research as they normally do.
It's understandable. You're embarrassed, you're feeling foolish, you're having doubts about your abilities. All because of that bad day.
Shakespeare, as usual, may have said it best:
Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.
Our doubts are traitors, indeed. They sit there on your shoulder, bend your ear, and whisper negative thoughts into your head. Which is a shame, because that same research shows there is a direct correlation between activity in the job hunt and finding your next job. So in a way, the little buggers whispering negative things in your ear are directly undermining your chances of success.
Of course, when you sit back to think about it, this reduction in activity the day after a bad day is absolutely 180 degrees different from the advice you'd give to somebody you care about, when they are facing a similar situation.
The day after your daughter falls off her bike while she's learning to ride without training wheels, you don't tell her to try only half as hard today.
And when your college buddy, who needs to drop more than a few pounds, blows his diet at Outback Steakhouse with the Bloomin' Onion, the 22-ounce Melbourne Steak and that dang delicious Chocolate Thunder from Down Under, you don't tell him it's OK to only try half as hard to stick to the diet today.
No, you tell the people you care about that the past is the past, and today is a new day, and they should do something new with it.
So here's the good news. While the average job-seeker only puts half as much effort into their job hunt the day after a bad day, it's important for you to remember:
You're not the average job-seeker.
Most of you have earned in the top 10% of the American workforce and the top 1% globally. You got here because you're effective at dealing with business problems, and you've shown the leadership and management ability to overcome tough situations.
It's often said that finding a job is a job in itself. If that's the case, why shouldn't you treat a bad day on the job hunt the way you treated a bad day at the office? When the big sale was slipping away, or the budget was late, or the database crashed, or the agency hadn't turned around the work on time, you didn't sit back. You leaped into action.
And that sense of competence in overcoming the day-to-day problems of your past jobs is the same sense of capability and effectiveness I'd like to ask you to bring to your job hunt.
The day after a bad day, especially the day after you've really, totally, completely blown it, treat it just like you would any challenge you face in business. Don't cut your effort in half ... Double it.
And what I can tell you from experience — is that you will find your next great role in life. Sometimes the road is long, and winding, and twisted, and the destination feels like it is forever just out of sight, but from watching countless candidates find their next job, I can tell you that you, too, will find yours.
So this morning, I want you to banish those traitorous doubts, and show them who's really boss, by doubling your efforts. I'll be rooting for you.
Marc Cenedella*, Founder & CEO, TheLadders.com