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Six fears to overcome when applying for a job

By Andrew Bredin, Regional Managing Director of Hays North West

The perfect job can sneak up on you out of the blue. Perhaps you weren’t even looking, but suddenly you found the perfect job. An opportunity that has made you questions whether you are truly happy in your current role. Maybe you’ve even updated your CV and written a cover letter. But something is stopping you from hitting send. What is it?

The prospect of changing jobs is scary, especially if a new role wasn’t even remotely on your radar before now. You thought you were perfectly happy as you were, and you weren’t mentally prepared for making a career move. As such, fear of the unknown, limiting self-beliefs and “what if” scenarios have started running through your mind, and now they are holding you back from taking that leap of faith.

So how can you feel the fear, and apply for that job anyway?

Fear #1: All your skills don’t match up

Do you feel like you aren’t “good enough” for the job? And if so, why? Is it because you think that you don’t fit 100% of the criteria set out in the job spec? Because if so, ask yourself whether you actually want to move to a job you already know inside out. Wouldn’t you rather take on a role which challenged and upskilled you? These are the roles that will help progress your career. Of course there may be skills which are absolutely essential to the role, and there’s no escaping that. However hiring managers are often flexible when a candidate lacks a “desired” rather than a “required” criteria. Furthermore you can emphasise on your CV that you have the soft skills needed to pick up new concepts quickly, such as being inquisitive and a fast learner.

Fear #2: You’re new to the industry

Is the industry of the role new to you? Perhaps the job description contained some industry jargon which threw you, further confounding your worry that you’re a complete outsider.

Remember, everyone has to start somewhere – even the most renowned industry experts will have most likely started out feeling exactly the same as you do right now. Furthermore, switching industries can be a great career move and one you should brave from time to time. How else will you broaden your expertise and adaptability? What’s more, how will you find out what you are truly passionate about?

Employers will often embrace the fresh perspective of an industry outsider, just so long as they immerse themselves in this industry and improve their knowledge on the job. As such, you can tweak your CV and highlight in the personal statement that you want to learn more about this industry and why.

Fear #3: You lack confidence

Believing that you can’t compete with the competition is a very common fear, especially when applying via platforms where you can see how many other people have applied, such as on job boards and LinkedIn.

For some reason you assume that these other applicants are all so much more qualified, and that you don’t stand a chance. Well, if you are going to assume the worst, why don’t you also assume the best? Maybe the hundreds of applications received were a case of quantity over quality, and that yours will be one of the few quality CVs received.

Building your self-confidence when applying for job, is all about forming and projecting a more positive perception of yourself. If you feel hesitant in applying, give yourself a pep talk, and remind yourself of all you have achieved in your career. Write down everything you have to offer which makes you a good fit for the role. I would also advise identifying the keywords used to describe the ideal candidate on the job description, and including these keywords wherever possible on your CV. Not every candidate will think to do this, and keyword optimisation to emphasise your suitability may well set your CV apart.

Fear #4: Change is scary

Given that this opportunity came somewhat out of the blue, the sudden prospect of leaving your comfort zone can be pretty overwhelming, not to mention daunting. You’re probably remembering just how much change is involved in moving jobs; a new commute, different colleagues, unfamiliar tasks and so forth. And suddenly sticking with what you know feels much safer and more sensible.

Firstly, safer isn’t always better, and if you want to move forward in your career, you will need to take a leap of faith every now and again. Secondly, stop getting ahead of yourself! You are only applying for a job right now and that’s it. If you start to think about all of the “what ifs” later down the line, then of course you are going to feel intimidated. Take it one step at a time, but be bold and courageous each time you get a bit further along in the application process.

Fear #5: The timing isn’t right

It never is.

If you think the timing is off because you’re just about to get a promotion, pay rise or excellent training opportunity, then it’s important to realise that these are all factors which can be negotiated with your potential new employer during the later stages of the interview process.

Or is it that you feel that your company needs you right now, and to abandon ship would be disloyal and you would risk burning bridges? Perhaps you’re midway through an important project that your boss needs you to complete, or maybe your team are thin on the ground. Either way, it’s natural to feel guilty about.

But think about it – how would your boss react if they found their perfect job opportunity? If they’re focused on their own career progression, as we all should be, then they probably wouldn’t think twice about going for it – there’s nothing to lose. Also, remember that your notice period is there for a reason, so that your work can be handed over and your successor can be found. There’s nothing for you to feel guilty about. When it comes to your career progression, you have to put your own needs first, even if it does feel selfish.

Fear #6: It’s too perfect

Many of us believe that “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Whilst this cynicism may stop us from getting swindled when buying a new car or signing up to a gym membership, this mind-set is essentially pointless when applying for a new job. After all, you aren’t parting with your hard earned cash, just an hour of your time filling in a job application – time that would otherwise be spent watching TV. You have nothing to lose here by applying.

The fact that this job vacancy has caught your eye and your mind keeps wandering back to it, even though you weren’t looking, goes to show that this must be a good opportunity. The only thing stopping you from seizing it with both hands is your fear. As understandable as this is, you can’t and won’t move forward in your career without making a bold change from time to time.

For more information on your employment needs, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

After a career in professional cricket Andrew joined Hays in London in 1987 as a trainee consultant within the Construction & Property business. He rose to the position of Managing Director of that business in the UK, a position he held until 2011.

Andrew was then appointed Regional Managing Director of the North West Region of Hays UK, responsible for 21 different businesses. This region has been one of the most consistently successful in the UK, in terms of both fee and profit growth. He has also retained responsibility nationally for the Construction & Property business and has both the national Finance and Education leads reporting into him. In 2017 he was also appointed Regional Managing Director of Hays Scotland, alongside his other responsibilities.

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