Combating “All or Nothing” Thinking Through the Job Search Process

Combating “All or Nothing” Thinking Through the Job Search Process
written by Career Peer Advisor, Alyssa Bekerman

Are you a graduating student who’s thinking something like “I’ll never find a job,” “I have no experience,” or “I need to have this specific job landed before graduation?” Expecting to have a certain job lined up before graduation can create unhealthy frustration, and believing you won’t find a job ever is nerve-wracking. Figuring out what you want to do post-DU and trying to find any job, especially one you’d like, is already difficult enough on its own. That’s why it’s essential to have realistic expectations. Here are some tips on how to calm these all-or-nothing career thoughts and hopefully reduce your stress through the job search process.

Accept that you most likely won’t have your dream job lined up before graduation.

While it might be an ideal scenario to tell your family and friends about the dream job offer you’ve received weeks before graduation, it’s important to recognize and accept the possibility that this won’t happen. Accepting that the job process may not turn out exactly how you expect it to or want it to be is essential to reducing your anxiety and having realistic expectations.

Focus on your strengths and the worth of all your experiences.

If you feel like you won’t ever find a job, it’s possible you’re feeling that you have no relevant or worthwhile experience. Firstly, it’s important to recognize that all of your academic, internship, extracurricular, and volunteer experience is valuable. Our experiences and skills do not dictate our worth. Having a negative self-impression hinders motivation to find a job, because it can keep you in a negative spiral of self-talk. Instead, focusing on your strengths can provide more positive self-talk and encourage you to keep moving forward in the job process. For example, instead of thinking “I’ll never find a job,” consider positively re-framing this thought to “Although I am worried that I haven’t yet found a job, I can capitalize on my networking strengths to continue talking with people in my field of interest and deepen connections that can help me in my job search.”

Expand your perspective of what a job worth taking is.

Seeking a job with all-or-nothing thinking limits your options, regardless of whether you are perceiving that you’ll never find a job or that you must have your dream job right away. This kind of tunnel vision can create unrealistic positive or negative expectations of what your life will look like after graduation. Acknowledge that you may not find a job right away and that eventually you will find a job. No one can say for certain when that will be or what the job will be, but it’s important to consider numerous job possibilities. For example, if you’re hoping for a marketing job with your favorite Denver sports team, it’s important that you consider broadening your job search to include a variety of different companies and sectors. Perhaps an entry-level job with a boutique marketing firm will be what opens the door for your dream job in sports later on. Determining what a job worth taking is goes beyond a specific company or industry you’d want to work for; consider what tasks you might accomplish, what skills or experiences you might gain, or if a company aligns with your values. Such considerations can greatly expand your potential opportunities.

All-or-nothing thoughts often negatively affect one’s mental health and emotional well-being. They can make the job process much more frustrating and anxiety-provoking than it needs to be. Feeling stressed about finding a job, especially one you would like, is a normal and valid response. And it is anxiety-provoking, especially when considering the financial necessities of work. But having a rigid mindset on finding a certain type of job right away or believing you’ll never find a job can reduce your motivation and slow down the process. Rather than fall into this mindset, aim to have expanded and realistic expectations throughout the job search process and focus on your positive attributes. Doing so can bring forth a sense of hope, openness, patience, and acceptance that is vital in reducing your frustration and nerves in what is already a difficult process.

By Stacey Stevens
Stacey Stevens Executive Director, Employer Connections & Alumni Career Engagement