How to stay confident whilst applying for jobs: 3 simple steps
Whilst writing out a blog post on How to get your dream job in wildlife conservation in 10 steps, it struck me how easy it can be to feel confident in hindsight, when you already know that things played out in your favor. However, at the time, it can be terrifying when things haven’t yet “worked out” or you’re not sure if all your hard work will pay off…
So today, we thought we’d write about how you can stay happy and maintain your self confidence whilst you’re in the trenches (only kidding!), knees deep, looking for jobs.
We look at 3 simple ways you can stay confident whilst stuck in the “job application” circle:
- know your worth
- make yourself a plan
- spend your time building your skills and experience
- Know your worth
It might be worth revisiting step one: define your dream job as this can help you remember your why: why you have the skills and experience to get your dream job (or your willingness to learn them), and why you have the passion and the vision to get you over the line.
Know that that’s yours, and no one can take it away from you. Know there’s nothing to worry about and you can feel confident in yourself and your abilities.
Of course, I understand this is easier when you feel validated by your job/work place but if you can take the steps to feel good now, it can help that role flow to you.
If you are struggling to feel confident whilst stuck in the vicious cycle of job applications, one approach (although a bit “airy fairy”) is to try reciting affirmations that are meaningful to you. For example, you could try –
“I am exactly where I need to be”
“What is mine, will not pass me by”
“I am confident. I am competent. I am worthy”
or make up your own – something that resonates with you and helps you to feel powerful, confident and content.
2. Make yourself a plan
One thing that really helps me stay calm and confident when I’m in an uncertain situation or waiting on news is to create a plan so that I can regain control of my life. Sure, you may have no control over timelines, decisions or communications of other people or organisations, least alone whether or not they even get back to you. But always remember you have complete control over your own decisions and actions.
I like to remember this, even when it feels like I have no idea what’s coming next.
One way I can do this is to make a plan and even structure parts of my day. For example, I will allocate several hours either at the start of each week, or even an hour or so each morning for “professional development”. In this time, I am searching for jobs, writing applications, updating my CV, looking for volunteer or network opportunities, signing up for courses. And I have to be strict with myself. Set a timer and treat it like work – not negotiable.
Although it might feel uncomfortable or frustrating when you first start, you might find that over time it becomes a part of your routine and you feel more comfortable in yourself and feel confident that you are putting time into getting yourself to where you want to be.
If you are after something more specific, and want to go one step further. Try and ask yourself this: “what would my day look like if I already worked in my dream job?”. And the magic happens when you start to structure parts of your day as if you have already received what you’re after. For example, if you want to work in a captive breeding program at the local zoo. I would give myself an hour or so of “professional development” on week days, starting at 9am. I might also look up the commute and work out how long it takes to get to the zoo each morning, what time I would need to leave my house, what time I would need to wake up on week days to complete my morning routine in time. If I wanted to join a social sport club, or pursue a hobby, I would look for sessions that started, say from 5pm after work would finish or on weekends.
Now of course you don’t have to stick to this religiously – but you can have some fun with it! And you never know – you might be surprised how quickly your new “routine” becomes your reality! It certainly won’t hurt to try it…
One of the best things this did for me was get people off my back: your friends, your family, volunteer supervisors or professionals you meet. Although they may mean well, I always found there was nothing worse than the pressure people add to your shoulders when they ask “have you found yourself a job yet?” or the negativity that comes from statements like “still looking for a job?”.
3. Spend your time building your skills and experience.
One of the main reasons I feel fearful when unemployed is because I worry “I might never get a job” and “I am wasting my time while I am not getting paid experience in my dream role”.
The best cure to this is to fill your time gaining new skills and experience, making new connections by meeting people who live and breathe your field with your biggest asset: volunteering your time.
There are so many wildlife conservation organisations singing out for help – and you can be their hero! By helping to rehabilitate injured wildlife at a shelter, assist university students with their PhD or Masters fieldwork, volunteering with a government’s environment department, a not-for-profit organization or a zoo or laboratory. Think about something that you are interested in and reach out.
We have a whole blog post about choosing the perfect volunteer experiences for you which you can read.
As a general rule, try and get a variety of different experiences that build several skill sets. For example, if you have an experience with mammal trapping, try bird surveys, or tree planting next. It is also incredibly valuable to build some longer-term experience or participate in a project from start to finish, for example you may do a full month-long stint tagging sea turtles.
You can also think about skills listed as required on the advertisements for jobs you would like and look at ways of doing them now. For example, you could sign up for a four-wheel-drive course, a first aid course, you could even go for a more specific qualification like a heavy rigid driving license.
One of the best things this step did for me was provide opportunities to participate and have fun, at no cost to me.
It helped me work out what I liked more and what I liked less so I could get more specific on what I wanted to focus my attention on.
On top of this, spending time building my skills and experience kept me busy and distracted me from my job search.
So trust me – this stuff works.
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