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2024 Virtual Return to Work Conference, May 14-16

6 Ways to Quiet Your Inner Critic During A Job Search

Being in a relaunch mode can drastically lower your self-confidence and suddenly whisk you out of your comfort zone.

By Sara Dickison Taylor

Sara Dickison Taylor, ACC, is an iRelaunch recommended coach and President & Founder, Celebrate Life by Design, LLC. A member of the International Coaching Federation, Sara holds a Bachelor of Arts from Colby College and is also a graduate of the internationally recognized Coach University. As noted in her bio, Sara studied her coaching craft with Dr. Martha Beck, renowned columnist for O Magazine and New York Times bestselling author.

Almost overnight, you are in unchartered territory, navigating a whole new world. The best and fastest way to silence an inner critic is from the inside out. How many times have you often second-guessed yourself during a job search, your mind a swirling storm of contradictions and negativity? And then when you least expect it, your inner critic rears its ugly head, often very loud and mean. Has a fear of judgment kept you playing small, forcing you to swallow your questions or ideas from one minute to the next? Here is a list of 6 steps you can put into ACTION and get back your search back on track, one confident step at a time.

1. Your Inner Critic Does Not Speak the Truth

Our inner critic is often fueled by fear and uncertainty; the amygdala/reptilian part of our brain that has protected us since the beginning of time. Up until now, it has served us well, often guarding us against danger. But it's important to not always take it at face value, especially during a job transition. Our inner dialogue becomes a mash-up of limiting beliefs that keep us playing safe and free of harm. When we humanize our inner gremlins, we appreciate their value and break free of their ability to keep us stuck in the same pattern.

2. Eavesdrop on Your Thoughts

What is the cognitive script you hear over and over in your mind, a constant loop of doubt and insecurity? Now bring your awareness to these inner dialogues and begin to witness common themes and recurring thoughts. Does he or she tell you you're not good enough, that you don't have adequate education, experience, the right credentials, etc. (fill in the blanks!) Many times, these voices from the past echo the same of a teacher or parent. Become mindful of what is being relayed on autopilot and rescript your responses. If your career break has been seemingly long in your perception, remind yourself of all the lessons learned during this time. Did you do extensive volunteer work at your children's school or serve as an advocate for a family member's health care? Where do you need to pay extra attention and underline your positive reframing? Awareness of these standard stumbling blocks is half the battle.

3. Connect with People Who Know and Love You

Asking for emotional support is so crucial during a job search and reaching out far and wide is critical. Ask friends, former colleagues, or those who appreciate your work product and reputation to offer up some accountability and be a member of your cheerleading squad. Surround yourself with like-minded and thoughtful supporters.

4. Replace Negative Self Talk with Hard Evidence

This is an excellent time to reconnect with past employers, read over old reference letters or peruse past emails describing a job well done. I often coach my clients to keep an active folder to collect/gather former reviews and references systematically. It's great to defend those job search blues with appropriate back-up and substantial evidence that you can do this; you'll be so happy you did!

5. Reframe Your Superpowers

We all have special and unique attributes we often take for granted. Now is a valuable time to focus on what makes you stand out from the crowd. Maybe you have always been the person to smooth the waters of communication in your past roles, a natural "go-to." Instead of focusing on your lack of recent experience, shine a light on what you have already accomplished in the past. Your superpowers are excellent armor and ammunition against that caustic inner voice.

6. Mind Your Mind

What are some of the lessons learned during this transition? Take small action steps in your job search and reflect daily on your truths and superpowers. Act with intention as you tune into your inner dialogues.

Don’t forget, you are in the driver's seat of "what's next” on the horizon! It's easy to fall prey to our inner critic during a job search, but exercising some of these doable tips can help dispel mounting anxiety or uncertainty. It's time to turn down the volume of limiting beliefs and step into possibility! Remember, YOU ARE ENOUGH… precisely as you are!!

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