How to Get Over the Fear of Starting the Job Search

 67% of employees in the U.S. are disengaged at work according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report. 

We’ve all been in jobs where we’ve been disengaged. But at the same time, we’ve all experienced dragging our feet to start looking for a new job.

Even if our current job is miserable, the thought of starting the job search is even more miserable. Thinking about everything you need to do like updating your resume, looking at job postings, and going through interviews is overwhelming.

But sometimes what’s really stopping us from earnestly pursing a better opportunity is fear of failure. The thought of putting ourselves out there to be evaluated by others for a new job produces anxiety and surfaces insecurities we just don’t want to deal with.

In the face of these fears, don’t think, just do.

Don’t think about the job search as a whole. Pick the immediate next step and blindly do it to start building momentum.

Here’s a good place to start:

Create your JRM (job relationship management) spreadsheet.

Chances are you’ve already been thinking about new jobs. Get it out of your head and in to a JRM (job relationship management) spreadsheet. This is a spreadsheet to help track and manage your job search. It’s a list of companies, roles, contacts you know at those companies, immediate next steps, and any additional notes you might want to include.

To make it as easy as possible for you to get started, here’s a Google Sheets template you can copy to get started immediately:

The template is really simple. Don’t worry about the format, you can always change it later. Just copy the columns over to your own spreadsheet and start typing. Once you start typing, thoughts and ideas will start to fill the cells.

If you still don’t where to begin, start typing names of companies that pop into your head. Just brain dump, don’t try to filter by how interested you are in a particular company. If a company pops into your mind, write it down.

Determine the smallest, most immediate next step

I want to specifically call out the “Immediate next step” column.

For each row, write down the one, smallest, most immediate next step for that company. Only write down one! This will create a manageable to do list for you to start doing, instead of thinking.

It could be as simple as, “Go to the company’s job page and write down one job I’m interested in.” It could also be to email a friend you know at that company to catch up over coffee or, listing three people on LinkedIn that work at the company with a mutual contact.

Once you write down a task, do it immediately. After you complete your first “immediate next step,” you’ve officially started your job search, congratulations!

Make changes to your JRM, later

Your job search will evolve as it progresses and so will your JRM. You might end up including more columns to capture other types of things that are important to you. These could be factors like the size of the company, geographic location, or the company’s financial performance. Don’t worry about including all of these dimensions up front, just start with the basic JRM template and add to it later.

If your job search is only in your head, it’s not a reality and it hasn’t even begun. Get it out of your head and into a JRM to take your first concrete step toward finding a better opportunity.