self-doubt job search

Self-Doubt: Is It Plaguing Your Job Search?

Priscilla’s Disclaimer: Some content in this article was originally published in October 2014 and has been republished here with the addition of new content.

Upon publishing a previous article entitled, Oh, The Wait, I received a comment from Mr. John N. Frank of Always Be Job Hunting, which served as the inspiration for this article. He wrote:

“Long-term unemployment is so tough, but keep fighting the good fight. And always keep believing in yourself.”

Now, while his comment was encouraging, it also left me wondering: Do I still believe in my abilities and the value they’ll bring to a potential employer?

self-doubt job search
Self-Doubt: Is It Plaguing Your Job Search?
Unsplash Original Photo Courtesy of Niko Soikkeli. Edited by Priscilla.

An Example of Self-Doubt During the Job Search: My Experience

Sadly enough, upon pondering, I confessed: self-doubt, defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a feeling of doubt about one’s own abilities or actions,” had left me doubting my ability to get hired.

I informed you—in previous articles here—about my unemployment situation. I became actively unemployed suddenly.

But, here’s the thing: not once did I question my ability to land a job quickly—initially. I didn’t think I’d have any problems.

I was job hunting every day. I was interviewing when called. I was also reaching out to key professionals in my field.

Where Did the Self-Doubt Come From?

But, despite my best efforts, the job offer didn’t come—no matter how hard I worked. And, when my unemployment turned into long-term unemployment, self-doubt kicked in.

You can probably guess where my self-doubt came from, but, still, I’ll tell you: a focus on my inability to land gainful employment. With self-doubt came anxiety, too. And, I questioned myself, my abilities and my past decisions, over and over:

“Will I ever enter the field I studied for—in the way I planned? Should I have earned one of those most useful degrees?”

“Where have I gone wrong as an interviewee, as I’m struggling to find a job?”

“Will I ever secure paid work, in any industry, again?”

The questions didn’t stop there, either. When a significant amount of time passed, I honestly assessed and mulled over the following:

“Am I possibly unemployable? (I heard so much about the long-term unemployed being unemployable and rusty in terms of skills, I questioned its truth in my life.)”

“Am I good enough for the jobs of interest to me (the sum of all these questions combined)?”

I’ll admit: I was trapped in self-doubt thoughts. And they continued: “Why won’t anyone hire me? How will I earn legitimate money, if an employer never does?”

I hadn’t considered it at the time, but I’d labeled myself a failure because my best hadn’t been good enough to get a job offer. I always wrestled with myself, believing I could’ve done more—or could’ve been doing more.

Through one of my mulling experiences, though, I experienced an internal debate. One voice said, “Just stop and forget everything now.” But another spoke against it, saying: “Keep believing in your ability to get through this and generate an income. Things will work out.”

Just what I needed to get it together, wouldn’t you say?

This internal debate proved beneficial in 3 ways:

  • I relearned the following: had I made different decisions, I still might’ve ended up in this same situation because I don’t control the big picture of my life (God does).



As I move forward in my endeavors nowadays, the voice of self-doubt still wants to rule often. But, with effort, I circle back to my truth and keep it moving—every time.

Beware the Symptoms of Self-Doubt in Job Searching

When looking for a job, especially over an extended period, you experience self-doubt.

This self-doubt can have you constantly questioning everything you know, including your professional value. It can also cripple you to the point of inaction, if you’re not careful, so it’s important to recognize its symptoms for management purposes.

When you’re aware, you can faithfully challenge your doubts and reduce its ability to hold back your job search efforts.

So, below, I’ll identify 3 self-doubt symptoms to beware of. See if one or more are playing a role in your job search right now. (Remember though, I’m no therapist or mental health professional.)

self-doubt job search
Self-Doubt: Is It Plaguing Your Job Search?
Unsplash Original Photo Courtesy of Suhyeon Choi. Edited by Priscilla.

1.) You Run Low on the Courage Needed to Continue Forward With Action.

When you’ve been looking for a job over an extended period, you see more rejection than acceptance, despite your relevant qualifications.

Not only don’t you get jobs you applied for, but you also don’t know exactly why you didn’t get them.

Repeated rejection can quickly lead to feelings of discouragement and disheartenment. Can quickly lead to a diminished positive outlook. And, it’s not uncommon to think: if your knowledge, skills, and abilities were up to par, an employer would’ve hired you by now.

The likely result? A lack of the much-needed courage to apply for suitable jobs. Feelings of reluctance take over.

It’s easier to avoid the stress, fear, and failure of it all by not applying at all, right?

Not exactly. Here’s why: you’re not trying, when you avoid everything by not applying at all. And, here at Serenity Amidst Frustration, we’re all about putting forth our best efforts, regardless of outcomes.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in job hunting. And, you might wonder: will I ever get hired after being unemployed for a while? Will I get a job offer after receiving so many rejections?

But, still: keep it moving courageously (if you need a break to refresh yourself before moving on, take it!). Keep improving your job search activities and strategies. Keep developing your knowledge and skills. Keep researching and applying for suitable jobs. Keep exploring careers and alternative paths. Keep strengthening your faith. Keep learning and growing.

Doing these things will minimize the crippling effects of self-doubt in your job search.

2.) You Anticipate Rejection When You Apply for Jobs.

Being passed over for targeted jobs of interest—especially with no feedback—can wear you down. You can easily reach the point of expecting rejection. Of expecting the worst in your job search.

Want to know what happens when you anticipate rejection, though? One of two things: You see the rejection or silence coming and decide against applying to suitable jobs, feeling like you’ll never find a job. Or, you strive for perfection—though no human being on this earth right now is perfect—believing you won’t find employment without it.

Paralysis and perfection are extremities. They both add an extra layer of stress to an already stressful situation.

What’s important to remember is, you’ll encounter turn downs and hurdles in the search for your next position.

They’ll hurt, too.

I know.

But, don’t let them stop your pursuit. They’ll give too much control to your self-doubt.

Instead, consider detachment from job opportunities and outcomes. “. . . Create a flurry of job search activity,” says Liz Ryan, Founder and CEO of Human Workplace, in a Forbes article on job search rejection, “that you have to work hard to remember which companies you’re interviewing {or applying} with, where you are in the pipeline and other details.”

Now, I must warn you:

With anticipated rejection, it’ll take courage to do what Liz Ryan suggests.

Courage to reject the negativity from self-doubt spirals and tune into your inner encouragement.

Courage to hold your head up and keep going when things naturally look bleak.

3.) You Question Your Worth (or Whether You’re Good Enough For Any Job).

As if the toll of unemployment isn’t enough, there’s also the psychological effects of constant rejection in your job search. And, though you know you’re competent, skilled, and educated, the cycle of self-doubt leaves you believing you’re not good enough for any job.

Believing you must be the “purple squirrel”, or the perfect applicant or candidate for every targeted job of interest. This belief alone can send you into the states of paralysis or perfection.

You might even go from one state to the other—thinking you’re incompetent, inadequate, or unworthy of a job. Thinking something’s wrong with you because you’ve been job searching for a long time.

But, I want to re-emphasize something I always say here on Serenity Amidst Frustration (because it’s something I accepted along the way): your struggle to find a job has nothing to do with your worthiness.

There’s nothing wrong with you.

Remember, various factors come into play, when you’re searching for employment:

  • Labor Market Conditions


  • Labor Market Supply and Demand


  • Your Geographical Location


  • Your Local Market Conditions


  • Your Academic and Professional Background


  • Your Industry and Field


  • Your Ability to Commute



  • Company Culture and “Team Fit”

It takes some people longer than others to find a job.

So, never let the amount of rejections you receive influence your beliefs of others being better and more deserving of earning an income than you.

Instead, continue taking action toward your goal of a traditional job or independent work. While doing so, consider the following (if you haven’t already):

  • Reflect on Your View of Self. You’ve been dealing with unemployment, but you shouldn’t view yourself from a perspective of lack. Your challenges surrounding unemployment and your job hunt don’t define you as a person. (If interested, you can read more on this in my article, You Aren’t Them.)


  • Pay Attention to Your Thoughts. You want your thought life to be grounded in truth. When you know your truth, you’re in a better position to fight against the lies of nagging self-doubt.



  • Consider a Project of Interest for Skill Building. What’s one way to be productive (and positive) while you’re unemployed? Continuing your professional development. There are several ways to learn new skills and grow professionally. (I talk about this a lot here on the blog. One reference article is, 10 Principles for Staying Positive in a Lengthy Job Search.)

Is One (or More) of These Self-Doubt Symptoms Affecting Your Job Search?

If you answered yes, then don’t feel bad.

It means you’re aware of your self-doubt. And this is good news. Why? Because you’re in a better position to manage it.

Without management, it can leave you thinking you’re incompetent and unworthy of a new job or role. It can have you believing you’ll never earn an income again. It can negatively affect your job search efforts and activities.

With management, though, you can identify the voice of self-doubt when it comes. But, you won’t let it stop you from taking the daily actions you need to move forward.

In this article, I not only provide 3 symptoms of self-doubt but also a few tips for your evaluation and application, if you find them helpful.

Will it be an easy process? No.

But, I’d say: it’s worth it.

P. S. Which self-doubt symptom have you been experiencing in your job search? You can let me know via email at: