7 Practical Ways To Smash Through Fear and Anxiety When Job Hunting

smash through job hunting fear and anxiety

In this post, we’ll show you:

  • How To Stop Getting The Heebie-Jeebies Before Interviews
  • Why Your Anxiety Can Actually Improve Your Job Search
  • What Olympic Athletes Can Teach You About Crushing Fear And Being At Your Best

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear”

Fear is a bitch. You can be scared to apply for certain jobs because you think you’re not good enough, you’ll get the jitters and dread interviews because you reckon you will screw up and make a fool of yourself. Some of us will be too scared to even start job hunting because we think we’ll get rejected by everyone – so why bother?

Fear can seriously hold you back.

I used to be like that – paralysed by fear. When it was time for me to start looking for a graduate job, I put it off, I delayed it and I procrastinated – I gave myself the excuse that I was preparing but deep down inside, I was scared

Scared of screwing up, scared of not being good enough and scared of failing.

If you don’t watch it, fear can run rampant and control your life, making you too scared to do anything, let alone pick up the phone to a prospective employer and ask them for a job.

However, fear is a trickster – it may feel real, but its not real. As famous saying about fear puts it:


“FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real”

False Evidence Appearing Real


The notion that fear is ‘false evidence appearing real‘ is best exemplified by one of my favourite anecdotes originally told by Les Brown – it goes as follows:

The Boy And The Bulldog:

There was a boy who lived on a street where new neighbours had recently moved in. These neighbours had a bulldog.

Whenever the boy came home from school, this bulldog used to chase him down the street everyday.

Scared of being bitten he’d sprint home as fast as he could
and the bulldog would be right on his heels.

Tired and fed up of being hounded, one day the boy decided to stand up to the bulldog.

So when the dog began to run towards him, instead of sprinting away, the boy stopped to confront it.

However when the bulldog got closer and started barking, the boy noticed something very peculiar.

He realised the bulldog had no teeth in it’s mouth!

The dog couldn’t hurt him as it lacked teeth to bite him. All this time, there was no real danger.

The anxiety and fear that accompanies job hunting is like that bulldog: although it looks frightening and threatening – once you confront it, you realise it has no teeth.

Often when you try the thing you fear the most, you discover that it’s actually not as bad as you thought it was and that you were okay all along.


To help you get started, here’ s 7 practical ways to demolish fear:


1) Accept And Acknowledge That You Are Frightened

Being slightly anxious or a little bit scared when looking for a job is perfectly normal, it’s okay to feel this way. Pretty much everyone gets nervous at the start of a job search.

real courage is feeling fear and doing it anyway

Whilst it’s alright to accept feeling a little fear, it’s not okay to let your life be governed by fear: So accept, acknowledge and move on – as a popular saying goes: “Real courage is not fearlessness, real courage is feeling fear and doing it anyway”


2) Write Down 3 Strong Reasons Why You Must Get A Graduate Job

This will do two amazing things for you: 

  • It will give you the kick up your backside to get started
  • It will motivate you through the tough times

If you’re working towards a goal such as starting your graduate career, it’s been proven that writing it down makes you 33% more successful in achieving your goals.

Write Down 3 Strong Reasons Why You Must Get A Graduate Job

Make sure your reasons are strong and powerful, so no vague or wishy washy rubbish. They have to be something you ‘must do’, not something you ‘should do’. For example, my 3 personal reasons when I was job hunting were:

  • I must get a graduate job, because I need to get out of the cycle of unemployment and finally get a decent job
  • I must get a graduate job because I need to get out of this small town and establish my life in a bigger city, where there is more opportunity
  • I must get a graduate job so that I can kickstart my career and can stop relying on unstable temp jobs.

Whatever your reasons, there is no right or wrong, as long as it’s a must for you.


3) The “It’s Already Done” Approach

it's already done

Just imagine it’s already done and be as carefree as this guy!

This strategy is a mega-confidence boost. The way it works is simple – you visualise the end result – such as getting a graduate job and then you act as if it’s already been done.

For example, if you have an interview or a phonecall with a hiring manager – tell yourself you’ve already got the job, visualise that outcome and you will approach it completely differently.

You will find that you’ll become more relaxed and clear headed, having eliminated anxiety and vanquished fear (note: this is not an excuse to slack off – still work at your interviews, just be less anxious about it)


4) Confront The Fear Head On

Fear factor style, this strategy is basically whatever the fear, just go for it! As a popular saying goes: feel the fear and do it anyway

feel the fear and do it anywayPsychologists famously use this tactic to wean people off their phobias for example arachnophobics holding spiders, people with fear of heights climbing sky scrapers – or if you’re a graduate job hunter, taking that first step by picking up the phone and beginning to call prospective employers.

Whether it’s interview jitters or you’re procrastinating about applying for your dream job, just get started – once you begin, you’ll get into the flow and your fear will fall by the wayside.

5) Positive Visualisation: See It Happen

A tactic favoured by Olympic athletes, visualising is where you picture a positive outcome in your mind. The psychology behind it is this: you’re likely anxious and full of worry because you’re picturing everything that could go wrong – but what would happen, if you used that power to picture everything going right?

athlete focusing
Unlike the ‘it’s already done approach’ , you visualise every part of the process, so the initial phonecall = positive, sending your CV = great, the interview = successful, getting a job offer at the end = wonderful.

You see yourself navigating every step of the way with ease, by repeating this plenty of times you’ll become less anxious, less fearful and more optimistic and expectant of a positive outcome.

6) Imagine All The Negative Consequences If You Don’t Start Your Job Search

In a nutshell: you should picture all the awful things that will happen if you don’t get a graduate job – to motivate you.
This is a great approach for those of us who lean more towards the stick than the carrot.

Imagine All The Negative Consequences If You Don't Start Your Job Search
By picturing the worst possible scenario of what will happen if you don’t go ahead with your search to find a graduate job, you’ll motivate yourself to pull your finger out and take massive action.
For me, my main nightmare scenarios were “I won’t get a graduate job and I will be stuck in an unfulfilling temp job that I’m fed up with for the rest of my life” and “If I don’t start my search for a graduate job, I’ll stay unemployed, directionless and broke forever” And so on.

Think of your absolute worst case scenarios and use that to motivate you to do the necessary.

7) Problem Solve Your Way To Fearlessness

Problem Solve Your Way To FearlessnessTreat your fear like a game; a puzzle, a practical challenge that you need a solution for.

Think: what’s the worst case scenario and how can I prevent this from happening. If it does happen, how do I fix it?

The way it works is this: figure out what you are scared or anxious about – think of your worst case scenarios (of fear), write them down and come up with a solution.

For example, if the problem is you’re scared of rejection, the solution is to accept that rejection will happen, but try to minimise it by going after as many opportunities possible – which will decrease the instances of rejection.

They’ll say no” so what? Try hard enough and someone will say yes, or if you’re scared of saying the wrong things in an interview – the solution = study and research.

Prepare yourself as much as you can and practice: and so what if you say the wrong thing once or twice or even mess up the interview entirely: you can always get another interview and learn from your previous mistake.

This approach is particularly effective as it takes the power away from fear. Most of the hold that fear has on us comes from uncertainty, from ‘what if’s‘ and of not feeling in control.

However, by problem-solving you actually empower yourself and crush uncertainty by knowing exactly what to do if the proverbial hits the fan.

crush fear and you can do anything, especially get that job

Crush fear and you can do anything, including getting a graduate job

You Are Stronger Than Fear


Job hunting is not easy. It will have its challenges but you can do it. Remember: you survived 3 or 4 years of university, crazy exams and killer coursework – if you went through all that and made it out alive, you can definitely make it through a few weeks of job searching.


What about you readers? Do you have any tips or stories on how to get over fear and anxiety during your job hunt?

If you enjoyed this post, you might like:
The Single Most Important Question You Must Answer For A Successful Job Search
Uncovering The Hidden Job Market – Is This The Fastest Way To Get A Graduate Job?
5 Clever Ways To Avoid A Graduate Job You’ll Hate




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