Tips For Staying Confident During the Job Search

How do you maintain your confidence when you feel like the job search is breaking it down? This week’s Ask Victoria question is from a reader who has been feeling the strain of applying constantly for jobs, and who is seeking some tips for boosting her confidence as she continues her search.

Hi Victoria,

I just read your column on Idealist Careers and I was wondering if you have any tips or advice on how to boost my confidence during my job search. I feel like the process so far has been a grind and also rather soul-sucking as I try to sell myself to as many organizations as possible so that I can get a job soon.



Hi Melissa!

You hit the nail on the head- while keeping your confidence up throughout your job search can be challenging, it is also essential to your success! If you’re not feeling good about yourself, it’s likely that you will have more difficulty in presenting yourself as a strong candidate to an employer during your interview.

So what can you do?

One thing I would recommend is to schedule your calendar so that you reserve blocks of time for job seeking, some time for reflection and relaxation, and to also make sure you have time for fun and socialization. Do the things that feel good to you. Keep up with your hobbies and fitness regimen, incorporate the foods that work best for your diet, and surround yourself with the people who contribute to you feeling like your best self. By paying heed to these other important areas of life, you just may find a shift in your ability to stay confident in your job search.

I have a few other suggestions you may want to try:

Imagine a time when you felt really confident

An exercise that I find helpful in building up my confidence is to think about a time during which I felt extremely self-assured. What were the conditions surrounding that situation that made it so?

Let’s say I was preparing to present a workshop to 75 attendees. The last time I presented a session to 25 attendees, I was able to capture their attention, receive insightful questions, and get great feedback from the audience.

To replicate this for my workshop with more attendees, I would think about my previous experience. Perhaps I felt really comfortable with the subject material by practicing my talking points. I wore my “lucky outfit”, read an inspirational article earlier that day, and tested my audio/visual equipment to make sure everything was in proper working order.

By recalling the positive experience I had during my earlier presentation, I can use the same practical steps I did before: make sure I have valid talking points, practice my material, and read a series of uplifting quotes. Taking it a step further, I could even envision that the audience that was so attentive during my presentation is actually cheering me on this time around.  

Stop selling yourself to as many organizations as possible

I’ve said this recently, but I’ll say it again- focus on quality rather than quantity. Instead of applying to as many organizations as possible, selectively approach the ones with missions that resonate most with you, that allow you to do work that inspires and motivates you. While job searching may feel like a desperate proposition, it is better to keep your focus targeted and specialized rather than cast a wide net.

Make sure that each job application you send is highly customized to the organization and clearly responds to the question “why should I hire you?” Demonstrate a solid match between your skills and the organization’s needs.

Surround yourself with positive energy

Yes, this sounds hokey and a little “woo-woo“, but give it a try and see how it works for you. If you’re having trouble maintaining your confidence, be sure to spend time with people who naturally have a positive view of themselves. Observe their behavior and model yours after what you see working for them. This isn’t about being something that you are not, but rather employing strategies that will make it easier for you to tap into your own self-confidence.

To your success,


What are your tips for maintaining your confidence during a job search? Share with Melissa and the rest of the Idealist Careers community by posting a comment below!

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I became acquainted with Idealist in late 2000 while working in the career development office at a private liberal arts college in NYC. I used it almost daily to help students and alumni find meaningful careers. After a 12-year stint in higher education, I worked as a career coach for professionals in various industries (and still used Idealist). During one of those many searches, a listing really caught my eye- the one for the newly-created position, Careers Program Coordinator. So... I jumped at the opportunity. Since then, I took on the role of Manager of Career Content for Idealist Careers, creating career content for job seekers, leaders, and other nonprofit professionals. Understanding the roles that a positive outlook and holistic self-care play in career success, I've shared with our readers time-honored methods for improving confidence and productivity. Now, as Manager of College and Professional Development, my focus is on lifting the advice from Idealist Careers "off the page". Drawing from my experience in career development, I propel job seekers and career changers towards taking control of their searches with confidence and removing fear, uncertainty, and other blocks to success via in-person workshops and seminars, webinars, and conference programming. My great loves are cooking (preferably without a recipe, otherwise I doctor it up), dancing, live cultural performances, identifying the tasting notes in a good cup of coffee, exploring neighborhoods for hidden gems, and anything else that sparks the senses and allows me to experience all the beauty, dynamism, and intrigue that vivaciously living in a remarkable world offers.
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    • Parker Brown-Nesbit
    • November 9, 2015

    Excellent article, VIctoria! I’ve been experiencing the same thing as Melissa. I’d say that first & foremost, you’ve got to love yourself & be gentle to yourself (it’s way too easy to start thinking that you’re the one at fault, that you’ve got nothing to offer, etc.). I do this by meditating. It really works!

    1. Thank you for sharing, Parker. I’m glad to hear that this resonated with you and that you found something that works for you!

    • Anahi
    • November 10, 2015

    I enjoyed the reading, thanks for writing Victoria. I also relate to Melissa and what I have been trying lately is positive affirmations and meditation as well, specially loving-kindness meditation which builds up my feeling of safety and compassion. All the best to Melissa!

    • Glen Rada
    • November 10, 2015

    I too would like to thank you for the advise. Years ago my wife was out of work and told me her confidence was taking I hit. I did my best to console her, but did not truly understand. Now that I am searching for a job I truly get it.

    • Jacqueline Nichol
    • November 10, 2015

    I fully agree with this advice, Also I am knee-deep in this process and find it helpful to involve myself in soul-nurturing activities which reinforce my confidence, e.g. (1) volunteer work where I often receive kudos for serving others…or give myself those kudos (2) surrounding myself with healthy, supportive people and groups (3) take time for soul-spirit healing activities (meditation, classes/workshops)

    1. Great advice, Jacqueline! Thank you for sharing your tips. Glad to hear these work for you and I hope our readers will take your suggestions.

    • Cris
    • November 19, 2015

    These are great tips, Victoria 🙂 During my job-hunting experiences, I found that breathing in deeply for three times before I enter the room works well to calm my nerves. No matter how anxious I get, I flash a sincere smile at everyone: the receptionist, my fellow applicants, and of course, the interviewer. This somehow helps manage my stress levels.

    1. Many thanks for sharing, Cris! Glad you found the tips helpful. I love the idea of flashing a smile to everyone- seems to be a great way to get into a positive frame of mind!

  1. Great Advice, Each New Year make resolutions to revamp many things, Maybe to create more balance in our lives or to have a more fulfilling career. It also develop a plan to advance your career because it moves us out of our sacred comfort zones.

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