Scared of changing jobs? Here's how to tackle your fears

Scared of changing jobs? Here's how to tackle your fears
SEEK content teamupdated on 07 October, 2022

The Great Job Boom is providing exciting opportunities for people across all kinds of fields and industries. The problem is: two years of COVID may have shattered your confidence to discover what’s out there and go for it.

Two in five of us think looking for a job has become more overwhelming since the pandemic began, research for SEEK shows. At the same time, 45% of people are worried their skills and resumé won’t stack up against others.

Leah Lambart, Career and Interview Coach at Relaunch Me, says she's seeing many people uneasy about changing jobs, even though they want to.

"Many people are working from home and are feeling isolated and disconnected. As a result, they've lost confidence around what their skills are, even really senior candidates."

So why might you be feeling less confident to explore new opportunities – and what can you do about it?

Fearing change is common

While some of us thrive on change, fearing it is a normal human condition and even has a name: 'metathesiophobia'. Our brains are programmed to find peace in the familiar. When we don’t know what will happen, we create scenarios in our minds of what could happen, which in turn creates worry.

So when it comes to searching for a new job, you may have a fear of losing flexibility, or of taking a step backwards. There could be fear or worry about getting to know new people and new systems, of letting your existing employer down, or even letting your family down when living costs are rising.

Or you may fear your own failure.

"People also worry about putting themselves out there and actually going through the application process and interviews," Lambart says.

"A lot of people haven't done that for a long time."

It’s completely normal to feel some fear or worry about making a change like taking on a new job. But if you think that fear or worry could be holding you back from great opportunities, there are things you can do to work through it.

How to break through your fear of changing jobs

1. Focus on your goals

The key to overcoming your fears is to focus on what's driving your desire to change jobs in the first place, Lambart says.

She suggests writing a list of the reasons why you're looking to make a change and what you're hoping to get out of your next role.

"If you're looking for career progression and in your current company there isn't anywhere to move, that tells you that in order to achieve that goal, you have to move."

If you're looking to gain skills in a new area, perhaps consider an internal move, she adds.

"Many companies are experiencing skills shortages, so now may be a good time to negotiate a move or even a short-term secondment to a new team or project."

2. Identify your skills and strengths

It's also important to be able to clearly talk through what your skills and strengths are, Lambart says.

"Sometimes it's finding the words to explain what you do and what you're good at that holds people back.

"They know they can do the job, but they're not very good at selling themselves."

3. Don't make false assumptions

Don't assume the new situation may be worse when in fact it may be better, Lambart says.

"People worry about not being able to work from home. But there are lots of companies offering greater flexibility after COVID-19, even to new employees."

4. Reach out for support

To combat your fear of the job-hunting process, Lambart suggests seeking out a career coach, or if that’s not an option, a friend or professional contact. They could help you make sure your resumé and online profiles are at their best and your interview skills are up to date.

It may also be worth speaking to people who've been through the process recently about what worked for them, especially if they're in your industry and may have useful contacts.

"Use your network as much as possible to help you feel more confident," she says.

5. Don't aim for perfection

Lambart says it's vital to remember that companies aren't seeking perfection and you shouldn't either. You don't always need every skill listed in the job ad.

"In some industries of high demand there are opportunities to move into roles where perhaps you don't tick all the boxes."

Or, you might not have the exact experience, but you could find you have plenty of transferable skills to offer.

6. Do your research

People often worry that a new company they’re considering could turn out to be terrible to work for. But you can often do some digging to find out about what the culture is like.

"Prepare well for the interviews and think about what questions you need to ask to help you make an informed decision. You can also do some research outside of the recruitment process. Think about people you may know who have worked in the organisation and ask them what the culture is like ."

Having fears around a big change like a new job is common. But taking these steps to challenge your fears can help give you confidence to see what opportunities may be waiting.

It can take time though, Lambart says, and you may have to go through some rejection first.

"It just means that perhaps it wasn't the right fit and there will be something better that comes along."

And remember that magic often happens outside the comfort zone, she adds.

"It can be scary, but it might be a really positive change."

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 1000 Australians. Published October 2022.

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