Emotions and the Job Search
If you can keep your emotions in check, you will find that you will be so much better off as you go through the job search.
This is the 6th post in the Negotiator Job Search series.
Note: This post was originally published in July of 2015 and was updated in March of 2020.
In Jim Camp’s book, Start with NO…The Negotiating Tools that the Pros Don’t Want You to Know, he writes:
In my system, “blank slate” is a verb. As negotiators, we actively blank slate in order to create a blank slate in our own minds, which then sits ready and waiting to receive any new information, new attitudes, new emotions, or new anything that our adversary wittingly or unwittingly beams our way. It is through blank slating that we learn what’s really going on in this negotiation— what’s really holding things up, what the adversary really needs.
Maintaining a blank slate or keeping your emotions in check is key in the job search.
Managing Positive Emotions
During an interview, a client of mine was told, “We needed you in this job yesterday!”
It would have been easy for her to think she basically had this job! She could have let down her guard and not listened with the same level of attention. She could have stopped asking probing questions. Instead, she said thank you and moved on to the next question.
Similarly, we have all walked out of an interview feeling amazing because we felt we did a great job. There is no question in our minds that we nailed it and the next contact will be the hiring manager with a job offer. Then there is silence and finally, that deadly email that says the company decided to pursue other candidates.
You have to remember to not get caught up in your positive euphoria. You need to stay focused and not let your positive emotions get you to lose sight of the goal. Remember your Mission and Purpose of the job search.
If we can control our emotions and keep from getting too high, we can also prevent our emotions from getting us too down when we face rejection.
Managing Negative Emotions
Many of you have encountered a situation wherein the recruiter calls you and starts to discuss money very early on. They throw out a lowball number, and you think:
Oh crap! I can’t work for that amount of money. What the heck should I do now?
It would be easy to lose your excitement for the position.
In late 2007, I was called by a recruiter from a sexy startup. They had a newly created training position and wanted to know if I was interested. We got into a discussion of compensation, and I asked her what she had budgeted for the position. She gave me a very low number.
At this point, I could have easily said I was not interested. Instead, I responded that they will not get anyone with any real experience at that price. They really needed someone with a fair amount of experience for this position. She asked me about my current salary. My current salary was not relevant because I was working for a non-profit.
I gave her an approximate number of what I made when I left the high tech sector four years earlier (which was double what she had budgeted!).
She asked me if I was still interested.
I told her we should keep talking.
I could have easily become negative, and it would have come out in our conversation. Instead, I maintained a blank slate. They eventually made me an offer that was close to my previous compensation.
Maintaining a Blank Slate and Taking Action
My wife and I are now living in Ajijic, Mexico and I am celebrating my 2nd anniversary as a digital nomad.
One Saturday morning we planned to drive into Guadalajara to a shop at Andares Mall so my wife could buy some new shoes. At the very beginning of our trip, I made an illegal left turn at a very confusing intersection. As a result, I was pulled over by a police officer who was famous for extracting bribes. The conversation stayed very friendly as he asked me for all of my paperwork. That is when things changed.
I did not have all of my paperwork for the US plated vehicle I was driving. He told me he was going to impound the vehicle and would I please follow him to the police station. I stayed very calm and said “NO” very politely. I then called my lawyer, an American citizen practicing law in Mexico. He spoke with the police officer and when the officer returned my phone, my lawyer instructed me in what to do. To spare you the details, 10 minutes later I was driving home to simply retrieve the rest of my paperwork and then headed on to Guadalajara.
Taking Action Assisted in Maintaining a Blank Slate
I maintained a blank slate the whole time. I was able to do that because I took action and did not sit with my emotions. My action was to immediately seek help from a trusted advisor. I screwed up in multiple ways that day but I was able to keep my emotions in check, seek help, exit the situation and more importantly learn some valuable lessons.
Have you been able to maintain a blank slate and control your emotions?
Can you tell us about your experiences?Marc Miller