Control What You Can and Let Go of the Rest

Perhaps the most frustrating parts of any job search are the things you have no control over.

You can't control which companies are hiring and for what positions. You can't control who else is applying for a particular job. You can't control that a particular company has decided a job requires a certain degree or ten years of experience you don't have. You can't control a hiring manager's or search committee's final decision, or how long it takes them to make it.

You also can't control unexpected situations, like that your application somehow gets accidentally lost or a department's budget gets cut so they can't hire someone after all.

Some of these things you can influence in one way or another, by building strong relationships with people, working extremely hard on your applications, labeling your files well, and preparing extensively for interviews.

But there will always be aspects of the job search you can't do anything about.

So my thought for this week is control as much as you can, and let go of the rest.

You can't control how many other people apply for a job, or what their qualifications are. So it's not worth worrying about those things. But you can control how you present your own qualifications in your application, and how much you practice explaining those qualifications before an interview.

Eventually you want to get a job, I know. And eventually you will, if you're willing to work hard enough. But for any one particular job, the most you can aim for is to do your very best at all the things you have control over.

During my last job search, I got a phone call that the organization had decided to pursue a candidate with different experience, but that I'd interviewed very well and the hiring manager would recommend me to any other job I applied for at the organization.

Did it suck not getting the job I wanted? Yes. But I was also happy knowing that there was nothing I could have done differently — I submitted a stellar application and had a polished interview, and those were the areas I could do something about, which gave me hope that I could land another job. That this hiring manager ultimately went with someone else was not something I had any control over.

Make it your goal to do your very best with the aspects of your job search you can do something about. There are plenty of your own responsibilities to worry about — don't waste time worrying about other people's areas of responsibility as well.