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Is your ego screwing up your job search?

Your ego is an awesome thing. Truly, it can help you. It can guide you. It can give you the boldness you need to chase after something amazing.

Your ego, however, can also bite you square in the rear end in a career transition if you aren't able to stay grounded in reality.

Say, for instance, you had this Uh-MAZING job seven years ago.

Huge (possibly even inflated) title, lots of perks, big responsibilities, people who were scared to even look you square in the eye, expense account, the works.

And then, due to a corporate downsizing, a major screw-up you made, a family transition, or some other unexpected catalyst ... you lost that job. 

Now, assuming that happened, how did you respond to it?

Did you swear a bunch, down four martinis, cry for a week or two, and then construct a plan that involved learning from what just went down and moving the hell on?

Or did you just get mad. Or delusional. Or super depressed. Or some other emotion that kept you wallowing in the past?

If you did the latter, I probably don't need to tell you this (but I'm going to):

That method usually doesn't work.

It usually doesn't work because, when you get hung up on what used to be or what should have been, it can prevent you from crafting a plan for what will be.

Sometimes, your ego can prevent you from landing an incredibly rewarding, fulfilling and/or bill-paying job, because you're spending most (or all) of your time caught up on finding a job with the exact same (or greater) title, salary, perks or the expense account you once enjoyed.

It can make you bitter toward every last recruiter who ignores you and ready to punch every competitor who takes YOUR job right in the face.

It can close you off to opportunities that may be fantastic ... if you'd just stop and consider them.

This is when your ego is not a good thing.

This is when your ego is not going to come in handy.

This is when you need to stop dwelling on the past, and start strategizing for the future.

What true value you can offer to your next employer? This isn't fluff talk -- When you consider that organization you've got your eye on, and a specific job opening, what can you deliver that will be of great, immediate value? This is what you need to make clear to the reviewer. You may also want to consider other positions within that same company, even if they aren't the exact level you'd planned on.

Is the company great? Get into it then. Get in and prove how great you are to this new group of people.

Also, do you have holes in your skill set? What technologies have you fallen behind on? What can you shore up so that you can run neck and neck with your compeition (and then beat the suckers at the finish line)?

What impression are you giving as you market yourself - online, on paper and in person? Are you coming across as arrogant, entitled, scared or angry? Or are you presenting yourself as passionate, present and engaged?

No matter what huge-o job or title you once had, if you fail to clarify your true value, if you let your skills atrophy, or if you present yourself in an egotistical manner, you will lose.

And winning is just way, way more fun.

Be confident, of course. Love yourself, definitely. Just don't let your ego or your pride get in the way of a potentially great next chapter in your professional life. 

Photo by: The Morty. Look at that grumpo ego face. I'd totally not hire her.

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Reader Comments (3)

Jenny -

As someone who is a former recruiter, and who now teaches small business owners how to get clients, I will say one thing--personality really is everything. I don't care about your skill set if I don't think you're going to be a good fit for a team. And that can be a hard bullet to bite, when you've relied solely on your skill set and nothing more to get you where you want to go. But at the end of the day, we're all humans. And humans want to work with other humans they like---not bitter, resentful, grumpy ones. So no matter what personal issues arise, always good to take a step back, down one of those martinis you mentioned, and go in like the champ that you are. Not the chump that you're looking like.


October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley Ambirge

Be a champ, not a chump.

Well said, Ash! You should write copy for a living. You really should. :) Hi, and thanks for weighing in on this!

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenny Foss

Such a great point you make. Whenever I think of people who live in the past, I think of Uncle Rico from the movie "Napoleon Dynamite". You may have done it all back in the day, but sometimes big kids have to admit those days have passed, and it is now time to move forward (probably drop all of the old techniques that haven't gotten you anywhere) and cheerfully go forth and conquer!

DON'T be an Uncle Rico!

Great post, thanks Jenny!

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTitus

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