8 Scariest Parts of Looking for a New Job

By Sam Mani

Looking for a new job is all about change, and change is scary. But with some confidence and preparation, it’s a fear that you can absolutely overcome.

Fall is in the air and Halloween is right around the corner. Spooky season is upon us, and while ghosts, monsters, and the classic horror movies will keep us shaking in our boots for the rest of the month, one scary thing might top them all: the job search. *Cue lighting striking*

Okay, looking for a job isn’t Shining-level terrifying — although, boy, did that guy take work seriously — but it can certainly be daunting. Here’s the scariest parts of finding a new job and how to overcome them!

Brushing Up the Resume

For many folks, not only is updating the resume a drag, but it can be extremely stressful. After all, how can you possibly summarize all the work you did and the impact you had in three or four bullet points? How can you decide which jobs, of all the ones you’ve worked, to highlight? How do you even create a resume that’s inviting to look at? Does anyone care where you went to college?

One thing to remember about resumes is while they are crucial, they’re not that deep. Resumes aren’t supposed to tell the whole story — they’re supposed to tell the story you really want to tell. That means you may want to tweak your resume to include the most relevant info if you’re applying to different kinds of jobs.

Also don’t be ~afraid to brag on your resume. Did you earn any recognitions at your job? Were you a top earner? Let the people know!

Asking for Recommendations

Reaching out for help in general can be scary and awkward, but asking for a job recommendation is an important and normal part of the process. The hardest thing can come down to timing. Ideally, you want to give the person you are asking for the recommendation from ample time to consider, especially if they’re writing one rather than talking to the hiring manager on the phone. Sending them a summary of your accomplishments is also crucial — make it easy for them! But no matter what, get their permission first before including their contact information on a job application.

The Cover Letter

Cover letters are often thought of as an exercise in futility, but not only do recruiters and hiring managers actually read them, but they really are your first impression. So be sure to know who you’re addressing your letter to (no To Whom It May Concerns, please!), showcase your achievements confidently, and don’t be afraid to be a bit more conversational (don’t write like you’re in a group chat, but take the opportunity to ease the formalities and let your personality show a bit).

Applying and Reaching Out

When you’ve finally come across a job that you think is a good fit, the scariest part is often reaching out. This can take a number of norms: uploading your application to a job posting site, contacting a recruiter, or reaching out directly to the company. Applying for jobs is about developing relationships — after all, these could be people you’ll be working with one day. It helps if you already have a bit of a relationship with who you’re reaching out to; setting up an informational interview or tapping your own network of mutuals to get connected can help you establish a rapport. Be brave, put your best foot forward, and reach out with confidence.

The Interview

So you’ve booked yourself an interview! Congrats! The interview may seem like the scariest part of this process, particularly because the stakes seem higher than before, but like so many other things in life, the less you stress, the easier it is. Interviews are about getting to know each other as people, not as resumes or cover letters, so the most important part is being comfortable in your own skin. Having said that, you absolutely should practice your interview responses. Do your research! Know what you’re talking about! The better prepared you are, the easier it is to let your real self shine through.

The Wait

The most nerve-wracking part of searching for a new job has to be the few days after the interview, when the excitement of knocking that question out of the park has died down and you’re simply waiting for their response. If you’ve already sent a gracious follow-up email to the person you interviewed with, unfortunately, all there is to do is wait and try not to stress too hard. Depending on the job and the company, waiting to hear back can take some time. During the interview, don’t be afraid to ask when you can expect to hear back.

The Negotiation

Getting an offer is an exhilarating feeling — but the battle’s not quite over yet. Ensuring the salary offered suits your qualifications and experience (not to mention your living costs and needs) is crucial at this point. After all, negotiating a higher starting salary is typically more effective than fighting for pay raises as you go. Do your research and understand what the going rate is for someone of your experience. Value yourself, and if their offer isn’t enough, in asking for more, be prepared to point to both industry standards and your own standards. You’ve got this.

Dealing with Rejection

Of course, the fundamental reason the job search process is scary is that you might not land an offer. It’s one thing to want something, and it’s another to really go for it. And yet, you just have to trust that you can handle the outcome, whatever it may be.

Whether you’re working a job you’re not excited about or getting back into the workforce after a while, or even looking to drastically change career paths, realizing it’s time to look for a job can be scary. Maybe you’ve realized that you’re not being valued or paid enough currently. Maybe you’ve got some unexpected bills to pay and need to take on some extra work. Maybe your current job is downsizing and you just want to be prepared. Or maybe it’s just time to move on.

Looking for a new job is all about change, and change is scary. But with some confidence and preparation, it’s a fear that you can absolutely overcome.

About the author

Sam Mani writes about work, creativity, wellness, and equity — when she’s not cooking, binging television, or annoying her cat.