Conquering Your Fears: The 4 biggest fears during the job search and how to conquer them

Written by Noemi Polli Bárd

Indeed, the job search can be quite an intimidating process, but it is better to face the situation - starting with naming your fears. Knowing what you are afraid of will make every step of your job hunting easier, from browsing job postings to the final interview.

While some find it easier to find a job, others find it harder. Being unemployed in a foreign country can feel like an extra obstacle because it usually means that you lack a local network and you’re unfamiliar with the system you want to be a part of. You have to spend a lot of time understanding the job market and specialties of your field while having this  constant thought: nobody needs you. 

With the help of Empower Amsterdam’s coaches, we’ve compiled the main fears of international job seekers and what to do to overcome them.

Fear#1: Rejection

No one likes to be rejected. Especially if it happens many times. What can help maintain your self-confidence is remembering that most of the time rejection is not about you

It may not be about your knowledge or qualities, either. It could be simply about the company and their needs. Maybe you are overqualified or they need someone who has more experience in a specific area. You may not even know the real reason for the rejection because you just got a “no” response without any explanation. 

If you get a rejection, here are some things you can do:

  • Reflect: Spend some time reflecting on what you learned from the experience, what you can change for next time, and what is clearer for you now about the type of job you want.
  • Keep going! When you’re ready, open your computer and start applying for more job posts. Having more alternatives (like other prospective jobs) also helps you deal with job rejection by giving you some hope. In this case, you will always have other ways to go on, other jobs to dream about.
  • Create a weekly goal: Job searching isn’t just about applying for jobs. Your weekly job search goal can also include researching positions or making new LinkedIn connections to grow your network. Make a SMART goal, so you can track your progress and continue your journey towards finding the career of your dreams!

Fear #2: You are not qualified enough 

You scan the list of requirements for an open job, see they want 15+ years of experience, and feel frustrated: ‘How is it possible to have so much experience or expertise?’ 

It’s important to remember: other applicants are not a 100% match either. And hiring managers aren’t looking for a 100% fit. The perfect applicant does not exist so stop comparing yourself to an ideal candidate.

Maybe you’ve already read this statistic: men apply for a job when they meet 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them

On top of that, research shows that women can sometimes present as more uncertain during job interviews. Here’s what typically happens in interviews when a recruiter asks the applicant about their competency in 3 skills and the applicant has only 2 of them: 

  • Women will admit that they have only 2 of the 3 skills. 
  • Men will more likely say: ‘Well, I can do all of them.’, and after that go home and learn the 3rd one.

So what is the conclusion?  If you are trying to meet 100% of the required skills, lower your expectations, no matter your gender. You can still grab the attention during an interview and convince the interviewer even if you don’t have every skill. If you have the core knowledge and are passionate about the job, it is worth giving it a try. 

The interview is the perfect opportunity to emphasize that you are keen to learn new things. But do so without underestimating the knowledge you already have. Believe in yourself!

Fear #3: Fear of admitting you’re unemployed or have gaps in your employment

To admit that you are unemployed - yes, that's tough! You can feel like you fell out of society, that you are excluded from the club of the ‘successful and always smiling people’. You are afraid others will look down on you and find you worthless.

Don’t be hard on yourself! The fact is that everyone has been unemployed at a certain period of their life (or multiple periods!).

If you are still uncertain how to explain gaps in your CV in a job interview, then read our previous blog post on this topic here.

Fear #4: Fear of salary talks

In the end, you have to sell yourself and reach the salary you feel comfortable with. Negotiation on compensation can feel much more difficult in a foreign country. Maybe you don’t know the average salary of your profession. You may not have friends who can give you pointers on how much you should ask for. Also, there may be slight differences between cultures in the way they talk about money. 

So, first of all, be prepared. Do your homework and research the salaries for your profession, age, and experience. There are helpful, informational sites to do that, for example, or Recruiters can also help you. They may not share an exact salary but they may say a range which is also useful.

So be prepared and confident when they ask about your salary expectations. Always aim for the top of your salary target first so you will have room to negotiate.

Finding a job as a foreigner in an unfamiliar market is not easy. If you feel you need personalized advice, contact one of Empower Amsterdam’s coaches. Our volunteer coaches help you get through your unemployment with free 1:1 coaching sessions. You can find out how it works here.