The Dangers of Overconfidence

When you’re looking for a job you never know how long it’s going to take. It’s not like golf when you can tell whether the hole you’re playing is a par 3 or a par 5. At any given point in the game, a golfer can see exactly how far the flag is and what terrain lies in between, and he can make adjustments to his swing, the club he uses, and how he follows through. Even then, however, the ball doesn’t always land exactly where he wants it to.



A job seeker scoping out the current employment terrain, where the average duration of unemployment is now at 32 weeks vs. 21 weeks a year ago, should be prepared for a long haul. Yet many job seekers I know are overly optimistic early in the process that they’ll beat the average. I was floored, for example, when a friend of mine said he was getting help from just a couple of close contacts instead of going all out on his job search campaign.


Studies show that when forecasting their own futures, people often tend to overestimate how likely it is that a positive event will occur, and to underestimate how likely it is that a negative event will occur. I suppose that expIains my friend’s optimism.


Optimism is a good thing, but don’t let it affect your efforts and keep you from pulling out all the stops during your search. You wouldn’t want to miss out on that perfect job opportunity simply because one of your contacts didn’t know that you were in the market and ended up recommending somebody else.


Because you really don’t know how long your search could take, you should be prepared to take more swings than you feel you need to. Don’t limit yourself to just a few strategies, relying only on job boards, or job fairs, or a small number of face-to-face meetings, for example.


Don’t stop looking even when you have interviews lined up, because maybe you won’t get past the first round, or you won’t get an acceptable offer, or there won’t be a good cultural fit.


A lot can happen on the way to landing your next position. Being mentally prepared to play long will generate more options for you and give you something to celebrate if you do beat the average.

job, Jobsearch