how do I stop myself from getting overly attached in the application process?

A reader writes:

I was in law school, but between middling grades and some very personal issues, have since decided to pivot to paralegal work. I’ve noticed that with the job applications I’ve sent out that have actually gone somewhere (no offers yet), the cycle has been as follows:

– I get a request for an interview.
– I research the company and start to think about what I would look like as an employee there.
– The interview happens, and I feel pretty good about it. I send a follow-up email as soon as possible afterwards, thanking them for their time.
– Days go by without contact from the company. I flip between excitement about a potential hire and dread that I haven’t been hired.
– If it gets long enough and there’s still radio silence, I send another follow-up email reiterating my interest and asking when I should expect to hear back. The hope-dread flips get worse. (I’ve seen you tell other letter writers to pretend that they didn’t get the job and put it out of mind; I’ve tried this and it only feeds my anxiety.)
– So far: either ghosting or rejection.

I’ve spoken with my therapist and psychiatrist about this, but I do want some advice from the other side, as it were: how do I divorce my feelings enough from the process that I don’t feel affected by negative outcomes or delays in the process, but not enough to where I come across as disinterested to a hiring manager?

You’re getting excited and invested too quickly.

A single interview is too early to be confident that you should be excited about the job/the manager/the team/the company.

Maybe it’s a great job/manager/team/company. Or maybe the boss tapes people’s mouths shut, the team is toxic, they don’t allow humor, and the CEO pours urine down the kitchen sink. More realistically, maybe the boss is a micromanager or AWOL when you need them, the work is different than what you’re picturing, or the culture isn’t a great fit for you.

Your job in a hiring process — in addition to helping your interviewers see what you’d bring to the job — is to assess them right back and try to figure out what it would really be like to work there. If you are too invested from the beginning, it makes it really hard to do that accurately. You’ve got to have your eyes wide open for a whole range of problems … and not just for problems, but also for things that would make it a less-than-ideal situation for you, even if it would be great for someone else.

It’s sort of like with dating: you don’t want to get so excited by your idea of someone after just one date that you start picturing a future with them. If you do that, you can miss all kinds of ways you’re not right for each other … although those ways will definitely come out later, after you’re already much more entangled and it’s harder/more painful to extract yourself. (Obviously it’s not exactly like dating, because with jobs you have to make a decision much faster — but it’s similar.)

In your case, because you’re getting so invested so quickly, I recommend actively looking for downsides — even imagining some in your head before you know for sure, because you need something to temper what sounds like unwarranted enthusiasm at early stages.

In fact, it might be interesting to recall past jobs you’ve had that weren’t a great fit. If you were Very Excited about those early on, thinking about those experiences might help you recalibrate your responses at early stages now.

That said … it sounds like there may be anxiety at play here that’s less about the situation and more about plain old clinical-level anxiety. And if that’s the case, treating the anxiety may be the only thing that helps. But hopefully some of the above can shift your thinking a little too.

{ 110 comments… read them below }

  1. Audrey*

    this is such good advice! Something else I do is while I’m interviewing I actively look for red flags. This helps me to be less invested but still having my whole mind in the interviews.

    1. Corporate Fledgling*

      This is good advice. It ends up giving you confidence when you don’t think it’s a perfect job. In my recent job hunt, the jobs that I felt more desperate to get, I wasn’t asking the right questions or drilling down on my concerns. The job I eventually got, I ended up getting a much better offer ($25k more than a job that rejected me and I cried for a whole weekend over) because I was skeptical over a few things so it was easier for me to ask harder questions. Since it wasn’t a #dreamjob I felt more confident in my negotiation and interviews which ended up working out better.

      Reading AAM has also helped a lot in the reframing of *Dream Job*, and its okay to have a job that ticks enough boxes for you. But chasing the Dream Job can lead to situations like the OP, or me crying all weekend over a job I was too prematurely attached to. I found out later that the person hired was a friend and former coworker of the hiring manager, so it was pretty unlikely I would have been hired. I just mention that because we (as humans) can get a head of ourselves, and like Alison said, build things up that might not be right, or great, or even viable options. But we’ve all been there, OP!

      1. jlp*

        I need you to share this with my therapist! She quit her corporate job and is so much happier and thus I should do the same. But mostly I like my job (though I want less of it), my manager is amazing, I make enough money to live on (though I’m sure I’d make more elsewhere), and have benefits that work for me. It ticks enough boxes that I can do the things I love outside of work – provided I have strong enough boundaries ;)

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Therapists shouldn’t be trying to make you do the same as them. They’re projecting their own situation on you, whereas they probably were a whole lot unhappier than you are in their corporate job.
          I’m sure you can reframe this for your therapist yourself, using some version of “I am not you”.

  2. Ashley*

    I think it might also be helpful to ask questions during that initial interview like “what is the timeline looking like for hiring this role” and “what will next steps look like” to set clear expectations for yourself. It sounds like the anxiety is potentially increased because you keep waiting to hear back when it might not even be realistic to expect to hear back yet. Knowing they plan to get back to you in 5 business days can keep you from frantically checking for messages the day or two after, wondering why you haven’t heard back yet.

    1. Ashley*

      On that same note, asking questions during the interview not only shows you’re seriously considering if something is a good fit but also gives you the chance to acrually check for fit. If their hiring process is 3 months long, it’s good to know that upfront, not to mention any culture qs etc you might have for trying to politely identify red flags.

    2. Smithy*

      For better or worse, I’m not sure asking for a hiring timeline is likely to be a huge amount of help given that so many stated hiring timelines do not get reflected in reality. And for lots of places, a timeline going a week longer than expected may not make even a good employer feel the need to update candidates.

        1. Dave*

          Timelines are so unrealistic for all kinds of legitimate reasons on top of sometimes people/companies suck.
          I had a job where I had insider info so I knew to be patient but it literally two over two months and I knew I was getting the job. (One of the delays ended up being the HR person got COVID and was out for a few weeks so they were trying to work around them as best as they could.)
          That said I had another round of interviews with their competitor and they rushed the process to try and beat the other folks timeline. I took that info with some other things that gave me pause and rejected them, and then spent another month super anxious waiting and fingers crossed I would get the job I wanted. I finally just started applying other places and sure I had to cancel a few interviews, but I preferred that to just hoping job A would actually work out.

      1. Cookie monster*

        Yes, the timeline thing can backfire when it comes to quelling anxiety. They might have a general timeline with the best of intentions but so often, things get off track for any number of valid reasons and if you are expecting to hear back by the end of next week and two more weeks pass without any communication, the anxiety might even be worse than not having that timeline established. Really, the best advice that Alison usually gives in this situation is to just put it out of your mind and go on about your life (including applying to and interviewing for) other opportunities. If something positive happens, then it’s a pleasant suprise and if it goes the other way, it isn’t the end of the world. I also like the dating advice. Don’t start dress shopping or putting down a deposit on a wedding venue after the first date.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      This is useful, but bare in mind that people hiring are often way overly hopeful about the speed of these things. So, I would always mentally add a week or two to whatever estimate they give you.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, I’d say that the estimate is only useful if you rephrase it in your mind as a minimum.

        They say: “We’ll get back to you in two weeks.”
        You need to hear: “It will be at least two weeks before we get back to you, so it’s no use even checking in with us for three weeks.”

        My goal during those two weeks was to get a few more quality applications out there so that there were multiple in-process.

  3. Coverage Associate*

    Another thing is to compartmentalize the time spent on the job search, as much as possible. You will only research and apply for jobs at x times each week. After each interview, you will only spend z minutes to write your thank you and make notes.

    1. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Yes, this is my advice too. You almost have to treat job searching like a chore to depersonalize it. And until you’ve secured a job and cleared the background check with a company, don’t stop looking for other job opportunities.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I wonder if the stage “start to think about what I would look like as an employee there” is too far. Are you like, picturing working at that office and telling everyone you have the role? Could you do more compartmentalizing there?

  4. S*

    Funny that Alison brought up the analogy with dating, because I had the same problem in my dating life at one point, and logically knowing I shouldn’t get overly invested too early didn’t really help. The only thing that did help was getting out there more and getting more experience and success. (I was a late bloomer.) When you’ve only been on three fourth dates ever, I think realistically you’re going to get overly invested at that stage, no matter what the logical part of your brain says.

    To tie it back to job searches: I think sometimes you just have to power through this kind of feeling until you’ve had enough success that you feel confident you can do it again if needed.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yeah, if this is OP’s first professional job it definitely feels like everything is on the line; a good entry into the working world and a good start in your career (and those first paychecks) make a big difference. OP may find better balance and perspective on her next job search, and that is perfectly normal – just in case she, like me, is mostly worrying that she’s worrying too much …

    2. Beth*

      I think you have a point here about some of the attachment being situational. And it’s not just about being inexperienced–desperation also plays a big role. Someone who’s scared that they’re going to be alone forever is going to approach their first dates from a scarcity “Is this The One??” mindset that sets them up to get overly invested from way too early on. I know from experience that the same thing can happen to someone who’s feeling desperate for a job.

      OP, if there’s anything you can do to take pressure off your job hunt, do it. If your financials are tight right now, get a part-time or temp job to complement your search. When job hunting was my main project, one thing I struggled with was feeling like a failure because nothing was working out–setting myself up with some hobby projects and volunteering helped counter that.

      And yeah, hold off on envisioning yourself as an employee in this company/role until later stages. I get the impulse, but it’s a fantasy. At the first-interview stage, you don’t know enough about the company yet to know what it would be like to be an employee there. You want to research the company enough to ask some smart questions, but there’s a definite limit on how far that research can take you–it’s not worth getting too invested in yet.

      1. Bee*

        What’s rough about the imagining-yourself-there thing (for both jobs and dating!) is that it can be a really useful tool for identifying whether you actually want the thing or you’re just going along with something because there’s nothing wrong with it. That line between “do I want to date THIS person or do I just want to date A person and this person is here.” It’s absolutely a fantasy that has no bearing on reality, but it can help you identify your own feelings, you know? But it backfires on you every time!

        1. Beth*

          I think imagining-yourself-there can be really useful once you’re a little further along in the process. (And by process, I do mean both dating and job hunting!)

          There is a point where you and your potential partner/company have a sense of each other, you have a sense that you’re decently aligned and are both considering a commitment, and you have to decide whether you want to make that commitment or not. Once you actually know the potential partner/job well enough to have a sense of what their values, personalities, day-to-day routines, long term goals, etc are? That’s a great time to sit down and envision your future life if you stick with that partner/employer. That can be really helpful for answering the exact question you raised.

          But when you’re on a first date, or in a first interview? It’s way too early to ask that. You don’t need to know if you want to commit to that person/job yet–you just need to decide if you’re curious enough to want a second meeting.

      2. Goldenrod*

        “Someone who’s scared that they’re going to be alone forever is going to approach their first dates from a scarcity “Is this The One??” mindset”

        This is a great point. It’s important to try to move away from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset, in both dating and job searching. Easier said than done, but coming from a place of scarcity makes both things so much worse.

    3. Anne Elliot*

      For me, what helped — and I think this is equally applicable to dating — was to change the task from “get the thing” to “seek the thing.” So to reframe the employment goal not as “successfully get a job” but as “successfully apply for lots of jobs,” or to reframe the dating goal from “find The Forever One” to “go on lots of fun dates.” Then your rubric of success is not that you achieved the ultimate goal but rather that you achieved the goal of doing well in how you pursue the goal and how you prioritize pursuing the goal. Not: Am I doing well at getting a job? (No job! = failure) but Am I doing well at APPLYING for jobs? (Submitted X applications this week; got Y interviews; set up an informational meeting with a mentor; went to a networking event; got a certification, etc., etc. = success!)

      It may sound like smoke and mirrors, and maybe it is, but for me it was helpful to focus on getting better and better at applying for jobs, and refining how I could make myself a great, attractive candidate, as opposed to just the black/white choice of did I get the job or not (yes = winner, no = loser) and feeling super anxious/invested/sad if and when the answer turned out to be “no.” I framed it that my “job” was “looking for work,” and I consciously tried to measure success in terms of how I was doing in THAT job. It’s a type of reframing that may or may not be helpful, but I mention it because it was helpful to me.

      1. lipton brisk*

        Hey I’m not here to start a whole derail into dating talk, but can I say real quick that this is really helpful advice and I appreciate it? I’ve heard “reframe your goals” before but like a lot of goal-setting tips it seemed difficult to apply to dating. It’s nice to actually see a suggestion for another approach, thank you.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I also find, if the thing I need to do is something I don’t enjoy / find stressful, it helps to reward yourself based on the number of dates/applications/whatever that you achieve. “I got four applications in this week, I’m going to treat myself to my favorite takeout on Friday!” or “It can be anxiety-inducing, but if I meet three people for coffee this month, I’m going to book that vacation I’ve been looking for.”

      3. BlueCanoe*

        This is what I did too.
        I reframed my goal to “get lots of practice filling out applications and interviewing” rather than “get job offers”.

        Interestingly, I actually did better in interviews when I shifted my focus to interviewing well vs being focused on getting the job.

        1. Bird names*

          I’ve had that experience myself and believe that it is a matter of focus as well, as you stated.
          If your goal is getting practice, you focus more fully on the task at hand (writing applications, asking good questions in an interview). If your goal is mainly “get the job” your focus is not fully on the steps you need to take to actually get there and therefore can weaken your effort. So yes, staying mentally with the actual process helps in several ways.
          This is all easier said than done of course, but it gets easier over time.

      4. Goldenrod*

        “For me, what helped — and I think this is equally applicable to dating — was to change the task from “get the thing” to “seek the thing.””

        I love this!

        Another way of framing this is to shift from a fixation on outcome to a focus on process. Once you are fully immersed in the process, the outcome becomes less important.

        Eckhart Tolle would describe this as the difference between your outer purpose and your inner purpose. Your external goals are never as important as the value of your inner dimension.

      5. Sharon*

        This advice is extremely helpful, because it focuses your thought and energy on outcomes over which you have control. Once you’ve applied and interviewed no amount of worrying is going to change the outcome.

      6. Bird names*

        Thank you for bringing this up, Anne Elliot.
        I think someone stated something similar many years ago here and at first I was sceptical. I put it to the test and by now I’ve fully come around to the mindset you described (some addition above). The process still stresses me out, but I can divert that energy in more practical ways thanks to this approach.

      7. Squirrel*

        this is great advice! I plan to try this myself. I’m currently job searching myself and am down on myself and feeling desperate because I haven’t gotten a job yet. I just did a pretty big revision of my resume so am hoping that will help. now I will think of it as my job to get that updated resume out there! thanks.

    4. Brain the Brian*

      Funnily enough, I am on the tail end of a relationship that really only got started because neither of us had ever made it past three dates and got too invested too early. Unsurprisingly, it’s never worked. I’ve definitely seen the same thing happen with people who are looking for their first professional job.

    5. Peanut Hamper*

      Yep, totally agree. You develop a relationship with work, and it takes up a significant part of your time, so in some ways it is like a marriage (only much easier to get out of and no custody issues). It’s a very apt metaphor.

      And it explains why the members of Metallica went to a marriage counselor to figure out what are actually work things, IIRC.

    6. allathian*

      Oh yes, I can relate. I was unemployed, or at least underemployed for a while in my late twenties before I landed my first professional job after college, and I can relate to being overinvested in applying for jobs.

      For a few months, I couldn’t apply for a job until I managed to convince myself that I wasn’t going to hear back from a job I applied to. For a while my thinking was so skewed that my worst nightmare was the idea of accepting a job I was only mildly interested in just before being offered my “dream job” (I know they don’t exist). I was frankly more paralyzed by this FOMO (long before the term even existed) than bothered by the idea of being unemployed for an extended period of time. I realize that I was very privileged as I was in no danger of becoming unhoused or starving.

      I eventually got past that problem because I had to, when I was on unemployment (thankfully I’d worked enough during my time in high school and college to qualify, we have single-payer unemployment insurance and employers have no say in whether or not you qualify). I had to apply to a certain number of jobs every week. As I got used to this, my anxiety lifted and I’m certain that helped me both write better applications, get interviews, and eventually get my first professional job.

      The parallel to dating is also strong, because I absolutely cannot date casually. Just the idea of my date going out with someone else the next day makes me nope out completely. I’m exclusive from the first date and I expect the same from my date, so I’ve never really dated at all.

      I met my first serious boyfriend at a club, and my husband and I were introduced to each other by mutual friends a couple degrees removed (my best friend’s husband’s coworker was a friend of my husband). By the second date both of us knew that we wanted to be together in the long term. Those two are the only serious relationships I’ve ever had, although I had a few FWBs in college and in my late 20s.

  5. trust me I'm a PhD*

    LW, I know exactly what you’re talking about –– for me, the work of putting together a good application requires that I envision myself, happy and thriving, at that company, and once I’ve done that, I feel some emotional investment in the position.

    A few things that work:
    * Keep applying! The advice here about “pretend you didn’t get it” is as much about pragmatics –– that you need to keep sending out applications –– as emotions, and doing the work to envision yourself at other firms will also help.
    * Don’t send another follow up email. You get one follow-up/thank you email, and that’s it. This doesn’t help with the emotions, but it does help with perception/reputation (e.g. you’re not flagged as a person who doesn’t understanding hiring processes.)
    * See if you can invest in other projects, e.g. volunteering, etc., that keep you out in the community and around people who want to work with you in a professional sense. One of the reasons job applications create so much investment is that it’s about whether our professional skillset is valued, and knowing that one organization or group DOES value that, even if it’s not for pay, may help.

    1. Hi!*

      This hits the mark and addresses an important point in how some people approach interviews (and dating), and I agree with this advice!

      I want to go in with a positive attitude, and to do so, I need to envision the ways in which I could be successful in the role. Similar to dating, there are a lot of duds out there! But I can’t go in with that attitude because it is not productive for me. I can be both excited and alert for signs in which it is or isn’t a good fit. Also, I am not independently wealthy so I need to work!

      Community involvement such as volunteering is such good advice because of the connections that develop over time, and I feel good making a difference in my own small way. It’s also a helpful reminder that you are more than your employment status and career, and there is so much else out there in the world.

      Good luck!

  6. Smithy*

    Being mindful that the OP’s experience is pretty common in the job hunting space, but the levels of intensity are making the process unpleasant – I would recommend asking their therapist if there are any specific exercises from a CBT perspective that might help? Essentially tools in the moment beyond things like deep breathing to address the anxiety.

    Not that this would be a CBT practice, but I wonder if after each interview the OP took the time to reflect on the actual interview and figure out three cons and three pluses from the interview. This would be a moment to think of tangible positives as well as the red/yellow flags. The cons could be as basic as “longer commute than desired” or “lower salary range than other postings”. But it could also be useful to note things are worth following up on in a future interview.

    An example might be if work from home flexibility was seen as a plus – and in an interview they weren’t clear on their policy, that could be written down as “unclear work from home policy”. Then should another interview come around, those notes could be helpful on areas to ask more questions – and also when you’re day dreaming about possibilities, really anchor the positives around what you know vs what you’re hoping for.

  7. former paralegal*

    I’m curious about the kinds of employers OP is applying to. Nonprofits whose mission s/he believes in? Or big law firms? I was a litigation paralegal in a large firm, and it was rough – long hours, demanding attorneys, and rare praise. If they ask how you feel about overtime, that’s a sign.

    1. Alright Alright Alright*

      Former non-profit lawyer here…those jobs can be grueling and toxic, too. Especially if it’s non-profit, it’s crucial to be realistic and assess the job as a job, not as a calling. There will be good days and bad days at any job, even when you are doing something you really believe in.

    2. Bast*

      I started as a paralegal and worked as one until I finished law school. There were definitely firms that felt like one giant red flag when I walked in the door, but I ignored all the signs because a) I was desperate to get my foot in the door and b) I kind of wanted to ignore the bad signs and figured there are sour grapes everywhere, and just because something is a bad fit for one person doesn’t mean it will be a bad fit for me.

      While the b might certainly be true, I’ve learned NEVER to ignore my intuition again. If I walk into a place that feels like a sweatshop again and the room radiates misery, I’d walk right out. I went through quite a few jobs where I wanted to see the good, ignored the red flags during the interviews, and paid the price. Granted, it got me some good experience along the way and I learned a lot, but I very nearly became burnt out in this field altogether by jobs that treated people poorly, low wages, lying about OT, petty, catty drama and offices that lived off of it in exchange for pizza Fridays, etc. I didn’t know a professional, normal environment with boundaries could exist in law until my very current job… I just figured it was part of the industry and something I was going to have to live with. I knew when I walked into this job interview that if I was offered the job, I would take it. Everyone was just so NICE. And not a fake nice either, but a professional nice with such a calm environment.

      The one thing I have to say is where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Don’t refuse to see the smoke, and if a place generally seems to have a high turnover and almost no one seems to have a good experience, something is wrong. Run.

    3. RagingADHD*

      IME, if you want low-drama, go for corporate & tax or trusts & estates. There are seasonal crunch periods for getting the taxes / annual reports filed, but not too bad.

      1. Bast*

        Fair, but it can be a problem if you have trouble keeping your eyes open long enough… Tax law may be relatively less dramatic but I found it to be the equivalent of counting sheep.

  8. lost academic*

    One of the things that helps is also realizing that the work you’re doing, while useful, is way too early in the process to bother with – and that’s a hard thing to realize too. The advice is good that we get – research the company and management and team – but most of what we need to do is wasted effort until the offer and negotiation phase when you have more than enough time to do that work WITH all of the other necessary information. You can’t honestly get ahead of this process very much and if you know it’s going to cause all these negative reactions, you’re better off entirely divesting from any potential consideration until there’s actually something to consider. You’ll also end up revisiting all of that at an offer stage and then you’ll be having to work through opinions you may have formed before you had all the facts you needed.

    This advice isn’t meant to replace the work you’d do to decide if you SHOULD apply to an opening – everyone has their own threshold for that based on their personal needs. But once you’ve sent off that application/had a screen/interview/another interview, bury it.

  9. MollyGodiva*

    When I was applying to jobs I trained myself to forget about applications as soon as I submitted them, same for interviews. If they get back to you, good, if not then oh well.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I am able to do that too, but it sounds like the letter-writer struggles with the “forget about the application/interview” approach:

      (I’ve seen you tell other letter writers to pretend that they didn’t get the job and put it out of mind; I’ve tried this and it only feeds my anxiety.)

      To the letter-writer: here are some practical tips for the put-it-out-of-mind approach. Hopefully one/both of these will work for you:

      1) Have a goal for how many applications you want to send out per week/month. After an interview, go back to looking at job ads/filling out applications/updating your resume/writing cover letters. This will direct your energy into productive job search tasks, and away from ever-growing-anxiety-that-the-interview-company-hasn’t-responded.

      2) I don’t know how exactly your dread/anxiety manifest, but here are some self-soothing counters you can use:

      – “What if the company forgets to hire me! I should reach out!” => A company won’t forget to hire you. If they want to hire you, they will reach out. My rule of thumb is to send a follow-up/thank you after the interview, then if the company told me when I should expect to hear from them, I will send a second follow-up one week after the company gave me. I don’t expect to hear anything back from my follow-ups (if I do, it’s a pleasant surprise).

      – “They haven’t gotten back to me because I messed up so terribly they can tell I’ll be a bad paralegal/they think I’m a horrible person.” => There are all sorts of reasons good candidates (and good people!) don’t get hired for jobs. There was a candidate that had more experience in X, the company lost funding for the position, there’s a big case at the firm that’s sucking all resources away from hiring, etc.

    2. amoeba*

      My problem with that (not the LW’s though, as I read it, so sorry for that!) is that there’s so very, very few job openings in my field. Like, maaaaaybe one every three months, but with the market as it was last year, there were also, like, 9 month stretches without anything.
      As I’m really stuck and unhappy in my current position, forgetting about the application basically means going back to the state of “oh my god, there’s absolutely nothing out there, I’ll be stuck here forever” and waiting for a job posting to magically appear. Which in a lot of ways is actually worse than waiting to hear back from something concrete.

      So, not really any advice, but a lot of commiseration – what LW describes sounds extremely familiar. (And I don’t think I’m alone with that/just doing it wrong, my partner in the same field has been trying to move to my region for 1.5 years now, and lots of highly qualified friends have been unemployed for months. It sucks.)

  10. I should really pick a name*

    A few things to keep in mind:

    Responses can sometimes be measured in weeks, not days.

    Resist the urge to send that second follow-up unless it’s been quite a while (like maybe a month). Ideally, don’t send it, but it sounds like that might be hard for you.

    Pick a date (maybe six weeks out or something like that). If you hit that date, as far as you are concerned, you did not get the job. You have been rejected, you’re no longer waiting for a response. Let yourself experience the disappointment at that point.

  11. Goldenrod*

    OP, I can so relate to this! I really struggled with this for a long time. It never gets totally easy, but my advice is to always have more than one iron in the fire.

    I found that applying to multiple jobs kept me from getting too fixated on any one job. And it really is just practice, practice, practice. Think of getting a new job as a process (which it totally is) and not a scary situation where you only get one shot. If you can get interviews, you can get a job. So just keep interviewing.

    I was the number 2 pick – ultimately getting rejected – a few times. And while it did sting, it also made me realize that eventually I would be the first choice. The more options you have to consider, the less you end up fixating on any one.

    Sometimes it can be hard to find multiple postings you are interested in, but as much as you can, just apply, apply, apply. And don’t stop until you have that job offer in hand, just keep going…like a shark… ;p

    It truly does get easier with practice. Good luck!!

    1. RVA Cat*

      About realizing you would eventually be the first pick – each rejection means whoever they hired is no longer competing with you.

  12. Project Maniac-ger*

    Since you laid out the process, I am going to point out the step that seems to me to be the problem: “start to think about what I would look like as an employee there.”

    Some people, especially those with anxiety, can literally live things in their mind. like how we visualize the path to the bathroom when we’re giving someone directions – we don’t have to literally walk them to the bathroom. But it can go further where we can think about something so deeply that our brain has a hard time realizing the difference between just thinking through a situation and living a situation. It’s the same idea as manifesting, but in this case, I think it’s going too far and instead of not getting the job, a rejection feels like getting fired from a job you already have because you’ve put yourself there in your mind. I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t think about the job so much! Don’t waste your brainpower on a company that hasn’t given you anything yet.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, I used to read a blog by a funny journalism grad about her job hunt and it went something like “I imagine wearing clothing other than pyjamas for my first day. I have a dream commute, before rocking up to my own desk with a take out coffee from a local cafe; I do a spot of light work before I start to browse for the foreign holidays I can now afford. While in a meeting I remind myself I will never have to job hunt…ever again!” It’s really not like that, but job hunting is soul destroying.

  13. JennG*

    A few tweaks to your process might help. The biggest one, I think, is to see each first interview as Learning The Interview Process and Learning About This Company.

    – I get a request for an interview.

    – I research the company FOR THE INTERVIEW questions and start to think about what I should ask about the job in the interview. I consider which factors would make me want to continue the process and which factors would make me want to stop the process of pursuing this job.

    – The interview happens, I both answer questions and ask MY questions.

    – I send a follow-up email as soon as possible afterwards, thanking them for their time.

    – I go home and think about THEIR answers to the questions, the reality of what I’ve learned (commute time/physical space if the interview was in person) and I feel pretty good about it. But I rate those things and make notes of what to ask in the next interview.

    – I make a short, non-self-recriminatory list of things I would like to do better in future job interviews either for this position or in general. At this point, I’ve accomplished everything I need to accomplish at this stage – spoken with the hiring people/HR, asked my questions, made notes on what I need to ask or mention next time, and learned about interviews for the next opportunity. So –

    – I move on to other jobs so as not to waste my time

    1. Saturday*

      I want to be like you! You’re thinking sounds so ordered and healthy. I’m always an anxious mess when I interview.

  14. Consonance*

    As someone who’s done a fair amount of hiring, one thing that I find to be true with almost every search is that there are a lot of great candidates out there. I usually turn down many people for each position that could have been great hires. The reality, though, is that I have one position to fill, so I’m only saying yes to one person. As a candidate, I used to think that I would be hired if I were a great candidate, but with more experience on the other side I now know that I can be a great candidate and still get rejected. Sure there are times it’s clearly a stretch for me, but most times it helps me put in perspective what a rejection is: It’s the most common result from an application, and says nothing about me.

  15. theletter*

    I found it’s very helpful to have a spreadsheet that’s a little like a sales pipeline

    I’ll have a section for ‘leads’ (jobs where I am going to apply) / ‘contacted’ (where I have applied and for what / ‘active’ (we’re talking) / ‘negotiating’ (offer is on the table) and ‘closed/no response’.

    Sales is always about keeping the pipeline of leads full. So your time working on the job search might be to spend a couple hours creating the leads list, then an hour of applying to what looks best. After the first day, you should start with tasks closest related to success (‘negotiating’) and then work your way back to the ‘get more leads’ activities. That way, at the end of each job search session, you’re refilling your lead pipeline with more exciting opportunities, and you can go to bed thinking about all those fresh prospects!

  16. Paralegally Blonde*

    I know I’m four years late to this party, but WTF to the mouth taping happening in one of Alison’s linked Bad Workplaces??? I long for an update from the writer that they ended up using that tape to stick the manager to the wall or ceiling while they packed their bags and scarpered!

    1. COHikerGirl*

      I am reading these comments for any sign of an update. I somehow missed that letter (though I had COVID when the update came out, so probably part of the reason…I always read the updates!). I hope they started applying right when Alison told them they didn’t need to wait and hope they got something before things shut down…poor kid (and now I’m old).

  17. daffodil*

    OP in addition to the other good advice offered here, find something absorbing and ideally multi-sensory you enjoy to do to recenter yourself as a whole person outside the job search. Something with an exercise component like hiking or dance has the added benefit of physically working out some of those feelings, but something creative or social might help too. Aside from SSRIs (which I assume you’re already using or considering since you mentioned a psychiatrist) these are the only ways I’ve been able to address outsized unavoidable feelings.

  18. Seashell*

    I guess we live in an age of immediate gratification, but expecting an answer days after an interview seems completely unrealistic. Sometimes people get interviewed & hiring gets put on hold, so the answer theoretically could be months later. Stick with the one “thank you” email unless you hear more.

    Decades ago, when I was looking for my first real job, I read a statistic that said the average job seeker has 11 interviews before finding a job. I don’t know if that was accurate then or if it would be accurate today, but my job search wound up hitting that number on the nose. Maybe that would put the current disappointments in perspective.

    1. MyStars*

      This is consistent with sales advice that says you can expect to hear nine no’s for every yes.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I think every generation lives in an age of immediate gratification when they are young (because babies that cry tend to get fed), and learning that things take time….well, that takes time. And experience.

      Your first paragraph is tangentially ageist, but your second paragraph is spot on. You are always going to hear a lot of “no”s in any career path; you’ve just got to power through them. The caveat I would add is that the first “yes” you get might not be the job you want. Job interviewing is a bit of a dance; you need to make sure that the company checks off as many of your boxes as possible. You don’t want to just go with the first one to offer you a job because you are eager to dance. They might end up stepping on your toes a lot.

      1. Seashell*

        We’re all living in the current age, so I am not sure how that observation is at all ageist.

        1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          You were clearly making a “kids these days” argument. You are the one who brought up “decades ago” with the implication that was a different time from now when everyone expects “immediate gratification”.

          FYI, clinical anxiety is by definition unrealistic. That’s why OP is seeing both a therapist and a doctor.

    3. Kara*

      Depending on what field the LW was working in while they went to school, “days” might be the timeline they’re used to working with. Retail is a common example of such. If that’s the case, they’re going to need to switch their mindset for a much longer timeline.

  19. subaru outback driver*

    I think the online dating analogy is really important. When it comes to applying you need to send your app in and just forget about it. If you get an interview, you need to do your best and just forget it afterwards. Just like in dating one is not entitled to a second date, you are not entitled to a job or even a reason why you didn’t get the job. The good news if you keep applying, you will eventually land something. Keep your head up! You will get there!

  20. Ellis Bell*

    I don’t want to suggest a scattergun approach where you’re applying for anything and everything; but it is true that the more applications you do, or the more routinely you do a certain number, the less likely you are to have visions and fantasies of working for Company X.

    1. Jade*

      This feels right to me – as a person who has had zero success recently, the first few burned but now I barely think about applications after I hit “submit.” I guess this means I’m jaded :/

  21. LingNerd*

    Something that really helped me detach from the job search process was realizing that essentially what I was doing was asking companies to judge my worth based on a piece of paper and a couple conversations. Of course that’s terrifying! But at the same time, it really put it into perspective how little information they have about me. They really only get enough to judge my monetary worth as an employee, and even that’s debatable. They absolutely do not have enough information to judge my worth as a person. And I know – both intellectually and emotionally – that I as a person am worth more than my job or my salary.

  22. AnnieG*

    Maybe try my brand of neurotic thinking: as long as I haven’t heard back there’s still hope, so in a way no news is good news.

  23. Grace*

    I try to have multiple interview processes going on in parallel, as that seems to help me avoid getting overly attached to any one employer.

    It also helps with interview nervousness — – e.g. “if I flub this one, then
    – there are always the others coming up
    – the one two days ago might have gone really well

    Depends on what field you’re in (I’m in tech/rather senior level) and how much PTO you have available, though, of course.

    1. Grace*

      (I mean there tend to be a lot of jobs available in my field at my level; I don’t know whether the job search landscape looks like for a paralegal just starting out. If PTO doesn’t currently apply to your situation, that’s more availability to interview! but also more time to stew, perhaps.)

  24. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

    There’s a lot of good job-interview-specific advice here. I wanted to weigh in with some “anxiety as it relates to hearing back about a situation” advice from personal experience (in my case, lots of experience waiting to hear back about medical scan results with the potential to be very scary news).

    Take the timeline you’re given for hearing back. (At the end of your first interview, if you aren’t already, ask “When should I expect to hear back from you about the next steps?”). In the job interview case, double that.

    Take your anxiety and excitement about whether or not you got the job and put it in a folder labeled “Do Not Open Until (date)”. Put that folder in a mental filing cabinet. When you find yourself spiraling about the job, put that paper back in the folder and close the door again. You’re still giving yourself permission to worry about the outcome – just Not Yet! I can’t promise it will work for you, but as someone with anxiety (not formally diagnosed, but it’s pretty obvious) and some scary waiting-for-results behind me it worked for me.

  25. KR*

    Dealing with an anxiety disorder in the workplace and while job hunting is so hard. My sympathies OP

  26. Pippa*

    Recently retired paralegal here – law schools teach many specific things and attorneys are great at those specific things; however, most attorneys are not good at the administrative and management side of their practices. What that means for this LW is that hiring almost always takes much, much longer than HR and the hiring manager expects.
    Something to consider – widen your net for possible possitions. “Paralegal” jobs exist outside of the legal industry, they just have different job titles. Interested in litigation – look at risk management in health care and insurance for instance. Interested in fair housing – maybe local planning or zoning office analysts. Also, a fair number of industries have strong in-house legal departments. In-house paralegals can have more flexibility than those at law firms as the corporate management structure is typically less rigid than that in a law firm.

  27. kiki*

    For me, I just remind myself that it is a job that will require me to wake up and be somewhere at 8am. That usually tempers my excitement, haha!

  28. Generic Name*

    What I find frustrating about the situation and the resultant advice to not get too excited too early is some employers are expecting a display of excitement and enthusiasm for the company/job during the interview process. I try to keep my expectations moderated, and as a result I worry I look flat or uninterested. Maybe others are better at feigning enthusiasm/are better at acting than I am. Even for my current job, I was a little unsure how I would like it even after I got hired. It wasn’t until I had been in the job for a few months that I decided, “Yeah, I really like this”.

    1. Axel*

      Yeah I really worry about this myself. Especially in the cover letter writing process – I’m trying to sound enthusiastic though not over the top, and in the process of writing this letter intending to present myself and the workplace as a great fit I end up convincing myself of the same in the process. It’s a vicious cycle! Like, dang, I wish I didn’t *mean it* when I was writing in these letters that I’m excited for the chance to apply with x company, haha.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        Maybe something that could help you both rather than saying how excited you are would be to identify a skill that would be helpful to the employer that you would have needed some initiative to figure out. An example of my own from a previous cover letter:
        “ Some skills that could be helpful specifically to the [employer] include increasing your office’s visibility on the [jurisdiction’s proprietary] website [platform] and improving public access.” It took very minimal initiative on my part to see who the website provider was, but it DID require initiative. This is also the only part of my resume I customized. The rest is brief, professional and polite boilerplate.

        Remember, cover letters are to get the employer excited, not you.

  29. MyStars*

    In many decision making venues (including dating and job hunting) I make three lists: (1) what do I NEED? (2) what do I WANT? (3) what are the DEALBREAKERS? I then use these lists for neutral evaluations. if the job can’t completely fill list #1 and has anything on #3, then it’s a no go, no matter how pretty it looks otherwise. This helps me be clear about the difference between the needs, which are not negotiable, and the wants, which are, and to steer wide of the future pain and abuse that usually travels with my personal dealbreakers.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I am speechless. This is an amazing approach to job hunting as well as so many other things. Thank you. (*furiously scribbles notes*)

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Same!!! Making a google doc now with them! I’m searching for a house now too and I already made a list like that for house hunting…it makes perfect sense to do it for job hunting too!

  30. MassMatt*

    Most people probably experience this to some degree. Several people in my family found they were really getting upset about it, and in every case the problem was they were not applying to enough jobs, and instead placing all their hopes in that one application.

    You don’t want to spam hundreds of applications, but unless you are in a VERY a niche field, there’s more than one potential employer out there for you, especially in entry level and early careers, and especially now where working remotely means you can do many jobs from anywhere.

    If you have at least a few jobs/interviews/leads in your pipeline it’s easier not to get too attached to just one of them.

  31. All Outrage, All The Time*

    There have been times in my career over the last 35 years where I had to apply for at least 20 jobs to get one interview, then 5 or 6 interviews to get an offer. Sometimes the statistics were higher. Once I applied for around 100 jobs before I got an offer. I think the key is just keep applying. A job search is a pipeline. I keep feeding the pipeline. I guess I’m old enough to be jaded by work, as well. It doesn’t matter how great the job seems on the surface there will be some downside that will eventually surface.

    I started a new job this week and my closest coworker is very nice but SHE NEVER STOPS TALKING. I mean, she barely pauses for breath. By the time I got home I had a headache from it. Fortunately I’ll be WFH and most likely won’t interact with her that much. I couldn’t tolerate it if I was in the office with her all day. I’d have to resign.

  32. Jill Swinburne*

    Hooray, finally a practical use for my tendency to find the negative! I just realised I’ve been doing this subconsciously – yeah, sounds like the pay will be good but it’ll take longer to get to work, I don’t love the location, etc.

  33. Paralegal Part Deux*

    As a paralegal, I will say that it’s incredibly hard to get hired with no experience. Not a lot of firms want to train. If you want a job eventually as a paralegal, you may need to aim lower and work your way up from there – as in receptionist or legal assistant. There’s a whole subreddit dedicated to paralegals, and there are a LOT that had to start out as a receptionist or legal assistant just to gain real world experience.

    Law school doesn’t teach you anything but how to think like an attorney. I’ve had to train newly graduated attorneys, because they don’t have the hands on experience a seasoned paralegal has.

  34. RNL*

    Hey OP! As a person with ADHD and related rejection sensitivity dysphoria, I have had very little to almost no luck just… not feeling things when putting myself out there for jobs, romantically, etc. I know I overreact to these situations. It’s just who I am.

    So I just work hard on expecting, naming, and managing the feelings, and not acting on them. Like, oh yes hi intrusive thoughts how are you, let me go for a walk/call a friend/eat a snack.

    For me, applying for job is a Huge Trigger for these kinds of feelings, even now at a high level in my career, married, with children, etc. Repetition helps, but mostly just knowing that this is who I am and working on management strategies and not beating myself up for having outsized feelings in relation to both rejection and ambiguity.

  35. Blue Pen*

    I think this is what Alison’s saying here, but I would almost advise going into your interviews with the mindset that “it’s not that great to work here.” It’s not at all about being a sourpuss during the interview or to deter you from feeling excited or hopeful; it’s more about recalibrating the situational dynamics to the point that you’re waiting for them to convince you that you’re the right person for this position and not the other way around.

    AAM was the first career resource I ever saw reminding readers that you’re part in this process is just as valuable; the job has to work for you, too, and it’s not just about you making the case for yourself. They have to make the case for themselves, too, and the more you internalize and remember that, the less personally invested you’ll be.

  36. Heta-Uma*

    Oh, I feel this. A while ago, I applied for The Perfect Job. Even though logically I knew I might not get it, there was a small but very busy part of my brain that had built this marvelous picture of what it would be like when I entered the hallowed halls of Perfect Job. The picture seemed to take up more and more space in my head the further through the process I got. Something about my particular brand of neurodivergence meant that I could get fixed on a particular thing to a degree that was a little bit unhealthy, and it was working overtime on this one.

    I did not get the job (and it took them literal months to get back to me about it. Government job where recruitment deadlines are measured in eons.)

    What worked for me was probably not what will work for you, sorry, but I did find my way to overcome the feelings of woe. For me, not getting Perfect Job was actually a really good thing. I did some more research, got a better idea of where I’d gone wrong, and went through a couple more interviews, getting more confident each time. And I did get another job. Not as fancy, but in a department that seems to be a really good place to work. That wider experience gave me the perspective I needed to realise that Perfect Job was, in fact, just a job with its own plus points and pitfalls, and that there were other places that were also just as good to belong to.

    I hope that you find your own way to manage your feelings, and good luck with the job hunt!

  37. Nonprofit manager*

    As a hiring manager, I am actively looking for someone who is coming into the hiring process (and the job) with a clear head. I work for a desirable non-profit, and I’ve had people be convinced they’d be wonderful for the job/organization but it was clear from my perspective that they weren’t actually listening or absorbing what I was describing about the role. For example, my field often attracts people who just want to get their work done, but our organization operates VERY collaboratively. I also point that out in my intro spiel about the role, but then responses I get to questions indicate they are just SO EXCITED and tied to this idea they have of the job that they aren’t hearing me.

    All that to say – expressing enthusiasm is good and you should be interested in the role, but asking detailed questions that show you’re actually thinking through how you would work or succeed in the role, especially the parts that won’t appeal to everyone, is even better. Practice a lot of active listening during the interviews, ask questions that get to what might be less than ideal, and be ok saying “yeah, I could see how that doesn’t work for everyone but here’s why I could manage that”.

  38. LaurCha*

    I hate that this is going to be annoying advice, but here we go… if you don’t have any law office experience, consider applying for legal intake positions. You won’t be doing paralegal work, but you’ll get to know how law offices work. You may have already clerked or been a summer associate, if so, feel free to ignore this advice. If you haven’t done nitty-gritty stuff, it might be hard to start at the paralegal title.

  39. Analogy*

    The dating analogy seems so appropriate to me at this moment!
    I just finished listening to the book Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller. It’s about types of attachment and how to deal with them.
    Best wishes on your search, OP. May you find the right job for you.

  40. MicroManagered*

    If it gets long enough and there’s still radio silence, I send another follow-up email reiterating my interest and asking when I should expect to hear back.

    OP I think you should stop sending a second follow-up email — it’s annoying to hiring managers and makes you look like you don’t understand professional norms. In fact, when you have that urge to send a second follow-up, that should be your alarm bell.

    “Ding ding ding! I’m getting too invested too early on.”

  41. Mia*

    I struggle with this so much, OP. I know I SHOULD put it out of my mind, but find it hard to do so. Alison’s advice here is great- because it’s true you don’t know for sure what a job would be like. In fact, I am the OP from the micromanager letter Alison linked in her response, and how sad to think that I was DYING to get this job and SO EXCITED to start.

    Here are two things that have helped me:

    1. While you may not be able to keep your mind off the situation, try to avoid actions that feed the obsession. For example, I try to resist the temptation to check the website obsessively to see if the job is still posted, go on LinkedIn to try to figure who got a job I didn’t get, go through email exchanges with the hiring manager and try to parse out meaning, etc. Much like with the dating analogy- I may not be able to stop thinking about an ex, but I can certainly stop checking his Instagram, and that makes it a LITTLE easier not to obsess.

    2. Have lots of irons in the fire. Continue to apply for jobs, look for new postings, reach out to potential contacts, go to networking events. Its much easier for me not to obsess over one job when I have other interviews scheduled – then you don’t feel like there’s so much riding on the outcome of one particular interview.

    Good luck!!!

  42. Mia*

    I struggle with this so much, OP. I know I SHOULD put it out of my mind, but find it hard to do so. Alison’s advice here is great- because it’s true you don’t know for sure what a job would be like. In fact, I am the OP from the micromanager letter Alison linked in her response, and how sad to think that I was DYING to get this job and SO EXCITED to start.

    Here are two things that have helped me:

    1. While you may not be able to keep your mind off the situation, try to avoid actions that feed the obsession. For example, I try to resist the temptation to check the website obsessively to see if the job is still posted, go on LinkedIn to try to figure who got a job I didn’t get, go through email exchanges with the hiring manager and try to parse out meaning, etc. Much like with the dating analogy- I may not be able to stop thinking about an ex, but I can certainly stop checking his Instagram, and that makes it a LITTLE easier not to obsess.

    2. Have lots of irons in the fire. Continue to apply for jobs, look for new postings, reach out to potential contacts, go to networking events. Its much easier for me not to obsess over one job when I have other interviews scheduled – then you don’t feel like there’s so much riding on the outcome of one particular interview.

    Good luck!

  43. NotSarah*

    I agree that finding a new job is a lot taking a lover – the spark has to be mutual and organic. You can’t make arrows fly…one day it just happens and then you find yourself reading AAM on your 15 on a beautiful afternoon in your super cute new office.
    Knowing that the timeline is not your own doesn’t make the process any easier. To some degree, you are not in control even though it’s *your* job search.
    All the best, LW. That spark will happen. Just keep letting go.

  44. TheGirlInTheAfternoon*

    I work in legal hiring! Unfortunately, firms are notorious for ghosting candidates. Here is the timeline I advise job-seekers on: When you have the interview, send a thank-you, then expect to hear nothing for two weeks, regardless of any shorter timeline they say. If you haven’t heard back by that point, ONE additional email or phone call is appropriate, to remind them that you’re interested. Then assume that they will contact you if they want to move forward.

    This timeline may be in line with what you’re already doing, but if it’s not, I’d start by setting the above as a baseline.

  45. Dido*

    I think this sort of thing is inevitable when you’re looking for your first or maybe second professional job and are just desperate to get your foot in the door. I was like this as well, but three years into my career I don’t sweat interviews at all as I’m already in a well-compensated job that I enjoy and if I were looking to move, I have enough experience that there are plenty of other opportunities if one doesn’t work out.

  46. Axel*

    LW, I am currently about to finish law school with middling grades, a mediocre CV, and 30+ applications for articling positions with 1 interview invitation so far. I feel your pain extremely well. I just wanted to stop by and say that the thing that’s helping me the most is to try and just… forget about the application entirely after I’ve sent it. It’s all excruciating and I got way too excited about writing some cover letters for places I was really keen on a chance at and. Well. Suffice it to say you’re in good company, and just letting it go as much as possible has been my only saving grace. Firms are notorious, like TheGirlInTheAfternoon said, for ghosting applicants. It doesn’t mean anything about your ability to do a good job or be a good candidate – happens to all of us.

  47. GD*

    Oh, what good timing for this letter!
    The advice is so much easier to take when you’re employed and looking for a job.
    If I’m not dating anyone – that’s okay; I don’t NEED to date even if it would be nice to have a partner! But if I’m not employed – that’s a different situation because I do need money!
    I think Alison’s interviewing advice PDF is helpful (and spot on) with the idea of replaying the interview again and again, and each time it seems to get worse and worse with time (“ah! Did I sound too enthusiastic/flippant/bored/stupid with that answer? What did their face mean when I introduced myself? Was my outfit not right?”).
    For me, at least, after many interviews but no offers, I certainly wonder if my internal gauge for how well an interview went is way off. I know there could be tons of reasons why I didn’t get an offer, and many of those out of my control, but it’s still a bit of a “Is it me?” situation internally.

  48. Pierrot*

    A couple thoughts from a paralegal/ someone who’s been invited to a lot of interviews and then rejected.

    – Practice interviewing and really prepare. It’s a good sign that you’ve gotten a number of interviews, but you might need to prepare more than you have been, and Allison has really great tips on that. Practicing helps with your confidence/impression you’re giving and with your actual responses.

    – Paralegal jobs can differ in the amount of clerical work (versus research and writing) that’s involved. It’s not always clear from there job description, but usually there are signs. If you’re interviewing for a job that is more clerical and does not involve a lot of research, make sure you are not over emphasizing your research and writing abilities at the expense of your interest/abilities with admin work.

  49. badsneakers*

    OP, I’ve been through this too and after a while realized that it works well for me to spend a certain period of time after the interview letting myself daydream, and then forcing myself to move on to another thing to think about like a major project.

    Good luck to you. Job-hunting is rough. When I worked as a paralegal I got into it by starting as a temp secretary who sepcialized in working for law firms so maybe that will help you get the experience you need.

  50. 15 Pieces of Flair*

    OP’s excitement, anxiety, disappointment cycle describes how I approached job searches when I was younger. Excitement and anxiety are two sides of the same coin, and, of course, someone is very invested in the outcome of interviews when they are directly tied to the ability to support themself.

    Unfortunately, getting excited to the point of being over eager hurts your chances of getting a job. Using the dating example, most people shy away from someone who gets attached prematurely because it reads as desperate.

    Here are some tips that helped me move from the “desperate job beggar” mindset to a competitive candidate one:
    1. Find a way to meet your immediate needs if you don’t currently have a job. This might be taking a temporary (for you) job, freelancing, gig work, etc.
    2. Translate the excitement from each interview request into more activity to generate new leads (reaching out to connections, following up with recruiters, etc) rather focusing on just this one job. Use the motivation from a “win” to propel you forward.
    3. Accept lots of initial interviews even if you’re not very excited about the opportunity. The more you interview, the more confidence you’ll have and the less you’ll fixate on any one interview.

  51. NameRequired*

    OP, think of it in terms of dating. After a guy asks you out, do you immediately start picturing yourself married, doodling your name with his last name, what will your kids look like, etc…? Probably not. You’re doing the same thing with each job application. You need to temper your expectations and view each interview as “ok this is only the first date, we may not be compatible so slow down.” Good Luck and I hope you do find “the one” (job) soon!

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