Hays Ireland jobs and employment blog



The biggest fears when applying for a new role

By Maureen Lynch, Director of Hays Ireland

You don’t need to go looking for a new job in order for you to stumble across an exciting opportunity that grabs your attention. Many candidates come across new roles where the job description ticks all the boxes, they review their CV and write up a cover letter yet are hesitant to hit send on the application button. What is stopping them?

Changing jobs can be scary, even more so when the possibility of moving jobs wasn’t on their radar. Below I outline the most common fears experienced by candidates when applying for a new role and how to overcome them.

1. Your skillset and previous experience aren’t an exact match

Do you feel like you aren’t “good enough” for the job? And if so, why? Is it because you think that you don’t fit 100% of the criteria set out in the job spec? Because if so, ask yourself whether you actually want to move to a job that you could do with your eyes closed. Wouldn’t you rather take on a role which challenged and upskilled you? These are the roles which can propel you to where you want to get to in your career journey.

Yes, there may be skills which are absolutely essential to the role, and there’s no escaping that. However, hiring managers are often flexible when a candidate lacks a “desired” rather than a “required” criteria. Furthermore, if you can emphasise on your CV that you have the soft skills needed to pick up new concepts quickly, such as being an inquisitive and diligent fast learner, this will help your application. Remember to give examples of this in practice too, for instance, when you joined your last job and you didn’t know how to use social media scheduling platforms, so you upskilled using an online webinar and now you’re a pro.

2. You’ve never worked in that industry

Is this industry new to you? Perhaps the job description contained some industry jargon which threw you, further confounding your worry that you’re a complete outsider.

Remember, everyone has to begin somewhere – even the most renowned industry experts will have most likely started out feeling exactly the same as you do right now. Furthermore, switching industries is, in my opinion, a great career move and one you should brave from time to time. How else will you broaden your professional expertise and adaptability? What’s more, how will you find out what you are truly passionate about?

Employers will often embrace the fresh perspective of an industry outsider, just so long as they immerse themselves in this industry and improve their knowledge on the job. As such, tweak your CV and highlight in the personal statement that you want to learn more about this industry and why.

3. You underestimate yourself and focus on the competition

Believing that you won’t stack up against the competition is a very common fear, especially when applying via platforms where you can see how many other people have applied, such as on job boards and LinkedIn.

For some reason, you assume that these other applicants are all so much more qualified and that you don’t stand a chance. Well, if you are going to assume the worst, why don’t you also assume the best? Maybe the hundreds of applications received were a case of quantity over quality, and that yours will be one of the few quality CVs received.

Building your self-confidence when applying for job, is all about forming and projecting a more positive perception of yourself. If you feel hesitant in applying, give yourself a pep talk, and remind yourself of all you have achieved in your career. Write down everything you have to offer which makes you a good fit for the role. I would also advise identifying the keywords used to describe the ideal candidate on the job description, and including these keywords wherever possible on your CV. Not every candidate will think to do this, and keyword optimisation to emphasise your suitability may well set your CV apart.

4. Fear of starting something new

Given that this opportunity came somewhat out of the blue, the sudden prospect of leaving your comfort zone can be pretty overwhelming, not to mention daunting. You’re probably remembering just how much change is involved in moving jobs; a new commute, different colleagues, unfamiliar tasks and so forth. And suddenly sticking with what you know feels much safer and more sensible.

Firstly, safer isn’t always better, and if you want to move forward in your career, you will need to take a leap of faith every now and again. Secondly, stop getting ahead of yourself! You are only applying for a job right now and that’s it. If you start to think about all of the “what ifs” later down the line, then of course, you are going to feel daunted. Take it one step at a time, but be bold and courageous each time you get a bit further along in the application process.

5. You’re afraid the timing is wrong

It never is. Why do you think the timing is wrong, and, be honest, is this just an excuse? If you think the timing is off because you’re just about to get a promotion, pay rise or excellent training opportunity, then it’s important to realise that these are all factors which can be negotiated with your potential new employer during the later stages of the interview process.

Or is it that you feel that your company needs you right now, and to abandon ship would be disloyal and you would risk burning bridges? Perhaps you’re midway through an important project that your boss needs you to complete, or maybe your team are thin on the ground. Either way, it’s natural to feel guilty about leaving at this moment in time.

But think about it – how would your boss react if they found their perfect job opportunity? If they’re focused on their own career goals, as we all should be, then they probably wouldn’t think twice about going for it – there’s nothing to lose. Also, remember that your notice period is there for a reason so that your work can be handed over and your successor can be found. There’s nothing for you to feel guilty about. When it comes to your career progression, you have to put your own needs first, even if it does feel selfish.

For more information on your recruitment needs, please contact your local consultant

About this author

Maureen joined Hays in 2000 where she specialised in Senior Accounting and Finance recruitment. With over 17 years’ experience, Maureen is the Director for Cork, Limerick and Galway along with over overseeing the Banking and Construction & Property operations in Cork. She also provides training expertise in the area of candidate screening and interviewing.


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