Vulnerability and The Job Search

Hunting for work is tough…No matter what. In most cases, the job search is happening because you’re 1) out of work, 2) feeling stuck at your current position and want to move up and into more challenging work, 3) need more money, 4) are moving to a new place, 5) can’t stand your boss or the politics at work. All of these situations come with their own stressors. Even if you’re just ready for new challenges and are ready to move up and out, looking for a new job without the pressure of needing to move – it still isn’t easy!

Whether you recognize it or not, the very act of job searching makes anyone feel vulnerable. From the online search, to asking friends (or others we don’t even consider friends) and family for advice or help, from dusting off the resume, to the awkwardness of being interviewed… pretty much all of it just puts you at the mercy of others. There are those unique few who get more offers than they can keep up with, but they, too have to go through some hoops to actually seal the new job deal. Essentially, job hunting puts you entirely out there on other people’s terms. And that is not comfortable.

What’s really going on here? I’m a believer in investigating the truth of feelings and beliefs, so let’s dig a little deeper into why the job search makes you feel vulnerable, and then address a few ways to fight these often debilitating feelings of insecurity, so you can tackle your search with confidence and gusto that feels so much better. 


As I mentioned above, most job searches are done out of necessity. If you’re stable and happy where you are, you probably wouldn’t be looking for a new job. Instead, searching for work is just one piece of what you’re going through – and that can make a whole chunk of your life feel uncertain. We humans don’t like uncertainty. Period.

Wanting to know what’s next and how it’s going to happen, and what the days will look like, and what the money will be.  You want to know, and know sooner than later. Uncertainty feels scary, and not being in charge of the outcome makes you feel vulnerable. You can’t help but wonder what will happen if you can’t figure out the next step, or if the step you take is the wrong one. You might even start to question how to take that next step at all…feeling like you simply have no clue about how to get started.

Putting Yourself Out There with Little Feedback

For most people, searching for a job involves responding to job postings, submitting online applications, and then getting very few responses – if any. Online job sites like and LinkedIn might appear to make things easier than going door-to-door with your resume, but it also means sifting through pages upon pages of search results, looking for what fits your needs, and sending out a totally impersonal email/resume/submission form. It also means you’re responding to what’s out there, not creating or designing what you want. I know this can all start to feel fruitless. You’re just sending away cover letters and applications, but when you aren’t hearing much back, the hopelessness (and the vulnerability that comes with it) starts to set in.

Even if you are getting some calls back, interviewing for positions is surely tough on the nerves. There’s nothing else like the social interaction of a job interview…except maybe dating – another big vulnerability experience! — and if you aren’t selected, it can feel defeating.

The point is that the whole process of job searching is an exercise in going out on a limb. You’re putting yourself out there every step of the way, and of course that’s going to make you feel vulnerable. Here are some ways you can alleviate those feelings, so you can keep going with energy and resilience.

Look For The Good and Be a Good Coach to Yourself

Vulnerability doesn’t necessarily feel great – but it is, in a way, good for you. Stretching into the unknown is how we grow. When you’re feeling these kinds of emotions, it forces you to dig deep to go for what you want. In order to move on, you have to be uncomfortable enough to say it’s time to move, and hold a vision that’s compelling enough to keep inspiring you to take action to get to that better place. This vision is what keeps you motivated and energized through the feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability.

I know that this kind of vulnerability can be tough when you feel like you’re leaning on others for support; but this is what our loved ones are there for…hopefully all of us can share our foibles and fears and get at least some of the encouragement we need and desire. Additionally, though, It’s from this kind of challenge that we all can learn more about ourselves, what’s really important to us. You come to know your inner resilience and deeper motivators. I’ve heard clients learn to internalize encouraging words; they learn to recognize and remember their strengths, skills and gifts to continue to internally, and externally, promote themselves to keep at it. This is challenging for a lot of people; it’s not about bragging, but about seeing clearly what you have, in your own unique way, to contribute. Knowing yourself is part of your personal power. Stretching into owning this, and knowing how to talk about yourself and what you have to offer, genuinely, is empowering.

Don’t Take it Personally

When you’re the one looking for a job, it’s easy to think only about yourself. YOU need work. YOU are feeling vulnerable because of the “put yourself out there” nature of the process…

But employers have so much more going on. A lack of response, or not being selected after an interview may feel awful, but it’s all about you. Taking this view might help you feel a little less vulnerable. In fact, I find that the hiring process usually just points out how inefficient the process is. Unfortunately, hiring has become quite un-humane. It’s the process, not necessarily you. But do your part, and do it well. Follow up if you don’t hear back, send thank you notes to those who have helped with the process. Keep in touch. Don’t hold a grudge. You never know when you’ll run into the person you interviewed with in another context.

Keep Going

One way or another, if you keep at it, you’ll find your next opportunity. The only way this won’t happen is if you don’t take action. Yes, you might need to get some professional advice about your resume or other aspects of your job search; but this is a good investment in the long run. Remember how you’ve landed other jobs, remember other times you felt vulnerable and uncertain, and how you pushed through. You’ve made it this far, through other applications and interviews, other difficult job searches, and so much more – and you’re still here! In fact, you’re likely stronger and more experienced because of it. Brene Brown shares that vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity…out of this discomfort comes something real and strong. Let your strength and courage show up for you. Expect the unexpected. It’s going to happen because of your efforts.