How You May Be Subconsciously Sabotaging Your Job Search

Many job seekers tell me that it’s frustrating to hear employed friends joke about how nice it must be to have so much free time. They don’t understand how truly exhausting job search is. It’s easy to take these comments to heart. When they’re compounded by unavoidable thoughts of self-doubt, you may be left in a pretty glum state.

Candidates underestimate the fact that the more they doubt themselves, the more confidence they’ll lose. Confidence is difficult to fake. You may overcompensate by “acting the part” you think a company wants. But as you lose sight of who you really are, your interviews will inevitably suffer.

Break this vicious cycle by staying true to yourself, even when the going gets tough. Here are four reasons to embrace your unique experiences and gifts to land that dream job.

1. Authenticity is palpable 

Hiring managers can smell inauthenticity. It’s human nature. Acting like someone you’re not will hurt your interview or — worse — trap you in a job you’ll hate.

Tell your unique story. Demonstrate how it will add true value to the job. The more authentic you are, the more confident you’ll be. This rapport-building confidence is often the deciding factor between two equally qualified candidates.

2. The facts will check out, so embrace them

Inconsistencies in what you say, how you act, what your résumé presents and what references say are easy for any moderately skilled executive to spot. HR staff members are particularly adept at noting discrepancies, especially in the age of social media.

Make sure you’re consistently represented across all social media platforms. After all, it’s very easy to find contradictions in your language, passions, history and initial interest in the company.

3. Authenticity will lead you to your dreams

Steve Jobs said it best: “…For the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

The company I work for often asks potential hires what their dream job is. It’s very difficult to fake a dream. Telling the interviewer your story not only sets you apart, but it also engages her brain more deeply and makes you memorable. Studies show that stories stick out 22 times better than facts alone.

Even if you don’t get the job, an authentic interview may tell you something about yourself.

Years ago, my wife and I decided to sell our belongings and travel the world after I’d earned my MBA and worked for five years. After returning I received a call from an executive recruiter for a Fortune 50 company. During the interview I tried to hide my “gap,” but when the backpacking trip came up, the interviewer quipped, “I’m sorry, but my client doesn’t want people who are so adventurous and free-spirited!”

While this angered me at first, this interview pushed me to move forward with starting my own company. I’m so glad I was able to gain perspective in that interview; it uncovered my true passion.

4. You’re not the only one being screened

Staying true to yourself starts at the beginning of your search. Seek only jobs you think you could love — jobs you’d jump out of bed for.

That can be hard to remember when you feel like your future is in the interviewer’s hands. View yourself as equally powerful. A company may be interviewing you for a specific role, but you’re assessing it, too. Show your interviewer you are a performer with skills and interests that will propel her company forward.

I do yoga, and it takes tremendous energy to maintain an instable pose. Yet, after finding balance, it’s often easy to hold (and even enjoy) a pose for a long time. Similarly, being inauthentic in your approach and interactions with prospective employers can be extremely draining, both mentally and physically.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day,” said researcher Brené Brown. “It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” When you’re faced with this decision, why think twice?

Paresh Shah is an experienced entrepreneur, executive, yogi, life coach and dad of four kids. He’s the founder and CEO of Glimpulse, the Human Expression Company that creates products to challenge, inspire and equip people to be happier, healthier and more giving through authentic self-expression. Follow Paresh on Twitter at @pareshLA.