Overcoming the Fear of Hitting ‘Send’ in Your Job Search

Have you had to send a job search email to reach out to people you don’t know? Make a request of your professional network to advance your job search? Ask your friends for career advice?  All of these job search activities can be overwhelming and can paralyze a new-to-the-job-search-game job seeker. It can be difficult overcoming the fear of  hitting ‘send’ in your job search.

Why is sending an email so hard? The act of clicking the mouse to send the electronic message into cyberspace can bring a myriad of opportunities to us. The potential we can capitalize on is infinite by simply reaching out to another from pressing that proverbial ‘send’ button–yet why don’t we do it more often as we should to advance our job search?The answer is that insidious 4-letter word: FEAR. We are afraid sending that email may work. We fear it may not work. We are scared nothing may happen…or everything may happen, for that matter. We have an aversion to the unknown and abhor things when they do not go as planned. We can be frozen fearing we may do it wrong or make a mistake. So in light of all this uncertainty, we wait. We don’t hit send.

I see it all the time: the painful paralysis from projecting extreme outcomes from our actions that we don’t take.

How do we overcome the fear of hitting ‘send’ so we can just send the email, specifically to someone we don’t know?

Think through the fear….yes, just think it through and imagine what is the worst that will happen. Let’s try it. Let’s think though some of the possible outcomes:


(1) They don’t email back. Radio silence. Ok. You are no worse off than you were when you started. Also, it is one email. You can try again and/or try another communication method (phone call, tweet, etc.) In all sales training books and training I have taken (most recently Neil Rackham’s Spin Selling), it’s stated that it can take 5-6 attempts before you get a response. So I say, one down. Four or five more to go!

(2) They email you back interested. Amen! It actually worked. They want to talk to you. Get on it!!  Find out what they need and tell him how fabulous you are for their opportunity.

(3) They email you back saying some variation of, “thanks, but no thanks.”  This is good for one main reason: you received a response and have closure. You don’t have to keep wondering about this lead and can focus energy on exploring another.

(4) They email you back a nasty, impolite “how did you get my name and why are you emailing me?” –This seems to be a common fear rooted in “what if they don’t like me?”  Well, let’s assume this happens. I say, “Hallelujah!” Why? Because you found out very early in the process that this person is terrible to people BEFORE you may have gone through a whole interview process and <gasp!> accepted an offer at this company to work with this person. Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, I have come to believe “Rejection is God’s Protection.”  Disheartening to be scolded, yes, but move on…there’s nothing else to see here.

(5) We fear we may say/do something wrong. Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin, has a two-word line that has changed my life and shifted my thinking: Artist’s Ship. You are the artist of your own job search and career. To move it forward you must produce communications and ship. If you wait to get it 110% precisely perfect, you may be stuck waiting. Or worse, you may miss on the first shot, which is totally normal, but because you put so much expectation on this one attempt it can leave you mentally deflated. You may not want to try again. Kiss of job search death is to stop trying.  Just keep stepping up to the plate and swing. Keep shipping. You increase the odds of something happening with each try.

As you can see, none of these outcomes are a travesty. Setbacks at least and progress at most are what happens. And you have lived through it. I find more often you will discover the disastrous, worst case scenario hardly ever happens, yet we wasted all that energy and brain power getting ready for it…So go ahead. Hit ‘send’ and reap the rewards in your job search!


Overcoming the Fear of Hitting ‘Send’ in Your Job Search


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