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3 Signs Perfectionism is Ruining Your Career Goals

Even with the best intentions, your desire to perfect every detail of your job search could actually be getting in the way.

Would you rather your job application be perfect and late or OK and on time?

This question feels like a trick, but it’s actually something you need to really consider during your job search. As a woman, especially, we put a lot of pressure our ourselves to reach our career goals. The weight of workplace inequality still lurks in workplaces everywhere, so that feeling of needing to push our limits is constantly nagging at us.

The need to go above and beyond or the irrational desire to be perfect is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as self-oriented perfectionism. A study by the APA discovered a 10 percent increase from 1989 to 2016 in the score of those with self-oriented perfectionism.

With perfectionism on the rise, more young professionals are being painstakingly diligent. Even with the best intentions, your desire to perfect every detail of your job search could actually be getting in the way of your career goals. Know the signs before it’s too late.

1. You’re turning into a full-time editor.

Hiring pros spend mere minutes reading over your application and resume. Actually, according CareerArc’s 2016 The State of the Candidate Experience report, 72 percent of employers spend less than 15 minutes reviewing an application.

Yes, you need to make sure the contents of your application grab the employer’s or recruiter’s attention. However, CareerArc’s report also found the typical candidate spends three to four hours preparing and submitting an application.

If you’re spending countless hours, or even days, editing, reviewing, and re-reviewing your application, cover letter, and resume, you may actually be hurting your career goals. The longer it takes you to get your application materials to an employer, the more other highly-qualified candidates are being considered.

Rather than spending hours pouring over mistakes you may keep missing, get a second set of eyes on your application, resume, and cover letter. Choose someone you trust to catch mistakes and give you honest feedback, but who will also review in a timely manner.

2. Your honest answers don’t sound earnest.

“Practice makes perfect.”

Perfectionist or not, we’ve all heard this a million times from our parents and teachers. While it’s fitting for piano lessons and soccer practice, over-rehearsing for a job interview is possible.

Digging through every piece of online content titled, “The Top Interview Questions You Need to Know” makes you sound unauthentic, putting a barrier between you and the interviewer.

Unfortunately, if you’re lacking this conversational connection, it could be the one thing standing between you and that offer.

Rather than practicing everything you’ll say to commonly asked questions, focus on the job description and qualifications. Remember, you’re right for this job. Show off your personality and come prepared to have an open discussion about your experiences and why they need to hire you.

3. You find jobs matching your qualifications, but not your expectations.

Your career goals are attainable — but some might not be attainable right now. Perfectionists are known to be aggressive goal-setters and, often times, they don’t attack them in steps but go straight for the gold.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with reaching for your dreams. However, if you’re searching through countless job listings a day and aren’t finding any that suit your expectations, you’re missing valuable opportunities.

Put your career goals into perspective by listing out smaller, sub-goals. Note what experiences, projects, responsibilities, etc., would help you reach that ultimate goal. Then, take these notes and go back to job listings you previously passed up. Look at them with this new perspective in mind and start applying to those that check-off a minimum of three sub-goals. You’ll start to feel a sense of accomplishment as you actively move toward your dream job. 

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