Looking for a new job can be an emotional experience. It’s often a combination of excitement, anticipation, and ambition – but also anxiety.
Clearly much of that anxiety comes from the fear that our current boss might find out that we are looking elsewhere.
A study by Indeed asked 10,000 people around the world how they feel when they’re looking for a new job, and two thirds said that they worry about others discovering what they’re up to.
It’s no surprise that most of us keep tight-lipped when we are on the hunt for a new job.
Our research found that job search is a real taboo on social media – with a quarter of people ranking it as the topic they’re least likely to share online.
More surprising was the lengths many people go to to keep their job plans secret.
In fact, we found that half of jobseekers don’t even tell their partner when applying for a new role.
Such extreme secrecy suggests our anxiety is being driven by more than just the fear of work colleagues, or our boss, finding out that we’re looking around.
Underlying it all is a deeper fear of failure; both the rejection itself if we apply for a job and don’t get it, but also the fear of embarrassment if others see us fail.
One of the world’s leading behavioural economists, professor Paul Dolan of the London School of Economics, helped us analyse the findings of our research.
He points out that people who are open about looking for a new job expose themselves to the risk that others might see them fail.
This is the opposite of most posts on social media, which usually revolve around celebrating success – whether that be a proud parent photo, a perfect sunset snapped on holiday, or a gym selfie.
Dolan argues that if we only ever see those around us succeed, we can start to think we are the only one who fails. We can therefore come to have unattainably high expectations of what constitutes an “average” level of success – all of which can leave us feeling inadequate.
In truth neither extreme is particularly healthy – whether it be oversharing about the healthy breakfast we’re eating, or the MI5-level secrecy in which we shroud our search for a new job.
In an ideal world, we would feel confident enough to talk about both our successes and our failures, because that way we’re all able to learn more about what it is to strive and to grow.