If you’ve lost your job as a result of COVID or anything else then you need to make sure you don’t fall into some serious traps which could derail your job search and stop you from finding another job quickly. With that in mind, here are some of the most dangerous traps you need to avoid and the shifts you need to make when searching for a job in 2021. 

1. Believing you have no value to offer

If you’ve been laid off and you’ve been looking for a job for a long time with no luck, one of the worst things that can happen is losing confidence in yourself and feeling a lack of self worth. This can happen to anyone at any age and with any level of experience. Your confidence can take a serious hit. When this happens, you start to see things in a negative light. Worse still, you could start to believe that the reason you’re not getting any interviews is because you don’t have any of the skills that employers want and that you don’t have anything to offer.

The more jobs you apply for without success, the worse you feel and the worse you feel, the more your confidence drops. Before you know it, you’re in a downward spiral. 

So, what can you do to avoid this situation when you’re searching for a job in 2021, especially when the time it takes to find a new job is longer than you had ever expected? 

Think you’ve got no value to offer? Try this…

It’s important to banish the thought that you have no value to offer if you’re searching for job in 2021, or any other time for that matter. If you’ve started to believe this, here are two exercises that can help.

Firstly, challenge the belief by asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • Is it really true that I have no value or skills at all? 
  • How realistic is it that I have ZERO value or skills to offer?
  • What evidence is there that proves that I have no value or skills? (Beyond the fact that you haven’t found a job – YET) 

If there’s no evidence apart from your current situation that proves you have no skills, then the chances are, this belief isn’t true. Which of course it’s not.

The next step is to challenge yourself to write down as many things as possible that you’re good at. Make this exercise as free flowing as you can. Write everything and anything down, however small it might seem. Treat this as a challenge and just write down whatever comes to mind. Don’t sensor yourself or prejudge the value of the skill, just write it down, even if it doesn’t seem like a valuable skill to you in this moment.

What if I can’t think of anything I’m good at?

Most of us are terrible when it comes to noticing our own strengths. If you find this challenge a struggle, you can do the following:

  • Ask friends and family what they think your strengths are
  • Write down the things that people most often come to you for help with, or the types of questions you get asked all the time
  • Think about any positive feedback you’ve received from managers in the past or projects that you did a great job on.
  • What tasks could you do with ease in your previous jobs
  • Consider things in your everyday life that feel easy to do
  • Include things you just enjoy or love to do OR things you would love to learn

Give yourself a few days for these exercises since things are likely to pop into your head when you least expect it. By the end of the exercise you should have a list that you can refer to whenever needed.

2. Believing you’re never going to find another job

You’ve no doubt heard the old saying, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” As trite as that saying might sound, there’s a reason for it. If you think something won’t work out or that you have no chance of succeeding, the way you approach it is different to how you approach something you believe you have a shot at. 

Which brings me onto #2 on the list of the shifts you need to make when searching for a job in 2021. 

Believe you will find a job and approach each opportunity optimistically. You’ll not only feel more positive about the process, but this positive energy is likely to come across in everything you do as well, from how you complete applications, to how you come across during interview. 

While a long job search is tough, it’s important to remember that ultimately, you will find a new job, as long as you don’t give up. 

In order to stay in the most positive frame of mind, it’s important to give yourself time to recharge. Give yourself some headspace and much needed rest from the process. And give yourself permission to focus on other things. 

And why not try a change of approach. If you’ve been sending out applications, then it’s time to focus on your network ( Which is always a good place to start!).

3. Not keeping an open mind

If you’ve always had an extremely targeted approach to job searching then finding something that fits with your exact requirements could be more difficult, particularly if there are fewer jobs around in your industry.  Being focused and avoiding a scatter gun approach is a good thing but during uncertain times like COVID has brought, this is the time to consider more possibilities, and be open to things you might not have considered before. 

For example, think about different industries, as well as job roles that could be a side step. And while you might never have considered starting your own business, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have the necessary skills to succeed or skills which you could offer as a service, while searching for a job. Given the nature of the current climate, you’d be putting yourself in good stead. If this sounds daunting, just remember, you don’t need to think in absolutes, it doesn’t have to be find a job OR start a business. Instead, try viewing a business venture either as an interim solution or an additional solution, wether that’s consulting, teaching something you know or freelancing. You never know where it might lead. 

4. Letting your self limiting beliefs take charge 

Just because you believe in something, it doesn’t mean it’s true. This is something we forget when it comes to our deep held beliefs, especially the type of beliefs that hold us back and keep us stuck or trapped in some way. These are called limiting beliefs. 

Examples of some of the self limiting beliefs which could hold you back from finding new work in 2021 include: 

  • I’ll never find a job because the market is so bad
  • There no point applying because I don’t have every skill they’re looking for
  • I could’t work for myself I’d be terrible
  • I don’t have any skills or value to offer 
  • You need to have a lot of money to start a business 

The thing about these types of beliefs is that we often don’t put them to the test of truth. For example, is it true that nobody has ever been offered a job which they didn’t have all the skills for? Clearly not.

And what about the belief that you would be no good at something? Surely, unless you’ve actually tried the thing it’s not possible to know for definite. And even if you tried in the past and it didn’t work out- perhaps now is a better time than back then. 

Are you undervaluing your skills?

Finally, the belief that you have no skills or any value to offer, is unfortunately a very common belief held by lots of people about themselves.

But too often we undervalue the skills we do have and place higher value and importance on the skills we don’t. What’s more, it’s easy to assume that because you’re skilled at something, or because you know something, everyone else does too. Which isn’t the case. 

If you have any beliefs that are holding you back from going for things, whatever those things might be- make sure you challenge those beliefs. Ask yourself how true they are and what evidence is there to support them. Look back over your career or life history for examples of when you proved the opposite of the limiting belief to be true. 

5. Listening to your negative self talk and the inner critic

We all have that little voice inside our heads, but is that voice helping or hurting you? Is it motivating you or demotivating you and is it your inner critic or your cheerleader. 

When things take a downward spiral, it’s understandable for negative self talk to creep in. This has the effect of making you feel even worse which only exacerbates the situation. Something which won’t help your job search in 2021. 

So what is this inner critic and how do you silence it? Or at least change what it’s saying to something more positive? 

What is the inner critic?

According to an article in Positive Psychology the inner critic has been explained in different ways by a number of different theories. 

Firstly, there’s Sigmund Freud’s theory of the Superego. According to Freud’s theory, personality/ psyche  has more than one part. Id, Ego and Superego, which all develop at different stages of our lives. These are systems and not parts of the brain or physical.


This s the primitive and instinctual part of the mind – it responds to basic urges needs and desires. The id doesn’t care how you satisfy your desires or about anything external, like social norms or morals. It doesn’t change with time or experience. This is your unconscious mind.


The ego is the realistic part of the mind that mediates between he desires of the Id and the control of the superego. It’s the decision making part of the mind. The ego considers social realities and norms. It seeks pleasure, tension reduction, and pain reduction, just like the Id, but wants to find a realistic way to achieve it.


Your superego operates as  a moral conscious. It consists of two systems. The conscience and the ideal self ( an imaginary picture of how you wish to be). Any behaviour which falls short of the ideal self is punished by the superego through feelings of guilt and anxiety. The superego’s function is to control the id’s impulses, especially those that are socially forbidden. But what’s more, it also has the function of persuading the ego to turn to moralistic goals rather than simply realistic ones and pushes the ego to strive for perfection.

Id, Ego, Superego

Image from Simplepsychology.org

Freud explained that our superegos are formed when we internalize external views about ourselves, especially the views of our parents.

As you can see, if you have a highly active superego with extremely high standards, the chances are you’ll more than often feel that you’re falling short, leading to internal turmoil. 

Another view of the inner critic is a scientific rather than psychological one. Scientists have argued that the inner critic sits within the older, primitive part of the brain, and that it would previously have been required for survival, being involved in the construction of narratives about ourselves and others that are bearable.

Finally, in CBT ( Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), the inner critic is simply referred to as ANTs- automatic negative thoughts. And these automatic negative thoughts are driven by our underlying core beliefs. 

If you have deeply help negative core beliefs, your inner critic will then continuously broadcast them in your mind. 

So, how can you overcome these negative thoughts and this inner critic?

Here are 3 Ways you can deal with your negative inner critic  instead of letting it hold you back during your job search in 2021

Look for Evidence 

The CBT approach to dealing with the inner critic is to challenge it. This means looking for objective facts that oppose the negative messages of the inner critic ( A method which I highlighted earlier in the post for dealing with self limiting beliefs) 

So, whatever your inner critic is telling you- try to convince it that it’s wrong through logic and true facts. 

Accept & acknowledge 

In this video Jodi Atman explains how expecting and acknowledging your inner critic is an important first step to dealing with your negative self talk. 

Cancel the thought 

Another way to deal with the negative self talk is to stop it in its tracks. This involves watching out for when you start to think negatively and as soon as the thoughts pop into your head- you say cancel-cancel. Jack Canfield explains this and more about negative thinking in the video below: 


 If you’re searching for a job in 2021, be sure you don’t fall into one of these traps. Job searching can be stressful at the best of times so the current climate adds many more challenges. But, no matter what, remember:

  • Nothing lasts forever and you will find a new path eventually
  • Don’t beat yourself up and give yourself a hard time, it will only make the search more painful
  • Be sure to take a break from it and give yourself time to recharge and focus on other things.
  • Be flexible in your thinking and don’t think in absolutes
  • Now’s the time to consider things that you might never have considered before!

And finally, taking a course or changing paths might be the thing for you. If you’re thinking of learning something new check out these 10 Great Resources For Learning New Skills From Home