ma·laise (noun)a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify

Most of us have been on at least one side of the “search table,” either looking for great candidates to fill a role or being the one looking for a great role yourself. While often an exciting time filled with potential and anticipation for both the candidate and the hiring organization, these moments can also be the source of ire, angst, anxiety, and even dread.

We know that malaise can set in during the search process – we have been there ourselves!  The question becomes how to deal with these moments of uneasiness.

First, acknowledge that our expectations do not always meet our reality.  A job that looked great on the website may be a different opportunity than anticipated.  A candidate whose resume was perfect on paper might be ill-suited for the position. These moments of mismatch – while uncomfortable – don’t have to drag you down.

Next, remember that it’s important to keep track of who you are talking to and use that information to adjust accordingly. On the employer side, that can be an evaluation rubric used while reviewing applications and/or interviewing candidates.  If your rubric reveals themes among candidates, such as consistent gaps in experience, then there may be an issue with that part of the organization’s expectations.  An informed adjustment to responsibilities and qualifications may attract candidates better suited to the position.

On the applicant side, keeping track of where you’ve applied, who you’ve had informational calls with, and what is emerging from these conversations is crucial data to reflect upon. For example, is there a particular question you are being asked that you always find difficult to answer because you lack experience or qualifications?  Is there a type of organization that seems more interested in your candidacy than others?  Recognize these patterns and use that information to calibrate your search.

In addition, as an applicant, you should continually tap into your “sphere of influence” to check in with a trusted mentor, collect suggestions on new people to talk with and see if there might be prospective organizations you had not previously considered. Appreciate that those in the movement space often tackle some of society’s most urgent issues, which can impact timing and communication.  For employers, be transparent in your job descriptions.  If it’s not feasible for every applicant to hear back from you or if your hiring process will take four months, just say so upfront.  Doing so can ease discomfort on both sides.

Remember that even the most seasoned and accomplished folks suffer from malaise in this process. We know this because Movement Talent works with many of them daily, on both sides of the table! These searches are laborious, and you are not alone in what you are experiencing. Take care of yourself, and don’t underestimate the time it will take to find the right person or position. Employ self-care and engage in outside support if possible.  

Finally, for candidates and employers alike, take a moment to take stock of what you have accomplished in your search process.  As a recruiter, did you double the pool of talented applicants?  As a hiring manager, did you connect with applicants in a way that will want them to apply to your organization in the future? As a job seeker, have you learned more about yourself and what you want in a career through this process?  Celebrate those achievements!

Moments of malaise are inevitable in the search process, but with careful tracking, reflection, and calibration, you will have the tools to persevere.