The Three Things You Need to Know About Self-SabotagThe Three Things You Need to Know About Self-Sabotage & Your Job Searche & Your Job Search

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

When I coach job hunters, I often hear them talk about how they are starting to think that they are almost engaged in a mission to sabotage their own job search. One person said to me recently, “I know I am not actively engaged in self-sabotage but I sure am passively engaged in it! I keep doing thing where I am shooting myself in the foot.” He then went on to to the usual laments about recruiters, the job market and applicant tracking systems that give him an excuse for his failures. It is sad to listen to very smart people place blame in the wrong places and frustrate themselves to no end.

Self-sabotage is thought of as a psychological issue when, in fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s what I see are three major instances of what people diagnose  as engaged in “self-sabotage.” and what can be done about it .

  1. Wrong answers at job interviews. These can include the classic cases of “freezing” or  not delivering what you know and who you are at your best. How did this become an example of a psychological problem? What causes you to answer questions incorrectly or “freeze” is that you have not practiced enough to develop “muscle memory” so that you execute at an elite level.  Great athletes, both professional and amateur practice relentlessly in order to deliver at an elite level on game day. For mostThe Three Things You Need to Know About Self-Sabotage & Your Job Search of you, the next time you practice or even think through situations you might face on a job interview will be the first or second time.  Contrast that with what athletes, entertainers, even politicians do before a big game, performance or speech. Do you really think that is the first time LeBron made that move? Of course, not. Yet you go on interviews and think you can execute by accident when you have done nothing (or next to nothing) to prepare to perform at a championship level.
  2. You are set up for failure. My son is 16 and works at a fast casual restaurant. When he left work recently, he was so angry and upset by his work day, he was in tears. His usual 10 person weekend shift was only staffed with 4 people. He was overwhelmed and made mistakes. Heard criticism and, because they were understaffed, didn’t have an adequate break to eat dinner, worked until 11 PM and cracked under the pressure. Was that his fault or did management put him in a “no win” situation. Trust me, there are times you will interview and you cannot win. Maybe someone has already been decided on because they arrive with a referral from a sponsor. Maybe, they have really decided on the winner and are going through the motions. Maybe, no one likes the recruiter and they will never hire someone from that firm but are forced to use them for political reasons. Is that your fault?
  3. The Three Things You Need to Know About Self-Sabotage & Your Job Search3. The hiring manager and his/her team is not clear about what they want or even how they will evaluate for it. This one frustrates everyone involved and leaves job hunters beside themselves. When I worked in search, time and again, I would debrief hiring managers who would reject candidates for minutiae that their staff asked about that was irrelevant to exceptional job performance. How did become self-sabotage? What it is is another example of employer disorganization masquerading as interviewing.

Self-sabotage is being your own worst enemy. You create causes and conditions where you create the reasons why you are “doomed to fail.” These behaviors do not indicate you are sabotaging yourself. It is the “loop” in your mind that runs you around and around that is the real  self-sabotage, deceiving you into thinking that you are at fault for the longer that you wished for job search. 

An old  teacher once spoke with a student who has being criticized to certain things by her peers. After listening for a while, the teacher told her. “If criticism is correct, change. If it isn’t forget it.”

You have been criticizing yourself for a long time. Now, you know what to do.

© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC  2017       

If you liked this article, also read, ” Paying Attention to the Signals During Your Job Search.”



JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2200 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a discovery call at my website,

Learn to interview like a pro. “The Ultimate Job Interview Framework” Kindle and print versions are available on Amazon.

Classes On Skillshare

Become a freelancer or hire one on I use it and I may wind up hiring you! To set up your freelance business correctly, you may want to incorporate

Join Career Angles on Facebook and receive support, ideas, and advice in your current career and job.

Connect with me on LinkedIn Mention you listen to the podcast or watch my YouTube channel.

Job Search Going Nowhere? “Diagnosing Your Job Search Problems” for Kindle on Amazon and receive free Kindle versions of “No BS Resume Advice” and “Interview Preparation.”No BS Job Search Advice

If you are starting your search, order, “Get Ready for the Job Jungle” on Amazon

Watch my videos on YouTube at, the Job Search TV app for Roku, fireTV or a firestick or for Apple TV, and 90+ smart tv’s.

Since 2007, FlexJobs has been the #1 site for work at home opportunities

Thinking of making a career change and need some ideas that fit you. CareerFitter offers a free test and if you want more you can upgrade for the paid version.

We grant permission for this post and others to be used on your website as long as a backlink is included and notice is provided that it is provided by Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter as an author or creator.

About the author

Leave a Comment, Thought, Opinion. Speak like you're speaking with someone you love.

%d bloggers like this: