In this issue

  • Feature Article: How feeling that you're not good enough doesn't mean you're not in a job search
  • Reminder of the link for our 3 Feb job search workshop, Developing Momentum in Your Job Search

FEATURED ARTICLE: How I’m not good enough affects your job search and how to move past feelings of inadequacy and insecurity

A marketing client came to me for job search coaching – let’s call him Steve – and said “it’s ironic because I can market my company’s product just fine, but somehow I can’t sell myself in a job search”.

Intrigued I dug deeper, “What do you mean?”

“It’s that feeling of not being good enough for the role.”

Ahh, “What’s your evidence for that?” I asked. He replied “I’m not sure how to sell my strengths and I dismiss knowledge that I have” and then he concluded, “But in my last two interviews I was second. I was told I was a very strong candidate, but was just pipped the post.”

I can’t tell you how often I hear this. A client that has external evidence, hard evidence, that they are selling their skills and knowledge sufficiently, but their self-esteem takes a hit because they make the common but untrue assumption if they were good enough (as people, as professionals) they should have landed the job.

It’s frustrating and disappointing to not get a role, but as a coach working with people to land jobs that are truly rewarding for them, here are four (out of many) reasons why people don’t land the job that have nothing to do with their skills and experience for the role. Maybe they will resonate for you?

To do with the organisation:

  • There was an internal candidate that has been “acting up” and knowing the organisation from the inside, of course they would get the role. It’s lower risk to the company. It is also an unfortunate practice that some roles are advertised externally to tick a box, when it’s obvious who will be getting the job because they are performing well already in it.


  • The interviewers don’t know what they are looking for. They interview a bunch of candidates based on a job description (which often bears no relation to a real human being out there (remember Gwyneth Paltrow’s advert for a nanny who must be nautical, classical, multi-lingual and musical?)) in a vague way. The interviews get confused by who is offering what but actually they haven’t been clear about what that role is there to do for the organisation, and therefore the right kind of candidate. A candidate can put across their skills and experience sterlingly, but the organisation is too lost in detail and too confused to recognise the value of the candidate before them.

To do with the candidate, but not to do with skills and experience:

  • The candidate gets across relevant skills and experience, but forgets that people hire based on emotion and justify with logic. If the candidate has been too focused on “performing well” by preparing and offering answers speaking only to the competency bits of the interview, but overlook how they connected with the interviewers, how they built rapport and likeability, they won’t be hired. Of course an interviewer will never say outright “We liked the other candidate more” but if you are getting vague feedback it might be lack of rapport which is your weakness. Fortunately this can be learned with interview coaching and feedback.


  • The candidate may not be a fit culturally, in other words, the way they showed up in interview or the way they went about doing tasks was not in alignment with the culture of the company. For the candidate to not get the job offer is the right outcome here and it’s important that the goal of the candidate is not solely to “get the job” but to seriously consider the espoused values of the organisation and to notice the personalities and style of the team managing them. If they don’t align, it’s likely the candidate will be miserable in that job. An example of this is where a candidate whose values are around customer service show up authentically with a company whose only focus is financial KPIs and making money.  

So what does this mean if you’re like Steve and want to overcome your insecurities?

Step 1 – Eliminate the possibility that presentation of skills and knowledge is the true cause by working with a coach (or trusted friend or colleague) on what you do bring to the table and how that contributes to the business’ objectives. If you don’t know your strengths (and you will be asked), perhaps undertake a strengths assessment so that you are confident about what yours are and can articulate clearly how you use them when answering those competency based questions. But assuming you can articulate these “well enough” then

Step 2 – Stop comparing yourself to the other candidates. You have no clue (or control over) who they are. If someone genuinely has more experience than you, it is appropriate they get the role. However take heart that there is only one of you in the whole world. There is only one person with your exact upbringing, education, experiences both personal and professional. If you knew you were unique, how would your motivation and the way you approach your search change? For example, if you don’t have experience of that sector, for example, could that give you a fresh pair of eyes and help this organisation see their blind spots and solve their challenges which the organisation wasn’t aware they needed? Stand in your uniqueness, and when in interview show and be all of you. For interviewers that energy is really attractive and will build rapport, increase your likeability and your chances of success.

Step 3 – Trust in the Universe. I believe that in job search the Universe (or job market or whatever you want to call it) is not so cruel as to give you one chance and one chance only to find a wonderful and rewarding job for you. Many jobs are available. There are many jobs you could do. So if you didn’t get the role this time, there will be others. However, and this is a biggie. If you must put your hand up, metaphorically speaking, to tell employers you exist and of your value. If your feelings of insecurity and not being good enough means you’re looking at that job description thinking I can only do 70% of that job, I won’t apply because they’ll reject me, notice that it’s you rejecting you not the job market. You are taking yourself out of the game, and reinforcing your own thinking. Don’t do it. Bravery is hardly ever mentioned as an essential skill in job hunting but it is. Be brave, apply anyway. Get coaching or support if you need it, but get out there and give it all you’ve got. Fortune truly does favour the brave!


If you have enjoyed this article and are interested in getting additional support with preparing for a job search, CVs, interviews and all the rest, why not join us on Saturday 4th February for our twice-yearly workshop Developing Momentum in Your Job Search. Early bird rate expires tonight at 7pm.

We’d love to see you there.

Ros Toynbee

Tel: 020 7702 9299


Ros Toynbee
The Career Coach
Unit 20, The Circle
Great Elizabeth Street
London, SE1 2JE
United Kingdom