We are lucky enough to have another post from guest blogger Rachael Kobylecki in which she gives more advice for giving yourself the best chance of getting a job. Read on for some inspiration!

In the last instalment we explored why negative self-talk happens, what its purpose is and how it can show up for people in challenging circumstances such as the recruitment process; if you missed it then you can read it here. In this post, we’re going to delve deeper into the different ways this can mess with you, stop you from reaching your true potential, and make it harder to secure your dream job.  

To do this, it helps if you can become more aware of and spot patterns in your behaviour in other walks of life beyond job hunting and interviews. Consider perhaps how you behave at work or maybe even at home. Some of the same characteristics are likely show up in both parts of your life, this is a great indicator that they are ingrained and automatic habits that are driven by negative self-talk. 


Do you put off difficult tasks? 

If you find yourself putting off challenging tasks that you don’t feel confident with or avoiding conversations that may result in someone becoming upset or angry, then you may already be familiar with the concept of procrastination. This often comes about because of a desire to avoid unpleasant experiences. This urge to avoid is driven by your limbic brain’s need to keep you safe but in reality, these tasks and conversations are unlikely to cause you real physical or psychological harm; they will merely be uncomfortable for a while. The impact of listening to these internal messages is staying small rather than safe. 

The feelings you’re trying to avoid might be emotions such as anxiety, fear of failure or rejection which could come about through feeling like you aren’t capable of doing a task, worrying that it won’t be done well enough (procrastination and perfectionism are often found together!) or believing that the other person or people on the receiving end of your work will think it’s not good enough, therefore that you aren’t good enough and therefore may reject you and your efforts altogether. 

The impact of avoidance on your recruitment 

The obvious impact of this urge to avoid unpleasant challenges is that you may put off applying for jobs in the first place in an attempt to dodge any potential rejection or failure, especially if it’s a job you really want. If this is the case then perhaps you’ve been looking tentatively from the side-lines for quite some time, never really committing to putting in an application even though deep down you know you really want to. That was certainly the case for me when I first started looking for international jobs!  

If you’ve overcome this initial urge to avoid the process altogether or you didn’t experience it in the first place then, perhaps for you, it has kicked in later down the line. In this instance, it could manifest in putting off working on vital documents such as job application forms, your CV or cover letter. This urge to avoid any possibility of looking foolish, experiencing rejection or failure can actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy as you leave yourself with little time to complete the documents well and therefore increase the likelihood of them not being done to the best of your ability.  

If this feels all too familiar to you then that means you’re starting to spot unhelpful patterns and behaviours! Once you’ve spotted them, you can take action to quieten the negative self-talk and change your behaviour. It also means that you have some fantastic strengths that you can celebrate with potential future employers.  

Let’s celebrate your strengths!  

People with a tendency to avoid difficult or unpleasant experiences are generally pretty flexible and adaptable; a great strength for someone planning to move school and country. They usually have an easy-going manner and are generally positive in the face of adversity and consistent in the way they behave towards others. These are also positive qualities that would benefit any school, particularly during that all important settling in phase where bumps in the road can seem bigger than they perhaps are.  

Top tips to gain control of your invisible avoider 

Do you have a long to do list, featuring all the tasks you need to complete in order to apply for your dream job? Are the tasks in any type of order besides when you realised you needed to do them? If so, then why not try writing a ‘Procrastination List’.  This list is to help you prioritise not only the timing of each task but also how important each one is. Once you have the list of everything that you need to do to apply for the job or prepare for the interview, then put them in order of importance – each day decide which task you are prepared to undertake and work your way through them.  

If your inner perfectionist voice is starting to get louder right now, keep reading!  


Do you love order, organisation and having everything just right? 

Do you strive for perfection and order in everything you do? Do you also look for this in others or circumstances? If this resonates with you and you know you have a perfectionist streak then this could be getting in your way during the recruitment process.  

In the previous section, we saw how procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand. “If I can’t do it perfectly then I just shouldn’t bother” might be the message going round in your mind. As we saw, the desire to complete a task perfectly or present flawlessly in an interview can result in avoiding the necessary tasks to ensure a good job and create a self-fulfilling prophecy due to the lack of time spent on the preparation.  

The impact of perfectionism on recruitment 

This desire for perfection can also impact your behaviour in an unhelpful way if you’re only looking for the ‘perfect’ role, school or country. When your inner perfectionist is in charge (brought about by a potentially challenging situation such as a job application or interview) roles, schools or countries will never live up to your unattainable idea of perfection as the bar keeps being raised. When you do eventually find something that you want to apply for, your desire for the documents to be perfect may mean you spend a huge amount of time and energy on organising and perfecting them, potentially to the detriment of the content. It can be a pretty vicious circle!  

People with a loud inner-perfectionist can also be highly sensitive to criticism so you may find it hard to take any possible rejection or constructive feedback after an interview. This will fuel your inner-judge voice (who we met in the first instalment of this blog) in an “I told you so” manner; reinforcing the message that if you can’t be perfect then it’s best not to bother at all, which may lead you to give up early on in the process. 

Let’s celebrate your strengths! 

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for those of you with a loud inner-perfectionist voice! You have some amazing strengths that schools would be lucky to have. Your need for order and desire for high standards in yourself and others is a great strength to drive quality and consistency across a school; as is your ability to bring structure and develop systems and processes.  You are self-disciplined and know the kind of teacher or leader you want to be; this positive quality helps you to lead others in the same way. 

Top tips to quieten your inner perfectionist 

In the previous section, we looked at using lists in a more focused way to give those prone to procrastination a way of prioritising tasks in order of importance. A similar way of working can be applied to calm your inner-perfectionist.  

Instead of just writing one ‘to do’ list, try creating two lists with all the tasks you need to complete for the application process or interview. List A is for the 20% of things that need to be of the highest quality, such as your cover letter or CV. List B is for the 80% of things that can be ‘good enough’ which might include less vital things such as writing to your current employer asking for a reference.  Creating these two lists will save your time and energy and enable you to focus on the important items in List A, rather than getting bogged down by the less important items on List B.  

You’re in control 

These negative internal messages are part of being human and everybody experiences them – you are not alone! Now, however, you have the superpower of self-awareness and can use that to spot when your inner procrastinator or perfectionist are at work, stopping you from taking the amazing action that you are capable of. Being armed with this knowledge will get you one step closer to finding your dream job!  

Keep an eye out for the third and final blog post later in the year to find out the other ways your mind might be messing with you during the job application process, or in the meantime, you can find out more by reading ‘Positive Intelligence’ by Shirzad Chamine. 

About me


Hi, I’m Rachael Kobylecki. Having been a teacher and school leader in the UK and in international schools for 15 years, I understand how challenging it can be to move schools, countries or to move up in leadership. Now, I help school leaders quieten their negative self-talk so that they can become laser-focused on what they really want and turn their ideas into action. By developing your self-awareness and working out how you’re holding yourself back, the journey towards your dream job can become a lot smoother!

Contact details linktr.ee/RachaelKobylecki 

photo of author
Written by Camilla Cook
Camilla has been working in education for the past sixteen years, teaching English in the UK, El Salvador, Thailand, and Tanzania. She participated in the Teach First Programme in 2005, and went on to support another Teach First teacher in her efforts to set up The Literacy Pirates, an education charity working to develop the literacy, confidence, and perseverance of young people referred for extra support by their teachers. As their first Director of Learning, she was responsible for planning, leading, and evaluating the learning programmes. She has worked as the Head of Language and Literature in international schools for the past five years, and is now living in Brighton with her husband and two children, attempting to reacclimatise to the weather by cycling around as much as possible and eating lots of ice cream.
Explore. Connect. Share.
We're the world's leading community of international teachers. More than just a job search, Teacher Horizons is your online home, wherever your journey takes you.