9 Lives for Women Blog

Conquer Your Return to Work Fears | January 26th, 2013

When women tell me they’re having a hard time deciding whether to go back to work (and they tell me the same thing a year later and then a year after that), I know that the underlying reason is often fear. It’s fear of putting yourself out there after so many years, fear of being rejected, fear of the process, fear of the current job market, fear of what you could command in dollars after many years out, fear of losing flexibility—and generally fear of feeling fear.

There’s no shame in fear, but letting it fester means a lot of indecision and inactivity. Too often we fear all the negatives and ignore all the possible  positives—as Dawn Rasmussen aptly points out in the following 9 Lives guest post.

Dawn is a Certified Advanced Resume Writer and the president of Portland, Oregon-based Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. She writes as a jobs expert for the “Career Oxygen” feature on Talentzoo.com, a job resource site for creative and marketing professionals. Here is her article, “Getting Past Job Search Fears”, which could help you move toward a job you actually need or want.


“There is nothing to fear but fear itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Establishing yourself in the workplace or beginning the hunt for a new job is probably one of the scariest things you can ever do. Most people express a great deal of fear when faced with new opportunities.

But it can also be one of the most powerful and rewarding experiences. We grow the most when we overcome things that we fear, and can learn new things about ourselves that can add dimension and depth to our character as well as our understanding of the world.

Someone once told me that change is the most terrifying when we actually desire or need it the most. This, in turn, can make us feel like we are standing on the edge of a precipice; uncertain as to whether we can make that leap of faith or not.

Understanding the building blocks of your career management strategy will help you become a smarter and wiser job seeker, and ultimately help you overcome the very fears that could be holding you back.

Fear is real. And what we are really scared of is the failure of our actions. Life’s lessons will tell you that there never is a guarantee for success in any decision you make. It always comes down to a series of calculated risks and educated guesses…nothing more and nothing less. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. It’s the risk we take, and the fear comes from the uncertainty from the lack of any kind of guarantee.

Being conscious of your value in the workplace and responding to opportunities that come along can help you conquer most of those job search fears.


If you’ve been out of the workforce for many years, you may not, as Dawn suggests, know your potential value in the workplace. The only way to find out is to gather your strength to venture out and talk to as many people you can about the kind of work you might want to do. Simple conversations with friends, acquaintances and networking contacts will give you great information and direction. Being informed–rather than fearing the unknown–breeds confidence and action. —KAS


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