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Top 10 Ways to Overcome Application Hesitation

Published on: Nov 28, 2022

Perhaps this has happened to you: You go onto the AAN Neurology Career Center job board and start perusing the postings. Before long, you’ve identified a position that sounds pretty good. You read the information with growing interest, your cursor hovering over “Apply Now”…and hovering…and hovering. And then you move on to another position, or perhaps you leave the site.

What just happened? The diagnosis is simple: You’re suffering from Application Hesitation. Despite your best intentions, you’re stopping yourself from completing a few short steps that could lead to an interesting new job.

So that explains what’s happening, but not why. Here are some of the reasons people hesitate to apply for jobs, even when they’re very interested. If you see any that describe your situation, the prescription provided will help you overcome the barrier.

10 reasons for Application Hesitation, and the prescribed antidotes

1. Fearing that clicking Apply will open the floodgates. You may have had the experience of answering an online ad and suddenly finding your inbox filling up with unwanted solicitations. That’s a reasonable fear with other job boards, but the Academy sees you as a valued member, not a product to sell to advertisers, so your information is kept confidential.

Antidote: Click Apply. You’re not likely to receive unwanted email from employers you contact on the Career Center’s job board but if you do, just opt out.

2. Fearing that applying could initiate a process you don’t have time for. It’s one thing to complete a brief application process, but another to fit conversations and meetings into your schedule. You might be concerned that applying will obligate you to steps you can’t commit to right now.

Antidote: If your application results in contact from a recruiter or employer, simply explain your schedule conflicts in a brief response. In most cases, they’ll be able to work with you to fit your calendar.

3. Unprepared for the interview process. Scheduling interviews may not be your concern so much as actually participating in them. It may have been awhile since you’ve interviewed for employment as opposed to matching for a training program. Indeed, perhaps you’ve never done that as a neurologist, at least not yet.

Antidote: You’re going to have to cross this bridge sometime, so why not now? Go ahead and apply, then get busy. You’ll find helpful articles in the Neurology Career Center to help you prep for interviews.

4. Not feeling certain the job will be a good fit. This is one of those closed-loop problems. Without more information, you don’t know if this job would be right for you—but because you don’t know, you hesitate to apply, which is how you would get more information.

Antidote: Apply. Determining fit is something that happens during conversations with the recruiter or employer, which is what happens after they receive your application.

5. Not feeling clear on your overall career direction. Of course, you know you’ll be working as a neurologist, but you may be feeling less clarity about practicing in a subspecialty, or what balance you want between research and teaching, or any number of other issues relating to your career path. This can lead to a kind of window-shopping process where you review postings in the hopes of finding that clarity, without ever moving forward.

Antidote: Go ahead and take a spin through the postings without clicking apply. Then collect your favorites and apply to the two that appeal to you most. Just starting the conversations with recruiters may be enough to help sort through your priorities, but if it isn’t, you can repeat the exercise. Eventually you will have enough information to make good comparisons between different options.

6. Not feeling certain you’re qualified for the job. Some job postings are very detailed while others leave a lot to the imagination. In both cases, it’s easy for a candidate to feel intimidated and uncertain about being qualified.

Antidote: Deciding whether you’re qualified is actually not your job―it’s the job of the recruiter or employer. When you feel interested but uncertain, go ahead and apply. Even if you’re not qualified, you may receive information about other positions for which your skills are a better match.

7. Not wanting to waste anyone’s time. This is a cousin to the issue of feeling unqualified or uncertain about what the position requires. You hate to start something just to have it fizzle out when you could have saved everyone the trouble to begin with.

Antidote: Again, let the recruiters make that determination; it’s their job. If you asked them, they would almost certainly tell you they’d rather spend the time with you than not, even if the situation doesn’t end with a match.

8. Finding something that’s “off” in the posting. Perhaps you’re not certain about the location, or you’d prefer a different mix of duties, or you’re concerned the salary won’t work.

Antidote: This is a case where you can assume too much. As in, assuming you understand the position from such a short description, or assuming nothing about the position can be changed. Applying will give you entrée to the conversations that will give you the facts you need.

9. Not feeling certain about building a career with this employer. How do you know this hospital or practice is well-managed, or that you’ll be treated well by them? How can you be sure they’re growing, or will help you manage your career well?

Antidote: In truth, you might never feel complete certainty about a potential employer before you sign on. Instead of setting certainty as a goal, vow to do your due diligence before accepting an offer by talking with others or researching web sites for reviews by other employees. In the meantime, go ahead and apply, or the question will be moot.

10. Not feeling ready to commit to an offer. You may be checking the postings a few months or even years early, in terms of when your training will be finished. Or, you may be right on time, but still feeling hesitant about starting this next chapter in your career.

Antidote: Ask any recruiter and they’re likely to tell you they’d rather hear from you early than not at all. Go ahead and apply so you can start the conversation about this role or employer. If you’re ahead of schedule, you can say so and let the recruiter decide whether to keep moving forward. You may be surprised to learn that some opportunities can be locked in a long time in advance, and sometimes include a signing bonus or other financial incentive. But no worries—if you’re not ready to make that commitment, you only need to say so.

So…should you apply?

Yes! You really should. Your reasons for hesitating are valid, but also permeable. That is, although each of these 10 reasons makes sense, none of them preclude you from contacting the employer or recruiter. By clicking to apply, you begin a conversation and a relationship that could lead to the best job of your career. And even if it doesn’t, you’ll be more connected and informed than if you had sat on the sidelines. So, go ahead: Stop hovering your cursor and Apply Now.