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“Cognitive distortions are irrational thoughts and beliefs that we unknowingly reinforce over time.  These are thoughts that cause individuals to perceive reality inaccurately”. (Aaron Beck and David Burns).  While cognitive distortions can be common, they have the potential to create problems and negatively impact your career.  They can trigger disappointment and frustration, encourage you to set unrealistic expectations and interfere with your motivation. 

 

During stressful times such as preparing for an interview, cognitive distortions and automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) can become even more prominent.  The internal voice can turn critical and it can become a pessimistic monologue stuck on repeat saying things like: “You’ll never get that job” or “You should stop trying”.   

 

There are at least 10 common distorted thinking patterns that have been identified by researchers and  I have outlined 4 of these Cognitive Distortions below.

 

Cognitive Distortions

1.Polarised Thinking

This is sometimes called all-or-nothing, or black and white thinking.  This distortion occurs when people habitually think in extremes, rather than finding a more realistic middle ground.  This way of thinking makes someone evaluate themselves in contrasts; an absolute winner or a total failure.  If things are going well in work, they are on top of the world, whereas, in contrast, if they are unsure of how to overcome a challenge, they will feel like a failure.  Another sign of polarised thinking is failing to recognise your potential to grow.  You might believe you are bad at something, but you forget about your ability to learn new things and grow. This can be harmful if you start a new job or get a new promotion, as there will always be a period of growth and learning so beware of any polarised thinking that might creep in. 

Some questions to consider:

  1. Am I thinking in all-or-nothing terms?
  2. What new skills can I learn?
  3. What is a more realistic view of this situation?

 

2.Jumping to Conclusions

This is where you interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion.  There are two types of this distortion, both of which occur when one judges a situation or person without knowing all the details. 

 

  • Mind reading: You assume that people are reacting negatively to you when there’s no definite evidence for this. This distortion rears its ugly head if an error was made in work and instead of thinking about it logically, thoughts such as “my colleagues are going to think I am bad at my job now or my manager could fire me”. The mind goes into overdrive with negative mind reading thoughts.

 

  • Fortune-telling: You predict that things will turn out badly before the event. Some people will avoid even trying and instead they will tell themselves “I didn’t go for the interview because I wouldn’t have got it anyway”. This distortion holds so many professionals back from reaching their full career potential.  They don’t feel ready or prepared yet to apply for the promotion or change jobs, so they stay in the exact same position for years. 

Some questions to reflect on:

  1. Do I really know this to be true?
  2. Am I confusing a thought with a fact?
  3. What alternatives are there?

 

3.Personalisation

This cognitive distortion occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under your control e.g. “I am the one to blame for his work being done incorrectly”. Personalisation leads to guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy.  In a work environment it is important to not to place unnecessary blame on yourself for the actions and responsibilities of others.  New managers and leaders have a tendency to fall victim of this cognitive distortion and it is one to be aware of if you are looking to move into a people management position. 

 

Some questions to help you avoid personalisation: 

  1. What was the learning from this situation?
  2. What will I do differently the next time?

 

4.Should Statements

This distortion imposes rigid rules on yourself and others.  You criticise yourself and other people with should statements such as “I should do well.  If I don’t then I am a failure.  I expect everyone to work as hard as I do”. You interpret events in terms of how things should be rather than simply focusing on what is.  In a work environment should statements that are directed against yourself lead to guilt and frustration. Should statements that are directed against other people lead to anger and frustration.  Everyone wants to work in a supportive team environment so dropping the should is a great way to achieving that goal.

 

If you see yourself falling into this thinking error, ask yourself:

  1. What rigid rule have I created?
  2. How can I see this differently?

 

Hopefully this article has helped you to identify what cognitive distortions are.  Please share this article with anyone you feel might benefit from it.

 

Creating a CV that highlights your skills and experience effectively is the first step you need to take when looking for a new job.  The purpose of any CV is to get you invited for an interview.  If you have submitted your CV to lots of jobs (that you have the experience for), but you have not been invited for interview, your CV is the issue and it needs some work. 

 

Your CV has roughly 12 seconds to make a positive impression.  It is important that the layout and content of your CV is easy to read and understand within a short timeframe.   In this article, I will outline some simple tips on how to create a CV that makes a positive impact.  

 

Tips to create a CV that makes an impact  

CV Layout

Regardless of the amount of experience that you have gained over the past number of years, your CV should be a maximum of 2 pages long.  Any CV that is longer than 2 pages will reduce your chances of your CV doing its job i.e. getting you invited for interviews.  It is quality over quantity when it comes to CV writing.  When you are writing your CV, consider if the information will increase or decrease the chances of your CV doing its job?

 

Professional Photograph

There is no need to include a professional photograph on your CV if you are applying for jobs in Ireland.  Including a professional photograph does not add value to your CV and it takes up valuable space.  However, the requirements are slightly different if you are applying for jobs in a European Country so include a professional photograph on those applications. 

 

Reverse Chronological Order

The content of your CV should be presented in reverse chronological order, starting with the current and most recent work experience and working backwards.  Presenting your CV content in this format highlights your career growth and development, it emphasises the most recent jobs that you held and it is easy for the reader to understand if and when there were any career gaps.  In relation to the education content, you have a choice to either highlight this information in reverse chronological order or you can highlight the most relevant education for the job you are applying for first.  It is a personal preference but both options are accepted.

 

Relevant to the Job

One of the biggest mistakes jobseekers make when they are applying for jobs is that they submit a generic CV to lots of jobs.  This is a recipe for failure.  In order to avoid this error, spend time updating your CV for the job that you would like to apply for.  This will take time but it is time well spent, as this will increase your chances of being invited for interview.  It is much better to apply for less jobs and to spend the time updating your CV for those jobs, than to send a generic CV to lots of jobs.

 

Grammar and Spelling  

Once you have created a CV that is relevant for the job you want to apply for, check your grammar and spelling before you submit your CV for any job application.  It is easy to oversee these errors when you are creating a CV, but it will be the first thing the reader will spot immediately.  Perhaps even get a family member or friend to double check your CV for these errors. 

 

Once you have been invited for an interview, your CV has done its job.  It will then be up to you, to sell your skills and experience effectively during the interview in order to get a job offer. 

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you have gained some tips on how to create a CV that makes a positive impact.  Please share this article with anyone who might benefit from it. 

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