Imagine your possibilities weren’t limited to what you currently thought you could do? What if your work opportunities could expand far beyond your perceived skills and talents? That’s adopting a growth mindset, and it can help you when looking for a job, perhaps even your dream job.
What is a growth mindset?
A growth mindset is a concept coined by Carol Dweck in 2006 in her best-selling book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Carol Dweck explains how our perception of ourselves and our abilities is the most limiting, or liberating, belief we can have.
A growth mindset can be described as when you believe you have the capacity to grow, take on challenges and use failures as a springboard into greater and grander things. With a growth mindset you don’t see things like talent and intelligence as inherent, but rather as something malleable that can grow and expand with experience and input.
What is a fixed mindset?
A fixed mindset believes that a person possesses a set of traits and characteristics that can’t change – they’re inherent, absolute, and a pre-determinant of our success. People with a fixed mindset tend to see things in a binary of success and failure, and interpret these as true reflections of their talents and abilities.
Examples of fixed and growth mindsets
I’m sure you’ve seen both of these ways of thinking in yourself and others over the years, especially in your places of work. And it’s not only individuals that possess growth or fixed mindsets. Organisations and teams can also take on a collective mindset that drives the way you work.
Instilling a culture of growth mindset into your place of work and surrounding yourself with these types of people can help push yourself and grow. This work culture fit is really important and is something you should also look for in your next role or hire.
When does a growth mindset start?
Growth mindset manifests in each of us from a young age – how you are taught to deal with success and failure in school is one factor that has a huge impact on mindset. How people talk about our intelligence and skills also impact our mindset. Perhaps you would have heard people say “That’s just not my strength”, or “I could never be XYZ, I just don’t have the brains.” These types of outlooks influence the way we see our own capacity for success, growth and learning. They limit us to what we believe is predetermined, or to the skills we learn early on.
To develop a growth mindset one must change these phrases to “That could be a strength of mine.” or “With the right approach and motivation, I could be XYZ .” And that brings us to our next point…
How can having a growth mindset help you when looking for a job?
A growth mindset is inherently about learning. A thirst to grow and expand our skills and talents. So let’s put this in the context of a job search. Perhaps you read a job post, and listed are skills you do not have, or you feel you are inadequate to perform the job. Someone with a fixed mindset would probably scroll on, leaving that position to another candidate who might be better suited for that job. Those with a growth mindset however would be curious about how to upskill themself to meet those expectations or be inspired to send an email to the recruiter or company.
Let’s look at an example now.
An example of a growth mindset in job applications
“Good Day hiring team.
I was excited to read your job post for the digital marketing coordinator opportunity. I noticed you are looking for someone highly skilled in SEO and Google Ads.
My expertise currently lies with Microsoft Ads, and I am less familiar with Google’s suite of tools. I would love to apply for the position and ensure I can offer you the skills needed for success.
Do you have a preferred Google Ads course that you would recommend I do prior to application? If not, I will complete the Google Digital Garage “Get started with Google Ads” course on the 4th of April, and submit my application to you following this.
If there is anything further I can do to strengthen my application please do let me know.
Looking forward to hearing from you and discussing this opportunity further.”
While there is always the chance that the recruiter may still turn you down, your enthusiasm to find solutions and pursue learning is likely to set you apart from the crowd.
Why a fixed mindset isn’t good for job seekers
Carol Dweck explains that people with a fixed mindset see risk and effort as a giveaway of their inadequacies, whereas those with a growth mindset see it as an opportunity for development not just for themselves, but all parties involved.
Job hunting can be scary and demoralising, which is why it’s so important to foster a growth mindset during the process. Some of the most rewarding opportunities can come from taking that risk, reaching out to your dream company and starting a conversation about a potential new relationship.
You may also want to consider new ways to approach job seeking and getting hired that are less traditional but could yield great results.
What to do when you are rejected from a job?
Even the most ambitious and optimistic of us will be faced with rejection during the job application process. That’s normal and natural. How we deal with that rejection is crucial, however.
Dweck also reminds us to use the word YET during any disappointments or in our example job rejections. Remind yourself that you are not ready for that position… yet. But with a growth mindset and the willingness to keep improving you will get the job that’s meant for you.
Taking on feedback after rejection is also a great way for us to grow and Dr Dweck has more for us to learn.
Fixed mindset vs growth mindset when receiving feedback
Carol Dweck ran a study wherein she analysed how people’s brains behaved when they answered difficult questions and received feedback. Those with a fixed mindset were only interested in hearing feedback that confirmed their current belief of their ability, whether positive or negative.
Information that could increase learning or change their understanding was tuned out. They even had no interest in hearing the right answer as they had already written that off as a failure. Those with growth mindsets were open to feedback and information that could further their learning. Qualitative feedback was more important than the binary of right or wrong.
Your mindset when engaging with job rejections
Feedback from job applications can be engaged with, in the same way. While disappointment over not landing that job can feel overwhelming, taking opportunities for feedback is crucial. While some hiring teams don’t offer in-depth feedback, especially to early-stage applicants, you can commit to learning something from every application.
Many companies however are taking the fantastic step towards more human-centric recruitment processes and giving applicants an opportunity to hear why they were not selected. This indicates a growth mindset on an organisational level!
So, a growth mindset is a powerful tool that can carry you through your application processes, onboarding and throughout your career as you strive for excellence.