The Curse of Over-Analyzing in Job Searching and Reading Parables

not listeningMy poor mother.  She tries, she really does.  This afternoon she sent me this lovely parable about wealth, success and love. 

In short, a woman came out of her home to find three old men with long white beards sitting on her front lawn.  She invited them in, thinking they might be hungry, but they declined because the man of the house was not home. 

When the husband came home, she invited them in again.  They said only one could come in at a time, for they were Wealth, Success and Love so the woman and her husband were to decide which one to invite in.  The husband wanted to invite Wealth, the wife Success but the daughter –in-law suggested Love; they decided on Love.

When the woman invited Love in, the other two stood and began to follow.  She asked why, when they said that only one could come in at a time.  They explained that Wealth and Success go independently; but, wherever Love goes, Wealth and Success go too.

It was a lovely parable.  If I were able to leave it at that, but I can’t and did not. 

I emailed her back and told her that if I found three old men sitting in my front lawn I don’t think my first reaction would be to invite them in to dinner, I think I would have a much different reaction.  I then questioned why they could not come in without a man in the house.  Does that mean that wealth, success and love are not able to come in my house because there is no man of the house?  I have to have a man before I can receive these blessings?  If that is the case, I told her, I’m screwed. 

My poor mother. She tried to share a nice little parable, but the curse of having an over-analytical daughter ruined that one.

I am a very analytical person, it is a blessing and a curse.  There is also a sense of irony to it.  When working with my clients it is the analytical side of me that is able to really dig deep and create great branding strategies. The curse is when I can tie myself up for half an hour on one word.  One. Singe. Word.

The irony comes in when I have to tell my clients to stop over-analyzing things.  This happens a lot.

Last week, I had a client receive feedback about an ongoing interview process.  He was told, via email, that second interviews would be set as phone calls for the end of the week.

He forwarded me the email and asked me what I thought.  Bless my clients, they know I have a unique sense of humor, and I replied that it sounded to me like phone calls would be set up for the end of the week.  He asked.  He also has a similar sense of humor so I was not being snarky.

He then asked if I thought it sounded good for him.  This is when I told him to relax.  Re-read the email.  Nowhere did I see the words, “Thanks but no thanks” or “we have decided to go in a different direction.”  Relax.

The next day his phone interview was set up.

In job searching we tend to overanalyze everything.  It is a lot like dating. 

Do you think they liked me, they haven’t called/texted, when do you think I will hear from them, do you think they had a good time, do they want to see me again, did I say something wrong, wonder if they hate me since I haven’t heard, I should have done this differently, or that, or…..

It is a terrible, vicious cycle.

Step off the cycle and relax.

We get more high-strung and analytical because we are completely vested in it.  Maybe it has been a while since you have had an interview or even a nibble on your resume.  When you do get that nibble, you go into overdrive. 


I know, easier said than done. 

Try looking at it this way, before and after the process.  There are two outcomes:

You secure a new position or

You gained experience that will help you secure the right position

With every opportunity, there are these two possible outcomes: success or learning. 

Some of the things you can learn during the job search, interviewing and networking:

  • How to clarify your brand/message
  • How to better describe your value
  • How to re-evaluate your past experiences to discover more targeted examples for behavioral interview questions
  • How to run (a job you really do not want or a life-sucking network encounter)
  • How to decline a position with grace and keep the door open
  • That you are not right for every position
  • That you do not want just any position
  • That you are an active participant in the interviewing process, you should interview them, too
  • That what you are saying does not match what they are hearing

If you go into over-analysis mode, you will naturally go into defense mode.  Meaning, you will take each above lesson and turn it around as though you did something wrong.  Not necessarily true, it could be a matter of a simple tweak.  The whole package is not wrong, just maybe the bow.

If you find there is a lot of time in between activities, recognize when you start down the over-analysis path and stop.  Shift your thoughts to taking action.  Continue to pursue other opportunities, follow up, re-evaluate your positives, network, get out, take a break and most importantly – try to find positive, joy or fun in what you are doing.

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

If he got stuck in the over-analysis mode, he might not have gone on to attempt number two, or three, or four….


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


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