Approach Your Job Search With a Curious Beginner’s Mind

The Japanese Zen practice of shoshin translates as “beginner’s mind” – advocating an intellectually humble and curious approach to any situation. 

In shoshin, the more you think you know about a subject, the less receptive you are to new information about it. If you feel confident in your views on a topic, you are less likely to seek divergent perspectives.

In the context of your career, you will likely have some pretty fixed ideas about who you are and where you excel. When you get to the point of a job search, such self-confidence can offer direction, but if you are not careful, it can also close off avenues you had not even remotely considered.

If you approach your job search with a curious shoshin attitude, you permit yourself to interrogate your past from different viewpoints, decoupling your future potential from your long-held impressions about who you are and opening up the possibilities around who you might become. A playful “why not?” attitude about what might be transformative.

Rather than looking for examples that confirm your fixed views, seek out times when you acted differently. Looking at your experiences through a curious “what if” lens will help to broaden your understanding of what might have been. Sure, you might have been doing a specific thing for 90% of the time, but if you experienced intense fulfilment doing something else for the other 10%, then why now explore how your career might look if you did a bit more of that?

During an interview, a job seeker who adopts a curious and questioning mindset will also thrive. Rather than saying “I am this and that,” they present themselves as an adaptable and pensive individual who acts according to the situation rather than with a fixed mindset. Curiosity is not only a mental state – it is an emotion that pushes us to fill in the gaps. As every situation is different, solutions need to be pieced together rather than found.

Working with curious people in the team is professionally and personally rewarding. If an interviewer feels that a candidate is the sort of person to ask (relevant) questions of themselves and those around them, they will be someone to help the team develop. A shoshin mind is not required in every situation, but where puzzles are to be solved, it is the best place to start (for everyone concerned).

Curiosity is a perfect antidote to fear and anxiety in a job seeker’s mental health. You don’t know how the job search will turn out, but the possibilities will outweigh your worries if you approach every situation with an open mind. Any conversation could yield something extraordinary that could transform your situation. 

Looking deeper into your career and questioning what you want out of life is key to a productive job search. Keeping a shoshin mind will bring different opportunities your way – being open to such a growth mindset will be your next step to career contentment.