The rocky path of the international job seeker



Photograph: Unsplash.com

Text: Aina Masood


A bumpy path filled with feelings of rejection and blows to one's self-esteem and also, victories and finding meaning.


As you can read in my bio, I am a psychotherapist and have started my own business in Denmark, called “R.A.I.N.”. Like most internationals, when I moved to Denmark, I left behind a career, lifestyle, and much more. I remember the moment I decided to reject my offer as a lecturer at an esteemed university in my country to come and be here with my husband. By then, I already had a taste of financial independence and work that brought me joy and meaning. I was confident in my abilities and did not think it would be challenging to make my way into the Danish job market. I was aware that it would be difficult initially, and I was ready for the challenges, but I was convinced that I will be able to land a job in the first 6 months.


Needless to say, things did not go as planned. As time went by, I started questioning my worth as a professional. With every rejection email, my self-confidence shattered a little more. The biggest hit to my identity came when I learned that I couldn’t call myself a psychologist until I had the license to practice in Denmark, and this can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.


"We are so much more than our jobs. Perhaps this is what we need to keep reminding ourselves of throughout the journey of job seeking."

Like many internationals, I was hesitant to go all-in because I did not know how long I would be in Denmark. At this point, I needed to learn to accept the uncertainty. All these hurdles pushed me to ask questions like, “Am I worthy only if I have a job?” / “Does my life have meaning only if I have a tangible salary to prove it?” / “Does my esteem depend only on a job title?” The answer to all these questions I was asking was no. We are so much more than our jobs. Perhaps this is what we need to keep reminding ourselves of throughout the journey of job seeking.


I have been through the painful process of reinventing myself, and I understand what some of you might be going through right now. Continual rejection is debilitating for self-esteem. It makes us feel trapped in a cycle of shame and self-blame, which might look like this:



During a job search, it is normal to tie your confidence to your job title. It is heartbreaking to receive rejection emails. It feels like constant blows to your self-esteem, and one might question their qualifications and skills. The thought of not being good enough feeds into the feelings of shame and self-blame, which in turn make you demotivated, uninspired, and hesitant to be proactive. There are ways you can break this cycle. It’s not easy, but if you are mindful of what triggers you and what you need to fill your cup with self-love, you can learn to deal with this.


Before Denmark, I knew myself only as a psychologist. Now, I am a writer, a psychotherapist, company owner, photographer, and so much more. I have found ways around this, and I am here to help you do the same.


1. Be mindful: Be aware of how you talk to yourself. Ask yourself if you would talk to a friend in the same way? If not, how would you help a friend if they were in your position and show yourself the same compassion?

2. Create a social network: Have a group of friends you can be authentic with and discuss your feelings. It could also be one person and not necessarily a group.

3. Learn to maintain boundaries: During job seeking, it is easy to have your personal, work, and social boundaries blurred. You might find yourself working all the time and not taking any breaks or rejuvenating yourself.

4. Structure and organise: To cater to the problem mentioned above, make sure to plan your weekdays. Don’t put off job search-related tasks until the weekend. Make plans for 9-16 work hours, and the rest of the time, work on yourself.

5. Incorporate healthy habits: Exercise, nurture a hobby, volunteer, do things that bring you joy.

6. Turn job seeking into a project: Name your job search - turn it into an adventure.

7. Remain in touch with nature and self-reflect: Remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Sit back and reflect on what you are doing right and what’s missing.

8. Look for ways to bring value and meaning into your life: Sometimes, it happens by bringing value and meaning into other peoples’ lives.


Remember: You are more than a job title. You are more than a label. You are more than your profession. You are more than the money you earn.

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