Self-handicapping in practice

Big part of our job is to motivate job seekers to do what they should be doing, to make sure they stay focused on the important and to finish what they have started which usually is a desired career change.

But who are the people behind hundreds of successful job changes of experienced managers and (senior) executives across Europe? What motivates us?

This post introduces Anna, one of our team members, through a mini-interview of 5 questions. One of them discussing tips on self-handicapping.

Anna, why have you become a Career Angel?

I started my career as a headhunter in Hudson. After 5 years I joined the client side in different roles: Senior HR Specialist, HR Manager, HR Project Director. While being “on the other side” I noticed that I missed a certain aspect of my headhunter days: contact with managers from a variety of industries. While I myself was in-between jobs, Sandra called me to ask whether I was interested in helping out with a major career consulting project – now that I had more time on my hands. And I liked it. I liked the fact that I could combine my passion for coaching, working with senior managers with my previous recruiter know-how. I was a full time Career Angel for the first 9 months, then switched into part-time/project mode on top of my full time job as an HR Project Director. Mid 2016 I quit and joined Career Angels again full time. It’s now been 6 years of cooperating.

After 6 years – why are you still a Career Angel?

Being a Career Angel gives me a sense of accomplishment and professional satisfaction. The clients give me energy and at the same time I develop thanks to them sharing their experience and challenges. I also have the opportunity to practice my coaching skills and work in an international environment.

What career challenges have you faced in your own career?

My biggest challenge to date was learning to become an effective HR Manager in a state-owned company. How do you motivate somebody who has several – too many – reporting lines? Who has never had goals to achieve? Who is focused on making it through the day rather than working in a proactive manner? How do you motivate somebody who does not seem to want to be motivated? This has been my biggest challenge. Finding out why and how certain mechanisms work; and ultimately sourcing and implementing new solutions that resulted in the employees achieving results and working more effectively.

Please share a client story that you found particularly insightful.

There was one particular client in my first year as a Career Angel. He was looking for a job. It seems that he had all the required tools: CV, cover emails, email addresses to decision makers, contact details to headhunters and crystal clear instructions on what to do and how to do it and when to do it. Everything looked good, but the response rate was low and my client frustrated. He stopped believing in making an effort and following all steps. I asked him to come to the office to review the progress. It turned out that he had

  • not contacted all of the companies that had been sourced and researched
  • not followed up with everything within 10 days
  • not been consistent in handling replies

Right there and then we went through every single company and contact person and made sure he was updated on all action points. We sent out all missing first emails, follow ups and thank you notes. We were caught up after 2 hours which immediately (!) – while still sitting in our office – generated several interview invitations.

A lot of clients apply self-handicapping, a psychological phenomenon explained in detail here. That client showed me how important it is to help our clients break through that mental barrier.

If there’s one thing that you could tell managers and executives when it comes to managing their careers, what would that be?

Not surprisingly, my advice concerns self-handicapping. If you can’t get out of it on your own, get help. A friend. Your partner / spouse. Manage your emotions and make a realistic plan and stick to it. Even if it’s mini steps.

Do you need help with self-handicapping? Are you an experienced manager? Would you like to confidentially discuss it with Anna? Email her at Anna.Zadrozna (at) or click here.