In a world where so much is out of your control, it is easy to feel powerless — especially when it comes to the stressful experience of searching for a job. Drawing from Stephen Covey’s ‘Circle of Control’ model for proactivity, find out how you can tap into your power and influence to gain control in the job hunting process.

Photo by Alexandra Fuller on Unsplash

Searching for a job in and of itself is not an easy task. For such a process that involves competition, other decision makers and industry forces beyond your reach, it is important that you direct your efforts towards what you do have control over.

The Circle of Control is a model that was created by Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In the first chapter, he talks about how proactive people are those who make use of their circle of influence; they recognise what is within their control and act on it. This initial concept has been further adapted to include one more circle.

Diagram of the circle of influence and circle of control
Photo by Alexandra Fuller on Unsplash

Your Circle of Control

What can you do today that will prepare you for the job you want?

The truth is you have more power than you think.

It may not feel like it, but there are many things within your circle of control. This is all the stuff that you have power over, the things that you can directly change. You may think that there is very little you can control; the thing is, what you do have control over is often what makes the difference. Think about it; you can control:

  • The thoughts you dwell on
  • What you say
  • Your attitude
  • Your choices
  • Your actions and behaviour
  • How you spend your time
  • What you choose to learn

Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

What you think about yourself, others and the world around you will determine what you attempt. Your life is guided by the thoughts you dwell on. Your attitude and character set you apart from others. The choices that you make shape where your life ends up. So the truth is, you have more power than you think. What is within your circle of control matters, and realising the power that you have before you embark on any course or job search journey will help you excel.

Your Circle of Influence

What can you do today that will have an impact on your attaining that job?

When you utilise what is within your circle of control, you can increase your influence.

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Within this circle are the things you have partial control over which make it possible for you to affect the outcomes you experience. In other words, these are the factors you can control to influence that which you cannot control. How you apply yourself in life is a key part of this.

While you may not be able to control whether or not an organisation hires you, you can influence the outcome through:

  • The skills you have — by controlling how you use your time to improve them.
  • Actively searching for job opportunities — controlling your attitude (having a positive outlook) and taking ownership of the job search process.
  • The quality of your applications — learning how to make them better in order to improve your chances of being hired.
  • Interview skills — you can spend your time going through questions and practicing your responses so you are prepared.

When you utilise what is within your circle of control, you can increase your influence and in turn increase your level of impact on that which you have no control over. It is in this circle of influence that you can adequately prepare for the whole job acquisition process — application, interview and the job itself.

Everything Else

How are you using your power and influence to respond to the things that you cannot control?

Your preparedness for a job does not start when you get employed; it starts long before that.

Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

Beyond your circles of influence and control lies everything else — the things that you have absolutely no control over. To respond to these factors, you need to return to what you can control and influence:

  • The government — You can use the power of your vote to have some influence.
  • A difficult job market — You can upskill yourself to meet the needs of the job.
  • A pandemic — You can take the recommended survival and adaptation measures.

Whether you’re looking for a job, future-proofing your career with in-demand skills, or taking a big step in any other area of your life, focusing on “everything else” is unhelpful and can have negative effects such as:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression (hopelessness)
  • Frustration
  • Emotional distress
  • Physical illness

Your preparedness for a job does not start when you get employed; it starts long before that. It is really about how you use what is within your control and influence. In which ways do you need to shift your perception of the power you wield to ready yourself for a job today?


Find out more about how ALX is helping young Africans kickstart their careers in the most in-demand technical professions – and check out the stories from some of our talented young leaders.


Nachilengi Chiyangi on commanding your circle of control in your job search

Nachilengi Chiyangi is a content writer. She has a background in Social Work and Psychology which influences the type of writing that she does. Nachilengi is passionate about creating useful and helpful content that can potentially resonate with anyone who comes across it.

By using the ALXAfrica website, you agree to the website privacy policy and the use of cookies.

Accept