One challenge in a job search is that it seems there are a hundred things to do and you have to do all of them, all the time. That’s mostly true. The more avenues you can pursue, and the better job you can do pursuing them, the higher the likelihood you will find a new position sooner. However, if there were one thing you could give the greatest focus to that might have the greatest impact… what would that be?
Maintaining a positive attitude is one of the most difficult yet most important things you can do for a successful job search. It affects every other aspect of your search and will have a dramatic impact on how you are perceived by potential employers.
A positive attitude makes you more effective in networking calls, meetings, interviews, and every form of contact with other people. People with a positive attitude are more pleasant to talk to, more engaging, and more appealing in many ways.
A positive attitude makes it easier to do the things that you otherwise don’t care to do. Having to contact people that you don’t know may be as appealing to you as a root canal. However, approaching it with a positive attitude will make it much more palatable. Approaching it with a defeatist attitude or sense of dread will cause you to procrastinate, feel miserable, and probably make a poor impression with whoever you may be calling. The same is true at meetings and interviews.
A positive attitude makes you a much more attractive candidate to a potential employer. Someone that comes across as ‘down’, discouraged, bitter, or fearful does not inspire an employer to think “Here’s someone I would love to work with every day!” Someone that is optimistic, upbeat, cheerful, and looking forward to a new opportunity is much more interesting to a hiring manager. It is often the primary reason why one person gets hired over another with similar skills.
So how do you maintain a positive attitude in a tough job market? That will vary from person to person. What works for one may not help another, but here are some suggestions…
- Turn off the TV! It is extremely rare to find anything on TV that encourages you, inspires you, or cheers you up in any way. News broadcasts focus on bad news and trumpet the latest ‘crisis’ 24/7. Sitcoms, reality shows, and dramas don’t tend to highlight the best in people, but rather thrive on stories of people at their worst. Think of how often you walk away from watching TV and feel more motivated to get some work done. Probably not often. Your attitude is likely to be much better without much TV.
- Be careful of who you talk to. Others around you can be a huge influence on your attitude. They can either encourage you or bring you down. Make it clear to your family and friends that you are working hard at keeping a positive attitude and ask them to help you do that. When you network with others, don’t stick around if they are dwelling on doom and gloom. It’s difficult to keep your own attitude up when you’re listening to someone else complaining about how bad things are. Guard your attitude and don’t let others bring it down.
- Exercise! It’s hard to maintain a great attitude when you’re sitting on the couch and eating everything in sight. Your body can have a great affect on how you feel. Better yet, when you exercise your brain emits endorphins that give you sense of well being. Almost invariably, people that exercise regularly have a more positive attitude. Do it. It works!
- Feed your mind with good stuff! The old computer cliché’ is true for our minds as well… GIGO… Garbage In, Garbage Out. The converse holds true too… Good stuff in, Good stuff out. Reading things that are encouraging, inspiring, and uplifting can do wonders for your attitude. For some it may be scripture, for others it may be biographies of great leaders, or poetry. It may be listening to uplifting music or something else that has a positive impact for you.
- Do what you should be doing. One of the best ways to keep a positive attitude is to feel good about what you’re doing. If you are spending your days pursuing your job search as you planned, you will likely feel good about yourself. If your day is more characterized by procrastination and distractions and feeling like you haven’t accomplished much you will likely feel down. Do what you’re supposed to do! You’ll accomplish more and build your attitude every step of the way.
Nothing works for everyone, but pick the things that work for you and do them. A positive attitude will be the most valuable asset for your job search!