Your attitude can make or break your job search. Having a bad attitude — whether that means you no longer care enough to put effort into your applications or you think no one is ever going to hire you — is one of the fastest ways to fail in your job search. Having a good attitude, on the other hand, can help your cause as much as a bad one can hurt it.
“Attitude is vitally important in a job search, because it’s the one thing out of the entire process you can control,” says Dave Sanford, senior vice president of business development at Winter, Wyman, a Boston-based staffing firm. “You can’t control if and when someone is going to call you back, or if the person liked you or what the economy is going to be like, but you can control your attitude and how you conduct yourself throughout the process.”
Five attitudes that will get you nowhere in your job hunt:
1. “I’ll never find a job.” OK, so it may sound obvious, but a negative attitude will seriously hinder your job search. It will not only kill your motivation, but like the old saying goes, “If you think you can’t, you probably won’t.”
“A negative attitude can lead to job-search failure right from the start,” Sanford says. “If you are sitting in the room anticipating the end of the play before the first act, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. So that’s where you have to pump yourself up and not go down the negative road.”
2. “Woe is me.” Don’t fall into the downward spiral of feeling sorry for yourself. No one will want to help you in your job search, let alone hire you if you can’t get out of your own way.
“Think about the way you ask for help, for example.” Sanford says. “Stay away from, ‘I know you don’t have time for me…’ and instead say, ‘I have a lot to offer and would love to be able to share what I know and what I can do with you.'”
3. “I’ll take anything.” Applying to every job you see is a waste of time. A successful job search is driven by the quality, not quantity, of applications you submit. “Applying for just about any open position may hurt you in the long run,” says Heather Huhman, founder of Come Recommended, a digital public relations firm focusing on the recruiting industry, and author of the book “Lies, Damned Lie & Internships: The Truth About Getting From Classroom to Cubicle.” “Failing to be focused and specific not only wastes your time and the employer’s but can confuse your network of contacts as well if they have the chance to refer you.”
4. “I’m not good enough.” “Confidence, or a lack thereof, is easily noticed by hiring managers,” Huhman says. “Feeling as if you’re not good enough can be a deal-breaker in the job search. You cannot sell what you don’t believe in.” This is especially important going into an interview, where confidence is integral to success. Remember that if you got the interview, the company thinks you’re good enough to be there. Don’t change their minds.
5. “When is something going to fall into my lap?” Acting entitled is a sure-fire way to repel an employer.
Your attitude signals your mindset, values and possible behaviour in the workplace, says Ginny Clarke, president and CEO of Chicago-based Talent Optimization Partners and author of “Career Mapping: Charting Your Course in the New World of Work.” “Someone who says, ‘When is something going to fall into my lap?’ for example, likely has a big ego, is arrogant and lacks self-awareness. These tendencies make someone hard to manage and an ineffective leader.”
Five attitudes that impress employers:
1. The “can-do” attitude. “If you want to impress your potential employer, think carefully about all of the things going on in his or her work life, causing stress and anxiety. Talk about how you can go into that job and make things easier and better for the manager. ‘I’m here to lighten your burden and lighten your load’ [should be the message you send],” Sanford says.
2. “Give me the ball; I don’t have to have my hand held.”
3. “I’m an awesome team player; not a lone wolf.”
4. “I am determined; I run through walls to get the job done.”
5. “I’m aware of politics in the field of play around me and can navigate effectively.”
“The job search process inherently comes with ups and downs,” Sanford concludes. “Moments of excitement and anticipation blended with feeling defeated and beaten down. It’s crucial that job seekers do everything they can to keep the negativity of the process from affecting their attitudes and overtaking the job search. If negativity starts seeping into your game, and you start to feel defeated and hopeless, the hiring manager will see and sense the baggage and will likely pass. They want someone who is positive and upbeat; someone who says, ‘Give me the ball and let me run through the line.'”