Get Rid of Negative Thoughts
You've been unemployed for six months. You think you're too old, fat or stupid to find a job. Keep thinking that way, and you'll prove yourself right. Negative thinking and speaking can derail your job search. Most employers want to hire happy people -- not people who are down on themselves and the world.
Picture two job applicants. Each walks into an office for an interview and is greeted by a receptionist who says, "Good morning." The first says, "I thought I'd never find this place. It's raining so hard that I got drenched just walking from the car to here." The second says, "Those directions you gave me were great. It sure is raining, but we really need it, don't we?" Which of the two would you want to hire?
It's All in How You View the World
Maybe you wouldn't complain about directions or the rain, but the way you view yourself can influence your job search. "You can perceive anything in a lot of ways," says Elaine Varelas, managing partner at Keystone Partners, a Boston career management firm. If you're an older worker, you can see yourself as experienced -- or just old.
So how can you sound happy when you're really feeling the opposite? First, admit you have a problem. Tell yourself out loud that you have a tendency to be pessimistic and that you are going to look for the positive. "You don't need to totally revise your personality, but you have to recognize that it's not a lot of fun to be around someone who's cranky and negative, and people have that choice when they hire," Varelas says.
Next, set up reasonable daily goals, and reward yourself when you accomplish them. A reasonable goal might be making five personal contacts. The goal can't be vague or too large, and certainly shouldn't be, "I'm going to find a job today."
Next, tell yourself that job hunting is a numbers game. "It's a lot like being single," says Jay Arthur, author of How to Motivate Everyone. "I know that somewhere out there, there's a way cool job that's right for me. I just haven't found it yet. Part of it is knowing that a 'no' from someone is the universe keeping you from a bad job."
Can You Do It? Yes, You Can!
Can people really turn their job searches around just by reining in negative thoughts? "I had [as a client] a senior person in healthcare who was a solid, good guy who had a great wit [but] was a little bit pessimistic," recalls Varelas. "He couldn't see himself growing from this negative experience."
"What we said was, 'Picture every interview as your ideal job. After the interview, you can turn it down, but use the same kind of words. You'd be energized to go to work each day, so emphasize that you're a high-energy person who's energized to go to work,'" Varelas says. "His networking became much more positive, and he rose from middle management to senior executive."
Picture who you want to work with, where the job will be and what you'd be doing, Arthur adds. When you go into an interview, you'll already see yourself helping the employer succeed. That attitude will come through. "It's not, 'Do you want me?' It's, 'Here's how I'm able to help you,'" he explains.
And as for being too old or overweight, just remember everyone has something to overcome. So get out there and try one more time, because this may be the day you talk to the person who puts you in touch with someone who hires you for your dream job.
Additional Articles in This Feature
- The 40-Plus Career Reinvention Checklist
- Lessons from Past Recessions
- How Men 40-Plus Can Beat the Barriers to Getting Hired
- Strategies to Leverage Experience
- Search Tactics for Seasoned Workers
- Show Your Experience on Your Resume the Right Way
- How Old Do You Look?
- I'm Overqualified
- Motto for Interviews: Be Prepared
- Fight Job Search Ageism
- Why Smart Guys Get Stuck in Ruts -- and What to Do About It
- Dealing with Differences at Work