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6 Negative Attitudes that will Sabotage your Job Search

And awesome free tools to help get you through it

by Melanie Gallo, PhD

Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become your character. And watch your character for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become. 

Several years ago while watching the movie Iron Lady, I heard Margaret Thatcher’s character say what has become my favorite quote. Although different variations of the quote have been credited to many different people, from Margaret Thatcher, to Mahatma Ghandi to the former President of Bi-Lo grocery stores (yep he got a shout out on the quote list as well), the meaning behind it has long resonated with me and my own school of thought as it relates to business and worklife psychology. 

Sometimes searching for a job or embarking on a career change can be scary and often discouraging. One of the most important things to remember is to keep a positive attitude about the process because believe it or not, it DOES make a difference. 

Here, I talk about 6 common negative thoughts that can sabotage your job search.

1.  I send so many applications and I never get the job.

Focus on quality instead of quantity. Be sure to customize your resume and cover letter to each job that you apply for and clarify how you would use your skills and experiences to meet the needs of the organization.

A great tool to use is Jobscan which analyzes your resume or LinkedIn profile against real recruiter preferences and the hidden requirements buried in a job description. Most companies today use an applicant tracking system or ATS to filter through resumes. This can cause your resume to not even get in front of human eyes. Jobscan helps your resume to speak the recruiter’s language, and the language of the ATS. You can get a free resume scan here. 2.  I'm too young/too old to get the job.

If the job you are interviewing for requires more experience or education than you have, focus on the experience and education that you DO have. There is value in that! 3.  My experience isn't specific enough for this position. The longer you search for jobs, the more likely you will be to apply for positions that do not fit your specific experience. Don't worry. Going into an interview with the exact experience needed for the job is not common. Just make sure you highlight how your specific experiences make you a perfect fit for the job. 4.  My work record isn't great so nobody is going to hire me.

It isn't the fact that you were unemployed at some point in your career. What's important is that you highlight your resillience, explain the gap in employment, and share what you learned from the experience.

5. I‘m not going to ask any questions because I’ll seem picky or ungrateful.

Absolutely not true! You are interviewing them to see if there is a good fit just as much as they are interviewing you. In fact, by asking questions it shows you are engaged and interested. Even if you feel like they have answered the questions you need to know, always have some additional questions ready.

Some good questions to ask an interviewer might be:

  • What is a typical day like?

  • Why do you like working for this company/organization?

  • What are some of the challenges you think a new person in this position would face?

  • What is the greatest challenge facing your staff (department) now?

  • What are your expectations for new hires?

  • How is one evaluated for this position?

6. They may not want me if I share my real weaknesses.

Again, false! Never say “I can‘t think of any” if an interviewer asks about your weaknesses. You are human, and from what I’ve heard, companies are still hiring humans.

Whatever weakness you share, simply follow it up with how you are working to improve it. What they are looking for is a growth mindset.

If you’re not sure what types of weakness to share, a great way to uncover some areas in need of improvement is through assessment.

In my coaching I use a science-based strengths assessment called the VIA Character Strengths Survey that not only highlights your top strengths, but also helps people see things that may not be high on their list of strengths. You can take the VIA survey for free here.

So, say for example, your assessment reveals that curiosity ranks lower down on your list of strengths. The assessment describes "curiosity" as

"Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering."

So if an interviewer asks: What would you say is your greatest weakness?

You could say:

I have noticed that I am not as comfortable when it comes to taking interest in exploring and discovering new things. So I try to be even more intentional about stepping put of my comfort zone by being curious, and asking more questions just for the sake of learning and growning.

You don't have to say curiosity is a weakness, but you can say that it is not a top strength and talk about how you are working to change that.

Remember, what we think, we become. If you think you can land the job, ultimately, you will.

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own.

Resources: University of Georgia Career Center

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