Job Hunting Tips: Mental Attitude Matters


Another key area to focus on when preparing for a job hunt is your mental attitude.

As I’ve said before, “Don’t dwell on the negative.” Aimless doubt and self-questioning never helps. Worrying rarely does anything constructive. Likewise with placing blame. Negativity just eats up your energy and it won’t get you any closer to your goals.

Take for example Frank, a 39-year-old computer technician, who lost his job when his company down-sized. Frank had a wife and a son in elementary school. He had a mortgage and debts. He was not unlike the vast majority of us. The aver­age American family is just three missed paychecks from homelessness.

The layoff surprised Frank. We all tend to think these things hap­pen to other people. Frank’s real problem came after he lost his job: He just couldn’t let go and move forward. He appealed to his bosses, which isn’t necessarily a bad move if you believe you have a compelling argument for reversing their decision.

But appealing is always a long shot and rarely succeeds. It didn’t work for Frank, who simply saw that co-workers had not been laid off and wondered why him and not them. It wasn’t that he wished his colleagues ill as much as it was the notion that he had been mistreated and disrespected. That wasn’t true, but Frank allowed the notion to become dogma. He thought of himself as a target and scapegoat. He was angry and self-pitying. He turned himself into something of a martyr. It corrupted his thinking and crippled his efforts to get on with his life.

Last time I saw Frank, he was still looking for work.

It’s important to remember that why you lose a job usu­ally doesn’t matter after you’ve lost it. It’s old news. Potential employers are more concerned about your future with them than about your past with another company. Bad thoughts bring bad karma. They cause you to stall and backtrack as you unconsciously undermine yourself, your plans and your ambitions.

Family and friends can help. If you’re married or in a significant relation­ship, a nurturing, encouraging partner can do wonders, psychologically and practically. Likewise with close friends who can serve as sounding boards and a support team.

Avoid friends and acquaintances who, well-meaning or not, dwell on the downside. You don’t need or want a “pity party.” Sitting around complaining or feeling sorry for yourself and your situation is self-defeating. You’ll just feel worse.

Any tips for keeping yourself positive in tough times?