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Winning the Sport of the Job Search

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This past summer I saw my son’s basketball team lose a close playoff game. I noticed a mixture of emotions. Some of the players, including my son, played hard until the final whistle blew. Others gave up the game when the other team began to dominate. And some demonstrated a downright negative attitude, including fouling out of frustration.

The team could have won if they had more confidence and stayed the course. But they didn’t stay the course and unite as one. It was interesting to see the clear distinction of attitudes between the players. I witness the same attitudes in some job seekers.

Some job seekers don’t give up

These are the people who are a pleasure to assist. They wear a smile on their face, despite how they’re feeling inside. They don’t hear back from employers after working hours on their résumé and cover letter. They make it through three rounds of interviews only to lose out in the end to someone who was a “better fit.” Despite this, they trudge on.

One job seeker I helped, when I started delivering workshops, would ping me on his progress. “Bob, I had a great interview today. I have a few coming up this week. Ciao.” Then, “Hola, didn’t make the final cut. Better luck with the next interviews.”

When he finally landed, I asked him how he felt during his job search. Not surprisingly he told me there were times when he felt despair and wondered if he would ever land a job.

He was so grateful for the services I and others offered him at the career center that he speaks to our networking group when I ask him. He also let’s us know when there are openings at the company for which he works. This is the true nature of networking.

Related: Where Self-Promotion Is Important for Introverts

Related: 45 Résumé Words That Need to Be Made Extinct

Some job seekers throw in the towel

It shows on their face. They say they’ll never land a position. They lose sight of the bigger picture. Like my son’s teammates during the game, they walk through their job search rather than run. Their despondency is understandable, but they don’t see it hurting their chances of landing.

They lose confidence. They make excuses like, “It’s my age.” I’m not naive enough to believe that ageism doesn’t exist; however, I believe if you adopt that attitude immediately, you’ve already lost the game. Hopelessness settles in.

When employers see your lack of confidence, they wonder if you’ll demonstrate confidence on the job. Similarly when people with whom you network see your lack of confidence, they’ll wonder if they should back you as a reference.

This was not the case when I recently acted as a reference for a woman who had been out of work for more than two years. I loved her “can do” attitude so was glad to speak to her personality. She landed a job based on her rich experience and, I’m sure, her attitude.

Some job seekers let their anger show

As soon as I saw my son’s teammates get angry, I knew “that’s all she wrote.” There was no chance they could regain their composure. The other team noticed this, and I’m sure it boosted their confidence. I wondered if I were coaching if I could reign them in. I concluded I couldn’t. It was in their personality makeup.

I see anger in few of my clients. It may be a workshop or during a one-on-one appointment. When I see their anger, I’ll tell them their anger is written on their face. They’ll deny being angry, but it’s so apparent that there’s no denying it.

I understand they are angry; I was angry at times during my job search. However, I tried hard not to let it show in public. Public anger might be witnessed by people who have the authority to hire you or know someone who has the authority to hire you.

Job seekers who let their anger show don’t think others notice it. After one workshop a recruiter who was between jobs approached me and said, “You know, I’ll eventually find a job in recruiting, and I’m going to remember the people in this workshop who are angry. They’re not the ones I’d present to my client.”

The job search is like sports. Moreover, how you handle yourself during this time of transition can be more important than your technical expertise. Don’t give up and don’t show your anger; your job search will be longer if you do either or both.

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