Last night, while watching my son’s basketball team lose a close playoff game, I noticed something curious. Some of the players, including my son, played hard until the final whistle blew. Others, however, gave up the game when the other team began to dominate. Some even demonstrated a downright negative attitude, fouling out of frustration.
It was interesting to see this mixture of distinct attitudes among the players in response to their situation, in part because I witness the same attitudes among job seekers facing tough searches.
Some Job Seekers Don’t Give Up
These people are a pleasure to assist. They wear a smile on their face, despite how they’re feeling inside. Even when they don’t hear back from an employer after spending hours on an application — even when they make it through three rounds of interviews only to lose to someone who is a “better fit” — they trudge on.
I recall one job seeker in particular who used to attend my workshops. He would regularly 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 a job, I asked him how he had felt during his search. Not surprisingly, he told me there were times when he felt despair and wondered if he would ever get a gig. And yet, he never gave up.
He is so grateful for the services I and others offered him at the career center that he speaks to our networking group regularly. He also lets us know when there are openings at the company for which he works.
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, they walk through their job search rather than run. Their despondency is understandable, but they don’t realize it hurts their chances of getting a role.
They lose confidence. They make excuses like, “It’s my age.” I’m not naive enough to believe ageism doesn’t exist. However, 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 lack confidence on the job, too. When networkers see your lack of confidence, they wonder if they should really back you as a reference.
Some Job Seekers Get Angry
As soon as I saw my son’s teammates get angry, I knew it was over. There was no chance they could regain their composure and win the game.
I see anger in few of my clients, too. They may try to deny their anger when confronted about it, but I can see it on their face — and so can everyone else.
I understand why they are angry. I have been angry at times during job searches, too. However, I tried hard not to let that anger show in public. If someone who has the authority to hire you sees your anger, they’re not going to be thrilled about having you on their team.
After one workshop I ran, a recruiter who was in transition 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 people I’d present to my clients.”
The job search can be difficult, but 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.
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center.