Positivity in a Job Search

Image of a chalk board with different colored post-it notes spelling out "Positivity"Looking for a job can be an incredibly frustrating task. Today, individuals often find themselves anxiously searching for positions that will be a good fit within a very competitive market.  Inevitably, rejection is an unavoidable aspect of a job search. Negativity can also be compounded by self-doubt. Maybe you worry that you don’t have enough to offer a new employer or maybe you worry that you will be unsuccessful in finding work that is meaningful to you personally.

Negativity can be internalized and then it can seep out during the worst times, like during a big interview. Employers are keen at sniffing out desperation, bad attitudes, and poor self-esteem.  Interview questions are intentionally designed to gauge many of these dimensions.  So, how can you turn around a job search that has gone awry?

If you have been feeling negative about your job search (or anything really), explore one of the better-known books in positive psychology research. One book in particular that is available for check-out from the OITE Library in Building 2 is Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, by Martin E. P. Seligman, 2006. This book includes self-tests and exercises to assist you with assessing (and hopefully increasing) your happiness at work and in life.

This book goes into detail about how you can begin to train yourself to think more positively. If you are feeling stressed by the thought of adding another book to your reading list, here are some key points for you to utilize in the meantime:

1. Your language matters. Negative self-talk has a direct impact on subsequent thoughts and behaviors. When you find yourself saying things like, “I would love that job, but I am not qualified,” try to force yourself to reframe it in a more positive light, such as: “I would love that job, and I will find a way to gain the necessary skills.” Simple semantics like replacing the “but” with “and” helps put the locus of control back to you.

2.  Re-live past wins. One negative thought can lead you down a spiral of negativity. The same is true for positivity.  Make a list of all your accomplishments, both big and small, so when you start feeling negatively, you can have a visual reminder of all the things you have done well.

3. Reward yourself.  Take your job search seriously and set daily or weekly goals to track your progress.  When you’ve reached a goal, reward yourself. Celebrating small successes along the way can help positively reinforce that behavior and hopefully keep you motivated.

4.  Take responsibility. Others cannot control your happiness. While things can be really tough, only you can make the choice to focus on the positive by using the tips above.

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One Response to Positivity in a Job Search

  1. M. Grant says:

    This is great advice! I work in disease research and, having transitioned careers more than once, can attest to the fact that focusing on the wins in your past and understanding why you failed when you failed are the keys to success.

    “To Thine Own Self Be True”

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