Developing Your Career


Four Ways to Ensure Your Attitude Is Helping Your Job Search, Not Hurting It

By Lee Hecht Harrison on February 27, 2015

Losing a job—like any other life event—can often throw us off balance and make it difficult to maintain an optimistic outlook. So why do some people seem to persevere better than others? Most often, it’s a matter of attitude.

As reported in a recent article, a study in the UK concluded that long-term unemployment can actually transform the job seeker’s personality—and not for the better. According to researchers, “Over time, the unemployed men and women saw decreases in their levels of agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness—all traits that could affect how well a person performs during a job interview.” The good news? The study also demonstrates the less-than-static nature of our personalities. While external factors such as unemployment may negatively affect our basic personalities, ultimately, we control the ability to “right the ship.”

Developing the “muscle” of resiliency can make us strong enough to quickly recover and maintain positive functioning in the face of adversity. Here are four tips for creating the conditions necessary to remain positive during highly stressful life events:

  1. Accept that disruptions are part of life. Everyone at some point experiences high levels of change. Serious external stressors such as unemployment bring a cascade of changes that can seem overwhelming. Still, as we accept periods of adversity as inevitable, we’re better able to control our response and remain optimistic and engaged.
  2. Recognize that everything is temporary. It’s important when undergoing a period of stress or uncertainty to understand that better times are ahead. Don’t let a temporary setback become a long-term mindset.
  3. Use stress as the impetus for growth. Stressful change gives us the opportunity to reflect on decisions we’ve made and what could have been done differently. Use life changes to learn how to position yourself in the future and then take steps to work your plan.
  4. Focus on productivity. Your circumstances are unlikely to change if you’re not taking positive action. Set daily goals. Schedule your days. Stay connected by joining a job search group, volunteering in your community, networking with former colleagues or taking a temporary job. Remember, it’s the small steps that lead to big accomplishments.

Our personalities are always evolving, colored by our experiences—both positive and negative. While we may not be able to control the future, through our attitude and approach to life we can control how we respond to our experiences and maintain a path of growth and fulfillment.

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