Shiny happy people ...

Shiny happy people ...

It’s Wednesday, and that means we have another post from Gordon Dymowski … I know I’ve been promising various upgrades here, but one of these days he’s going to have his own log-in so his pic and name will be up top there on the posts he makes, but until I work out the details of setting that up within the new system at Chicago Now, you’ll just have to deal with me blithering on in these introductions!

Gordon’s message this week, on keeping up a Positive Attitude in the job search, is particularly well-timed for me, as I just heard yesterday that the association job I’d interviewed for a week or so back went to another candidate, with me (once again) falling in that “overqualified” slot. I don’t get that many interviews, so it’s always crushing when I don’t get hired, as it’s been over two years now since my last job evaporated, and it always feels like I’m “back to square one”. So, this was a good piece to be running right now!

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Today’s blog post is about an aspect of job seeking that sometimes gets shorter shrift than it deserves, or is spoken of as being much easier than it is. It is also an aspect that, at times, I still find myself working through. Frequently, it is a very prevalent aspect of job seeking that can potentially sabotage networking and job seeking efforts.

I am talking about attitude – or, more accurately, maintaining a positive attitude while on the job search.

Maintaining a positive attitude in these current economic times is sometimes easier said than done – after all, optimism does not exactly pay the bills. (Or to quote that eminent philosopher Oscar the Grouch, “let a smile be your umbrella and you’ll drown”). With people spending more than a year unemployed or struggling to make ends meet, the last thing they may want to hear is some variation of “keep your chin up”. I know for myself, my attitude (when unchecked) may veer dangerously towards the sentiment of this parody of motivational posters.

But let’s make it clear what we mean by a “positive attitude”. It does not mean that we see everything as happy, perfect, or deny disappointments; it means that events tends to work out “for the best”, and that we know that every “defeat” brings us closer to our goal. It means putting our best selves forward, making the effort to maximize our efforts, and to express our frustrations in a healthy way. A positive attitude allows us to rebound from setbacks, and see the benefits when things do not work out the way we want them to. It also means having a sense of proportion about our experiences, putting our experiences within an overall context of our lives. As my personal role model Winston Churchill once stated, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

And I promise you this: I will try, in this post, to avoid taking on a negative tone. After all, I need to practice what I am preaching.

At the risk of sounding like Stuart Smalley, one of the main ways in which I try to maintain a positive attitude is to adopt an “attitude of gratitude”. Thankfully, I have a really strong support network that helps me through the more frustrating times. When I am feeling particularly frustrated, I try to remember to list at least five things I am grateful for in my life. Granted, it is hopelessly corny, but quite frankly – it works to help me keep things in perspective.

I also try to get exercise and take a walk, rather than browse online – unfortunately, the Internet has become a great channel for expressing less-than-positive feelings semi-anonymously. When something negative does happen (like losing out on a job opportunity), I tend to rely on a small group of people whom I can vent offline, rather than gripe online via social media. (At the very least, they help keep me accountable and honest). When I do cross the line (which is increasingly rare), I make sure I publicly admit my mistake, apologize, and move on.

(One note about expressing disappointment online – something that I always keep in mind before posting is that a potential employer will, more than likely, be doing online searches around my name. If the last thing I post is denigrating or pessimistic, I have just assisted that employer in making a decision based on my behavior. The odds are strong that I will not like that decision. Frustration is best kept offline with a select few people, not in groups or in social media.)

Keeping and maintaining a positive attitude during a job search – especially during these problematic economic times – is a challenge, but is worth it. Although some might take offense, or even begin a preemptive “yeah, but” rebuttal, one thing remains – part of what motivates us (and by “us” I mean “me”) in our quest for employment is that we are looking for work which will fulfill us, and provide the greatest amount of professional challenge, as well as a regular income.

If maintaining a positive attitude brings me that much closer to my goal, I will do it, especially since that attitude will pay off once I’m finally employed.

But I would like to hear from you – please feel free to leave a comment or engage with me via any social media channel (just head to for how to connect). Thanks, and looking forward to hearing from you!

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