It’s a tough job market out there. No doubt about it.

That’s not an excuse, however, for allowing depression to take over your job search.

Now, I realize this might sound hard-hearted and unsympathetic. It’s not meant to be. I understand that job seekers have been frustrated by months of looking for meaningful and decent paying work, while in the interim their careers are stalled and their bills are piling up. I get that, really I do. But your attitude is one of the most important aspects of both your job hunt and one of the most important considerations for employers. Make sure your attitude is one that helps you, rather than one that undermines you.

Take a weekend to:

  1. Find a specific, positive reason why you want to work in a particular field — not simply that you hate what you’re currently doing and hope Field X will be better.
  2. Find a specific, positive reason why you want to work for a particular employer or type of employer — not simply that you hate where you’re currently working and hope Employer Y will be better.
  3. Find a specific, positive reason why you want to work in a particular environment or city — not simply that you hate where you’re currently living and hope City Z will be better.

If your only explanation for applying is “Because I need a job,” well, that’s not the answer employers are looking for.

Remember that employers invest time, money, and other resources in hiring. They pay fees to recruiters, pay to take out job ads, dedicate employees’ time to evaluate candidates and train new hires, etc. So why would an employer waste time on a candidate who is unenthusiastic and uninformed, rather than a candidate who is compelling and upbeat? Why would an employer hire attorney who is running away from something he hates, rather than an attorney who is moving toward a passion?

Would you hire someone with your attitude?

Well, if you won’t, then employers won’t either, and your bad outlook will turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

A successful job hunt starts by looking in the real and proverbial mirror. Because your attitude—for good or for bad—affects your job hunt from the very start, affecting how you interact with your network, how often you follow up on contacts, your ability to get introductions and letters of reference, whether you’re memorable (in a good way) at events, whether people want to help you or spend time with you or are willing to take the risk of passing along your name to their networks. It affects what your resume and cover letter look like and how you interview.

In short, your attitude affects the entire job hunt process from the very beginning. Take charge of your negative outlook, before your negative outlook takes charge of your career.

 

Updated Feb. 10, 2016