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Is Your Attitude Ambushing Your Job Search?


By Tracy A. Bumpus

"My boss was an idiot," John said, "He and I just didn't see eye to eye on anything."

As a job search consultant, resume writer and recruiter, it is amazing how often I hear this type of statement from candidates and clients. What does it tell me? It tells me this candidate/client:

  • Is focused on the past rather than the future
  • Has a bad attitude
  • Has a chip on his shoulder
  • Cannot forgive and holds grudges
  • May have a problem getting along with others in the workplace

Nothing about this job seeker's statement was positive or beneficial to his goals of attaining new employment. We all have times in our lives when we don't get along with our boss or when there is a communication breakdown, but that does not mean it should be brought up or discussed in conjunction with a job search.

As a recruiter, when I hear negative statements such as this made by job seekers, the candidacy for the position is immediately tarnished. The company that I recruit for (on a limited basis) states up front that a positive attitude is equal to qualifications/experience in their demands for candidates. In the team-oriented workplace that exists in the United States today, companies seek candidates who can get along. Bad apples quickly find themselves culled out and recruiters will not send sour grapes candidates for interviews.

When working with a job search client to develop his/her resume and job search strategy, I stay alert for attitude problems. Often, the job seeker is unaware that in his effort to be honest he is coming across negatively. Some indicators that you may have a lurking bad attitude:

  • You talk more about the people you worked with than the work you did
  • You are focused more on what happened in the past than what you can do at the present or in the future for the target company
  • You brood about real or perceived slights or incidents that have happened to you in the past
  • You mention experience or education that you DON'T have first before pointing out what you DO have
  • You make excuses
  • You don't shoulder the blame; mistakes are always others' fault
  • You go into an interview expecting to fail
  • You have a history of job-hopping (job-hopping is a major red flag to employers that indicates an attitude or maturity problem!)
  • You are late or a no-show for an interview
  • You make no effort to find out about a company before you interview with them

A bad, negative attitude is born from unforgiveness and resentment. The company for which he worked for 15 years lays off a man. He dedicated many long hours and extra effort to doing his job well, but when corporate profits fell, the ax fell and it fell on him. He is angry, hurt, and resentful. He harbors these feelings and takes them with him in the future.

When he interviews for a new job, he makes the comment "I worked 15 years for ABC Company and they booted me and many others out with no notice and without so much as a 'thank you'. If I go to work for you now, how can I be sure that your won't do the same?"

BOOM! A bad attitude has been born. His is angry and resentful at his old company. He has not forgiven. Does his unforgiveness have any effect at all on his old company? NO! The company is not affected by his bitterness. The company is more than likely completely unaware of him or others that were laid off. What ARE affected by his unforgiveness are his attitude and his future. He is sabotaging his quest to find a new job by harboring bitterness over the past. The past can't be changed, but the future can. This man needs to start focusing on the future.

What can you do to right your attitude? Many things!

IDENTIFY your attitude. Think about how you have been answering key interview questions such as "What did you dislike about that job?", "Why did you leave that position?" and "What are your weaknesses?"

FORGIVE past wrongs done to you, whether by individuals or by corporations. You cannot control others but you can control your actions and responses. Make the decision to forgive them and remind yourself of that decision on a regular basis. Do you realize that forgiveness is a decision FIRST and a feeling SECOND? Soon, after making the decision to forgive, you will find you have received a measure of relief from your anger (the feeling) and will no longer be controlled by the past. Luke 17:32 says, "Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot's wife!" Focus on the future. Do not focus on the past. Bad attitude is the lingering stench of the past.

CORRECT your thinking. The world does not revolve around you. Our society has become very selfish and "me-oriented". "What's in it for me?" is the catch phrase of our decade. Start thinking what you can offer others whether it is in skills that you bring to the table, time that you can give to make something a success, or support that you can offer someone in a time of need.

BREAK THE HABIT of negativism. Keep count of how many times a day you make negative comments. You will be surprised. Negativity is a habit. Your grandmother was right when she said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Or as the Bible states it in James 1:19 "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." And one of my favorites-James 3:6, "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." Pretty direct stuff, there.

INVEST in your future. Plan your actions. Dedicate time and effort to finding your career path and job search. Pray for God to guide your steps. "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 15:22. And Proverbs 16:3 says "Commit to the Lord, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Another good verse is Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Seek counsel, pray, and plan! When you invest yourself in your future, you will find that there is no place in that investment for a bad attitude."

<Note from JobFairy.com: This is true. Pray, have faith, do whatever it takes to have a positive attitude whenever you are around recruiters, HR personnel, hiring managers or the unemployment office. You'd be surprised what God might send your way - but you have to be looking up to get it!>

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· All the Articles II
· All the Articles III
· All the Articles IV
· All the Articles II
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· Handling Job-Hopping Questions
· Handling Temp Work on Your Resume
· Help Wanted
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· How to Manage Geeks
· How to Resign with Class
· How to Successfully Pass the Job Interview
· How to Write A Winning Resume
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· Information Technology Tips (Part 1)
· Information Technology Tips (Part 2)
· Interview Body Language
· Interview techniques that Work
· Interview with an IT Recruiter
· Interviewing 101
· Is Tech Work Gender-Blind?
· Is Your Attitude Ambushing Your Job Search?
· Job Fair Links
· Job Jumping: The New Corporate Ladder
· Job seekers don't realize they can ask for more
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· Lessons Learned


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