Dear College Student,
I’m 52 years old, have been in the workforce for three decades, have three children and coach soccer and basketball. So as you can tell, I’m a Boomer.
More important to this conversation, I also work where the local high school is located, which gives me a birds-eye view of how students act, and present themselves, in public. Of course, to say all the students act inappropriately would paint me as a grumpy old man, as my children sometimes call me. It would also be inaccurate and unfair to the “kids” who are outstanding citizens.
I realize that you are most likely several years removed from the high school students I see roaming the streets near my work. You have more maturity than them. You are in the process of looking for an internship or job. You may even be experiencing difficulty in finding your next job. Which may be leading to actions and behaviors that may not be helping you, or the job search.
Yes, being unemployed is a traumatic experience. I know; I was on the receiving end approximately ten years ago. Being unemployed isn’t what I’d wish on anyone.
That said, if job seekers aren’t mindful of the attitude they project, it will hurt their chances of finding their next job. Which is why, despite it being perhaps the most difficult thing job seekers can accomplish, keeping their attitude in check is so important.
To help, here are seven signs that a job or internship seeker has a negative attitude:
Arrogance impresses no one. You may have been outstanding in school, and you may be outstanding in the future. But keep in mind that diplomacy is your best card to play. You need to rely on many people to help you in your job search, and most people don’t appreciate an attitude of superiority.
Poor Apparel Choices
What you wear is a reflection of your attitude. At all times make sure you are well-groomed and presentable – you never know when a potential employer might be just around the corner. Wear whatever you like in your apartment, but present a professional image in public when searching for work.
Your countenance is more noticeable than you think. I’ve witnessed people who walk into the Career Center looking as if they’d like to strike anyone in their path. Their mouth looks like it was chiseled into a constant frown. There seems to be hatred in their eyes. This can be intimidating, let alone off-putting. The job search is a tough time in your life, but try hard to smile.
Failure to Like
Be outgoing… maybe even likeable… or at least fake it.
For you introverts (I can relate), try to use every opportunity to network. You don’t have to see networking as only going to large arranged events – maybe you prefer small get-togethers. Real networking is a daily activity, and that’s why you have to be on your game every day.
Mind Your Manners
“Thank you,” “It was great seeing you,” “Hope your day is wonderful,” etc., go a long way. These are things we learned in Kindergarten, yet not all of us practice the niceties as much as we should. I am often thanked by customers after a workshop or in an e-mail. They’re the ones who do the hard work, and their hard work will result in a job.
Don’t appear desperate or, even worse, despondent. Most people want to help you, but if you seem like you’re giving up the battle – your peers, career advisors, and people employed in your industry – will doubt your ability to succeed at your next job. “Never let ‘em see you sweat.”
Your Bitterness is Obvious
My last point is one I make with my workshop attendees, who for the most part are composed. I tell them their bitterness (or anger) comes across loud and clear and… it impresses no one. Yes, you are frustrated because you’re having a hard time getting a job offer. But people are not drawn to anger. No hires a bitter troll. Instead, they’re pushed away.
Why does this matter?
Simply put, your job search is perpetual; in the Social Age, career development is terminally ongoing.
You are being judged wherever you go, online and off. The person who has the authority to hire you is just seeing you on social media, they may be standing behind you in line at Starbucks, or in the same conversation circle at a party, or sitting next to you on the airplane. When asked to recommend someone for a position, anyone is going to back the person who has a great (read: positive) attitude.
I know: maintaining a pleasant demeanor and appearing positive is difficult under an extremely stressful situation like being unemployed.
But I’ll guarantee you a negative approach to conquering unemployment will not serve you – or your career – well.
About the Author: Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center. Jobseekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search. In addition, Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Follow Bob on Twitter and LinkedIn.