Dear college students, 7 ways to watch your attitude

Angry Woman

This post originally appeared on Although it addresses college students, it also applies to all jobseekers. 

I’m 52 years old, a father of three children, two of whom are of college age; I coach soccer, drive a van, and work in a section of a city where the high school is located. What this last factoid has to do with my life is that I’m acutely aware of the inappropriate behavior of the students that erupts on occasion.

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 most of the “kids” who are outstanding citizens.

What does the aforementioned have to do with you?

You are four years removed from the high school students I see roaming the streets around where I work.

You have more maturity than them.

You are earning a degree or have earned.

You are in the process of looking for work.

You may find landing your new job challenging. Be prepared.

No one will argue that being unemployed isn’t a traumatic experience, especially me. I was on the receiving end approximately ten years ago. Being unemployed isn’t what I’d wish on anyone.

This said, if jobseekers aren’t mindful of the attitude they project, it can hurt their chances of finding their next job. This is perhaps the most challenging thing jobseekers can accomplish, keeping their attitude in check.

One’s negative attitude shows itself in many mannerisms. Failing to control these mannerisms can prevent you from getting to the interview. Below are some signs of a negative attitude. These are things you should keep in mind when going out in public.

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 at this time. You will be relying on many people to help you in your job search, and most people don’t appreciate a superior attitude.

Apparel is one aspect of your attitude. During the summer it’s hot out there, but please refrain from wearing gym shorts and brand-name tee-shirts. 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 what you like in your apartment.

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 to smile, as hard as you may try.

Be outgoing…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 your thing is small get-togethers. Real networking is a daily thing 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. Yet they’re the ones who do the hard work, and their hard work will result in a job.

Don’t appear desperate and despondent. Most people want to help you, but if you seem like you are giving up the battle—your peers, career advisors, and people employed in your industry—will doubt your ability to succeed at your next job. “Don’t let ‘em see you sweat.”

Hide your anger. My last point is one I make with my workshop attendees, who for the most part are composed. I tell them their anger comes across loud and clear and…it impresses no one. Yes, you are frustrate because you’re having a hard time getting a job offer; but people are not drawn to anger. They’re pushed away.

Why does this matter?

Simply put, your job search is ongoing. You are being judged wherever you go. The man or woman who has the authority to hire you, may be standing behind you in the checkout line. Those who try to help you take into account the aforementioned aspects of your overall attitude. If given the choice to recommend someone for a position, anyone is likely to back the person who has their attitude in check.

As I’ve said, maintaining a pleasant demeanor and appearing positive is difficult under an extremely stressful situation like being unemployed; but I’ll guarantee you that a negative approach to conquering unemployment will not lead to quick employment. Be mindful at all times how you appear to others.


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