5 ways you’re killing your job search

angry eye

This post was originally published on recruiter.com. I have added an additional job search killer, though. 

I talk with my workshop attendees about some variables in the job search that are very important to their success. These variables are not their résumé, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, or interview techniques. It’s their attitude.

I’ve written about the importance of demonstrating a positive attitude, but this concept is hard for some to embrace. Let me be clear that I’m not implying that people in crappy situations have to feel positive; they just need to fake it till they make it.

Lately I’ve read more than enough responses to posts or updates on LinkedIn to prompt me to speak up. As well, I see a few people who attend the career center for which I work who look like they have hatred in their eyes; enough, in fact to be scary.

To these people I offer a warning; your chances of getting help are minimal at best. All would agree that people are more willing to help those who are positive than those who are negative. This I also point out to my workshop attendees.

Displaying a negative attitude may make people, such as networkers who can be of assistance and potential employers, refrain from helping because of the following reasons:

You come across as a difficult person with whom to work

That sneer on your face serves no other purpose than to drive people away. It makes people wonder why they would want to spend time talking with you. You come across as angry and mean.

When potential employers see your rants on LinkedIn, they wonder if the negativism will carry over to work. And since they have people beating down their doors for jobs, you’ll get passed over as one of hundreds applying for their job/s.

One trait of someone who has emotional intelligence (EQ), is someone who can control their emotions. With a nasty attitude displayed in public or online, you come across as someone who lacks this important element.

You aren’t confident

Whether we like it or not, employers want to hire someone who shows confidence. Confidence implies the ability to perform well on the job. I think particularly of salespeople who need to close a deal, showing confidence in their product and in themselves.

But this also applies to the job search. If you want someone to refer you to a position, you need to demonstrate confidence. You need to show you have the skills to do the job for which they’re referring you.

And at the interview when only your appearance and verbal communication skills are what count, a lack of confidence can kill the deal. Interviewers are wondering if you can handle the responsibilities required of this position when your body language and verbiage say otherwise.

Now here’s the rub: after losing a job for any reason, your confidence may be shot. You may doubt yourself. As someone who essentially goes on stage every workday, I have to act enthusiastic, even if I’m not in the mood. The same applies to you…but at a greater level.

(Gulp) there was a reason why you were terminated

Many people who were terminated will say it was their bosses’ fault. They will cast blame. But as you listen to their story, it becomes clear that the boss was not at fault. It was the employee’s poor attitude that caused friction.

The first part of self-awareness is realizing this in yourself, and the second part is doing something about it. Assess when you were difficult to work with and come up with a way to correct it.

Lastly, don’t talk about these instances in public. Listeners will not want to hear about them, especially if you go into elaborate stories about how unfairly you were treated. You will essentially come across as a complainer.

You’re not ready to work

Until you have your poor attitude in check, you are not ready to enter the job search. You’ll need to come to peace with your situation. Perhaps there was a reason why you were let go, and it was justified.

In this case, you should (figuratively speaking) count to ten. Take more than a week off, as I suggest to my customers, before you begin your job search. It may take longer. And you may have to seek professional help.

Employers want steady, confident employees; they shy away from candidates who are unstable. I’ve heard reports from recruiters and hiring managers who wouldn’t consider recommending someone for a job because the person was too emotional during the interview.

You’re just plain ole nasty

I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “Mean People Suck.” This bumper sticker spoke to people who are angry at themselves, at others, essentially at the world. Anger comes through in a person’s face-to-face interactions, as well as their online presence.

I wrote a blog awhile back about a person who was eyeballing me during a workshop, and how my objective during the workshop was to give it back. He ended up giving me the highest rating I could receive, to my surprise. Nonetheless, I prefer a happy, head-nodding person over this gentleman any day.

My only hope for people like this is that they find an employer and environment where they can flourish. Maybe it’s a position where human interaction is unnecessary, or where nastiness is required for the position–none comes to mind. I refuse to say there is no hope for someone like this, but I’m inclined to think it.

I don’t have any illusions of all readers to agree with what I’ve written. I imagine there will be some who downright hate it. Some people will complain that I could never understand what they’re going through, that it’s hard not to scowl or gather up the confidence.

Here’s a secret. I wasn’t the best unemployed person on the face of this earth. I’ve run into people far better than me. But I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I can only say, “Try. Try real hard to act civilized. It’s the only way you’ll receive help from those in the position to help you.”

Photo: Flickr, adriana chira



3 thoughts on “5 ways you’re killing your job search

  1. davidhuntpe

    While I will certainly agree with much of this, flip it… where is the EQ of employers confronted with a sucks-canal-water economy, untold millions out of work, people losing their homes, their retirements, etc., and told “Let them eat gigs”? Where is the empathy of hiring managers who, doubtless in their careers, had people give THEM the “benefit of the doubt” while denying that very same courtesy to those over whom they hold power?


    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Point taken, David. But what’s the alternative? How do job seekers force employers to hire qualified long-termed unemployed? Or older workers who they perceive as needing more money than younger workers? Or job seekers who have disabilities? If you, or anyone, knows the answers to these and other struggling populations, let them know.


      1. davidhuntpe

        That’s the $64,000 question – or questions.

        I think there are two interrelated answers.

        1. Networking. Getting someone who KNOWS YOU to introduce you to a person in the company who KNOWS THAT PERSON.

        2. Showing value vs. “raw cost”. If you’re a seasoned employee, what is your value? You’ve already made a lot of the mistakes. You have perspective and have likely seen similar problems before – and have a “deep well” of experience from which to draw.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s