You may be showing up for interviews with a bright smile and responding to questions with a blast of sunshine (“I loved my last job! I’m not in it for the money! My weakness is that I work too hard!”) and you may be throwing yourself into every networking opportunity with an eager handshake and a level of enthusiasm that peels paint from the walls. But if you aren’t finding success with your search process, your attitude could still be to blame. Here’s why, and here are a few tips on what to do about it.
The corporate world is full of fakery— But that doesn’t mean you have to be.
The job search process and the corporate world are full of manufactured smiles and cheerful small talk. Positive language fills every room and people generally try not to reveal their true feelings or upset each other, at least on the surface. But it’s wise to recognize the difference between cheerful expressions and genuine satisfaction. If a job isn’t right for you, it isn’t right for you. If the culture isn’t appealing, if the salary doesn’t meet your requirements, if the business model doesn’t reflect your values, walk away. Smile if you wish, but don’t be taken in by your own smiles, and don’t fall for your own positive chatter. A bad deal is bad deal. A mismatch is a mismatch. When the answer is no, it’s no.
Honesty is the key to real positivity.
If an employer wants a candidate who can code in HTML or speak Italian and you can’t do these things, be honest. Honesty—even if it sounds a little negative—will get you where you need to go faster. When your current goals no longer work for you, drop them. When your actions aren’t helping you, give them up. Sometimes “losing” is winning, and vice versa. Unhappy careers (and lives) often start with people frantically and compulsively chasing things they don’t really want.
Open communication matters.
If you have a suspicion or a doubt, share it. If you have a question, ask. Be open with your potential employers and expect them to be open with you. Again, it does no good to omit a burning question that could help you make an important life decision (And for the record, it doesn’t impress anyone.)
Shake off setbacks.
In our modern world, most of what we call “setbacks” really aren’t. A few generations ago, for example, a rejected resume or a layoff might have been considered a serious disappointment or a career “failure”. But this isn’t the case anymore. Most candidates submit many resumes before landing an interview, and most people have been laid off at least once (often multiple times) by the mid-career level. The average employee maintains a job for about 2.4 years (certainly not for life), and mid-career pivots are far more common now than they were for our parents. Don’t let meaningless upsets get you down.
For more on how to make sure your “positive” attitude is truly positive, turn to the career management team at PSU.