Unemployed And Feeling Bitter?


Bitterness is a personal characteristic which most people don’t find attractive in others. It’s evident in the sneer or scowl, a smirk, the tight lips set in a smile of sarcasm. Bitterness is also one of the least desired qualities for anyone in the position of choosing applicants to extend job offers to.

While you’ve every right to feel what you feel, it’s equally true that employer’s have the right to choose the applicants they feel will add rather than detract from the chemistry and culture they wish to establish and maintain in the workplace. It’s hard to imagine any organization going out of their way to hire bitter people. Would you agree?

So yes, while I acknowledge your entitlement to feel bitter if you so choose about what’s happened in your past, it seems only logical to me that if you want to impress someone enough to have them welcome you onboard, you’d best either lose the bitterness or at the very least, conceal it.

Now if I were working closely with you and found you gave off this air of bitterness, I’d point it out. Further, I’d share with you what exactly it is you’re doing that I’m observing and interpreting as signs of bitterness. For only if you’re aware of this and you’ve some awareness of what it is that sends this message to others have you the chance to do something about it if you choose to do so. This is an important thing for anyone who works with a job seeker to do. So if you should enlist the services of a professional to help you out with your job search, let me suggest you extend permission so you’ll get honest feedback. What you do with that feedback is up to you, but allowing them to share has to be on the table.

Honestly, there are some professionals who are loathe to be entirely honest with the people they work with. It’s fine of course when there’s positives to comment on, but when there’s something unattractive and personal, not everyone is comfortable sharing their observation. This becomes what people call the elephant in the room; whatever it is, well it’s big enough everyone can see it but no one wants to acknowledge and talk about it. This can be out of a fear of confrontation, fearing an argument. It can be for fear of hurting the person’s feelings, not wanting to make them feel worse than they already do.

Here’s the thing though; whatever it is – in this case observable bitterness – it’s plainly visible, it’s a job search barrier, and until it gets addressed, it remains an obstacle to getting hired.

Have you ever heard the expression, ‘one bad apple can spoil the bunch’? This nicely sums up exactly why employer’s are fairly united in steering clear of bringing any new employee into their workforce who carries overt bitterness with them. Why would they want to introduce this person with a chip on their shoulder to a group of positive and productive employees? The fear that this one person might taint one or more (maybe everyone?) is too great to risk. The chance that the whole positive group might turn this bitter person around isn’t worth it. So it is that virtually all employer’s would rather settle on the person who will come in with a positive attitude, as demonstrated by the smile on their face.

Consider however this likely truth: You’re bitter because you’re getting nowhere with your job search; no calls, no interviews – well there was that one – but it went nowhere. It’s been some time and you’re disillusioned. Your optimism departed long ago and now you’re expecting the rejection that ultimately comes. With this belief, your body language and facial expressions reflect this prevailing mood. When you meet potential employer’s, it takes a lot of energy and mental focus to keep your predetermined presumption of failure to yourself. Over the course of a 30 – 60 minute interview, while your thoughts move from question to question and coming up with answers, your focus on concealing what has become your natural bitterness slips once – maybe twice. Those visual clues are likely to get picked up and send off warning signals to the interviewer. “Something isn’t right with this applicant…intuition…the experience of having interviewed many in the past…there’s just this something I caught briefly in a look…”

While you haven’t had any previous dealings with the person interviewing you now, your pent up bitterness from past experiences is nonetheless coming out and on display. The interviewer works under one assumption every time; this is you at your best. Well, if you’re at your best and your bitterness is on display, they can only imagine what it will be like when you’re hired and working there as your, ‘normal self’. It’s likely to be magnified and worse.

If you don’t care of course and want to showcase your bitterness that’s your call. Be prepared for a lot of rejection and as a consequence you’ll have many more reasons to justify your bitterness. Entirely your call. But that’s the thing isn’t it? It’s within your control, you’re the one in charge of how you feel and you’re the one – the only one I’ll add – with the power to change how you feel and how you come across – if you so choose.

It might make you feel better to blame others but ongoing bitterness is a choice you make.

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