Seeking To Be More Positive


I’m willing to gamble that like me, you’re someone who likes to have positive things happen in your life. I think that’s a safe bet. That’s not to say we’re immune to troubles; that we don’t have problems and challenges to deal with of course, but we do like it when good things happen to us.

The question then is whether or not these positive things happen to us randomly and by chance or can we somehow go about our days drawing these positive events to us? Well, just as I believe you can create good fortune through the things you do, I hold that yes, we can put ourselves in situations which we’ll find positive. If we do this on a regular basis, then we generally have a series of more positive events, and these then become linked together, thus creating a pattern.

Now of course, negative things must happen to us all; physical ills, accidents and problems not just for us but for members of our family and friends, yes they’ll continue to happen. We cannot eradicate death, disease and …. well, you get the point. However, those things aside, we can if we choose, go about our day with positive thinking and having our eyes open to situations which we can benefit from being involved in and to which we can add benefit for others.

Think for a moment of the people you come into contact with every day. As you do so, are you able to discern the ones you find generally more upbeat and positive? Again, like me, I’m fairly certain you can. These folks generally appear happier, they may automatically wear a smile when they see others, and they have an overall positive outlook. These are the kind of people you genuinely want to say hello to and have a conversation with because you just know you’ll enjoy it. My guess is you enjoy being connected to them. Wouldn’t it be great if what you see in these people was embedded in all the people you worked with daily?

The naysayers and negative types are likely thinking to themselves that the kind of work setting I’m describing doesn’t and can’t exist. They would say to think that any work site would have just positive people going around all day is a fantasy. Well, isn’t that just the kind of thing you’d expect them to say? There’s irony for you!

A generally positive outlook is what you’re after here. Yes, you’ll still find aspects of your job frustrating and you’ll still undergo stressful situations which challenge the positive energy you’re seeking to bring out. Like every other thing worth having, being positive can be learned. It make take years to get where you want depending where you are now, but it’s worth striving for I believe.

One thing you can do on a practical level to get started is look for positive upsides when difficulties arise. It’s so easy after all to gravitate to the negative and see problems when problems present themselves. But in those challenges, there is likely an opportunity to find a positive. Losing a job is a great example of this. It’s stressful for sure, there’s a loss of income and identity, a fear of what will happen and it can be something we want to keep private rather than share out of shame or guilt. However, losing the job we’ve had can be flipped into positives. We now have the opportunity to look at other options we would have said earlier that we’d love to look at but just don’t have the time for. Well, now we do.

The stress that accompanied that former role is gone now too; replaced I get it by the stress of looking for work, but there are varying kinds of stress and some are actually beneficial. It can be very invigorating to be explore new employers, new careers, school options etc. It’s not all doom and gloom.

The loss of a job can also give you more time with your family, allow you to get the odd thing done around the house you’ve put off too long. Cleaning out the garage or painting the living room might just clear your mind of tasks hanging over your head and that’s a positive thing isn’t it?

Look for good when bad things happen. This is a gift you can give others too. If your job brings you into contact with people who have frustrations and problems, you should certainly acknowledge their feelings – absolutely. However, if you then get them talking about the positive opportunities they may have now that they didn’t have before, you may lighten a heavy load and get them thinking more positively, which in turn can make your interaction better overall.

And the really nice thing about being positive? You draw people to you who are similar in their outlook. That combined outlook is energizing and creates a positive relationship be it in your personal or professional life.

“Sorry, We’re Going With Another Applicant”


The call you’ve been waiting for finally came; the news you received however is not what you were hoping for. Another rejection to add to your growing list of rejections. This is one you’d really wanted too, which is why it hits a little harder and hurts a little more than some of the others.

It’s tough on your self-esteem though I admit. When you saw the number on your phone you lit up, answered with great optimism and had a smile on your face. As you heard the decision hadn’t gone your way, you moved from giddy anticipation to surprised disappointment. Like all setbacks, it’s not the setback itself but rather how you react to it that is going to define what you do now and whether you move further from or closer to your goal of finding employment.

First of all, I want to point out and commend you for one very important thing. The job you were competing for was a good one to go after; the hurt you’re feeling is indicative of the passion you felt for the possibility of working in the role. Had you felt nothing whatsoever in being rejected, I’d question how much you really wanted it in the first place. So the level of sting you’re feeling now is one good indicator of whether this job, or one similar to it is right for you.

Okay so now what to do. First of all, let me suggest you dash off a quick letter to the organization you just heard the bad news from. In this brief letter, share your disappointment at having heard the news and state your ongoing determination to compete once again when this or a position of a similar nature becomes available. Although you may not get a response, it’s professional and says a lot about your determination to move ahead beyond this setback if you also ask for suggestions on how to improve your chances in a future competition.

Why bother with such a letter when the job is lost? Simple really. Most if not all of your competitors will move on without any further contact. It would seem like a waste of time and energy, not to mention the cost of a stamp and stationery. This is precisely why you should pen one. With only 1% of people writing a letter of rejection, you stand out. So if another position opens up or the hired candidate doesn’t last long, they might just get back to you in a month or two and offer you the job if you still want it. Your character you see, came out in that letter.

With that letter sent, by all means it’s time now to turn to other opportunities. If you feel bitter and extreme frustration though, take the rest of the day you get the news off entirely. Scrap the job search for this single day and do other things you’d rather like read, go for a walk, soak in the tub, visit your son or daughter, work on a hobby or go window-shopping. You might even want to share the news with someone who will listen. Whatever you do to gain some broader perspective is good. The darkness of this evening will be replaced by the light of tomorrow’s dawn, the world will go on and you’ll go along with it.

This is a test of your ability to create a positive attitude which is needed to experience success. Your attitude is your responsibility alone. I know, I know, you didn’t want to hear that. You’d rather have had a sympathetic ear so you could commiserate with me and have me say things like, “oh you poor thing”, or “wow, you’ve got every right to just chuck the whole get-a-job thing.” Sorry to disappoint. Empathy I’ve got in abundance for you of course, but now it’s time to refocus.

You owe it to yourself you see. Those other jobs you applied to may just call with requests for interviews or the good news of a job offer. You don’t want your voice to showcase resigned apathy or profound ambivalence. You’ve got to respect yourself because the momentum you’ve built towards your goal needs constant attention. You’ve moved forward and come further than you were when you first made the decision to look for work. Don’t hurt your future chances by stopping now.

At any one time in your job search, you should have some organizations you’re waiting to hear from, some applications in the process of being readied to submit and an eye on new jobs and positions that you don’t want to miss. Interspersed among these should be some regular expressions of thanks to those helping you along, such as your references or supporters and networking both online and in-person. This balanced approach to your job search keeps you fresh and energized; active and engaged. Just sitting in front of a computer monitor day in and day out is a rough and isolating way to spend the hours you need to be successful.

I speak from experience my reader. Like you, I’ve had times in my life when I’ve been hunting down a job and it’s taxing times; filled with highs and lows. I do appreciate the disappointments are hard to take and keep coming back strong with a determined attitude. Ultimately though, no other approach has ever worked.

Message Received: Bring Enthusiasm!


After having spent two weeks supporting a group of 10 job seekers, one of them presented me with a token of her appreciation. Her gift was a folding panel of 9 framed windows, in each of which she had hand-written a quote or made a comment about enthusiasm. It now sits on my window sill in my office.

Now the significant thing here is that for those two weeks, I kept driving home the point to everyone there that employers want to see enthusiasm from their employees and applicants. I myself was driving home that message by being enthusiastic myself. So when I found this on my desk in the room we were using on the final morning, I was sincerely touched by her generosity.

Now earlier in the week – in fact even the day before, I’d mentioned to all the people in the group that I in fact was not allowed to accept gifts from them. No, the only thing permissible would be perhaps a card of thanks. It’s an odd thing to tell a group of people that you can’t accept gifts, because it suggests to some that they should be getting you something when possibly they weren’t thinking of it at all. The reason is that those in the group are unemployed whereas I am not. So when the gift was given nonetheless, I had to get it cleared by a Supervisor in order to keep it.

I am thrilled to tell you her story because not only did she land a job, but something unexpected in addition to the job happened. Read on then, see what she did to put herself in a position to be successful, be happy for her but most of all, take the lessons yourself.

I’m going to gloss over some details just enough to give some context. The woman came to the class with emotional baggage, lots of outside stress and while she had education within the last year, practical experience in her field was a key barrier to employment. In her 40’s, she dressed like she’d been in the profession for years, looking the part she wanted so desperately to play.

Job searching daily from 9 to 2:30p.m. is mentally fatiguing, but that’s the nature of the program I was running. On two consecutive days, I was pleasantly surprised then to see her remain behind and put in an additional 30 minutes with me getting 1:1 help. She was tired to be sure, but she persevered and then the next days would show me what she worked on at home in the evenings. Now that’s a focused commitment to success.

In addition to revamping her resume and cover letter, we worked on her research, LinkedIn profile and interview skills. By working on these, there was a noticeable improvement in her self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image. As much as we were job searching together, we were also working on the reflection of the woman in the mirror.

Now she put out solid applications, each targeted to specific jobs with similar yet different requirements. No mass-produced one-size fits all resumes without cover letters here! She saw others in the group get interviews and jobs. She herself eventually got an interview, then a second and then a job offer. Oh she accepted it all right. She even negotiate a slightly higher salary than that originally presented by the employer.

When she and I last met in person, there was a change in her. She had a new stress she didn’t have before in starting a new job and wanting to succeed yes. But gone was the frustration of a fruitless job search. The, “somebody out there wants me!” feeling of being hired has taken hold. With that objective 3rd party validation, she is able to now shift from looking for a job to keeping a job; anxiety and hopelessness are replaced with positivity and growing confidence.

Now just yesterday she sent me two emails. One was a note of appreciation and to related how nice people are in the workplace and how she’s happy. The second email was a further request for guidance.

You see the LinkedIn profile we had improved both with a change in content and photo, had attracted a Talent Acquisition Specialist for a large well-respected organization. Here she had gone from someone who was unemployed and begging for a chance to show what she could do, to a woman with a job who was now attracting a second employer.

In short, going about her job search with enthusiasm herself, acting on the suggestions made to her and putting in a sincere full-time effort was yielding real measurable results. My enthusiasm had rubbed off on her for sure, but she herself had made the conscious choice to embrace going about her job search with renewed enthusiasm when she could have gone about her job search and my suggestions with skepticism.

If you are unemployed, control the things you can. Choose enthusiasm, add details to your LinkedIn profile, research employers and employees where you want to work. Get out of your sweatpants and hoodies and take pride in your appearance. Look at that photo you’re presenting to the world – would you be motivated to interview the person you see?

When you are enthusiastic you can still be a realist; just go about your day throwing yourself into what you do with your best effort. Make sure you don’t become the biggest barrier to your own job search.