Optimistic vs Pessimistic Job Seeker: How to Be More Positive

There are two ways to look at life, one’s job search and the inevitable interviewing rejection each job seeker incurs: the first is to imagine the worst and be prone to depression when we encounter each roadblock. The second is to look at interviewing rejection as a temporary setback and to leverage that disappointment into action rather than stagnation.

It should come as no surprise as to which thought process is more beneficial. Job seekers who think positively will interview more effectively, receive higher salaries, and enjoy more career options. Optimists know that rejection will happen during their job search, though they also believe that rejection is one step closer to a successful outcome.

Conversely, pessimists can crumble at even the most minor setback. They expect the worse; worry in their life is rampant. Their stress is consistently high, and their pay is much less robust. At the same time, their expectations, self-confidence, and subsequent performance remain low.

Luckily, your thought process and fortunes can change.  It just takes some practice.

The first route to finding a better job with higher pay and surviving an arduous job search is to change your frame of mind. Begin to think more positively. While it’s easier said than done, here’s how to do so:

1. Check your worrying:

Pessimists often worry about everything and anything they can. When they have a productive interview, they feel it is a fluke. When they receive a job offer, they worry that the position will be given to someone else.

Though, for any job seeker, worrying does absolutely no good. It lowers interviewing focus, erodes one’s ability to negotiate salary, and makes the overall job search unpleasant.

One of the best exercises to stop worrying and begin to think positively about one’s job search is to do the following:

  • Catch yourself worrying and ask whether your time could be spent productively somewhere else.
  • Write down all the times you’ve worried about this particular outcome and determine when, if ever, the outcome you’re concerned about has ever come true.
  • Have contingency plans. Write down a list of solutions and actions you could take if what you’re worrying about becomes a reality. Naturally, this will mitigate your concerns.

Ex: If I don’t get the job offer from company x, I will apply to _______, _________ and ________ firms.

2. Learn to be self-reliant

Emotional dependency comes out of our need to be correct and our need to get approval. Often, interviewers look to interviewees and recruiters to validate their worth which is a deplorable habit.

Instead, it’s essential for the job seeker to begin to learn that only they are in charge of their feelings and actions.  It’s imperative that anybody on the job market begins to trust their intuition and stops fearing fault or being incorrect.

Risk rejection.  If a job seeker is self-reliant, they are willing to take chances and speak their mind.  Conversely, if they are dependent on others’ thoughts and actions, their performance and career will be a fraction of what it could be.

There are specific ways a job seeker can train himself or herself to be more self-reliant:

  • Know where you want to go in life: When you begin to achieve goals on your own, your confidence rises and, subsequently, you learn to trust yourself.
  • Take a few minutes and reflect upon your successes as a job seeker: Often, we think about our failures and overlook all of the positives we’ve achieved.
  • Expect to obtain your goal: Visualize your success and have faith that things will fall into place if you do the work you’re supposed to do.

3. View rejection in a different light:

We are emotional creatures, and rejection is never easy. Though, when a company rejects a job seeker, they tend to think the worst. Negative thinking drains a job seeker’s energy, creativity, and focus.

Running an executive search firm, I can tell you that there are a myriad of reasons why a firm would postpone a hire. Often, it’s not personal. Here is how our recruiters recommend that a job seeker begin to view job search rejection:

  • Realize that the person who did not hire you isn’t necessarily correct in their judgment. Bad hires happen every day.
  • Make corrections. Life is about making corrections and learning from our mistakes.
  • Take action and keep busy. When you begin to get down, it’s imperative that you begin an activity that will put your focus elsewhere.

It’s not too late:

Regardless of how many rejections, poor interviews or failures you may have had, begin to adjust your mental picture during the interview process.  No job seeker is too senior or junior to change their thought process.

Running an executive recruiting firm, I can vouch that it’s a lot more lucrative to think “glass half full.”  Therefore, you might as well learn how to do so. Do you have any more tips? Let us know in the comments below!

By Ken Sundheim

Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement, a sales and marketing executive search firm based out of New York City. He is also a writer for Forbes. Follow Ken on Twitter @Ken_Sundheim.