Don’t lose heart: A positive attitude will help you in searching for job

Looking for a job can be depressing and demoralizing, especially when the reality of high employment bombards you from newspapers, television, friends and family.

The most dangerous enemy you may have to fight during your job search is your own negative attitude. Being unemployed puts intense pressure on every facet of your life.

In fact, being out of a job has more stress impact than the death of a close friend. Out of 50 life events on a "life events" stress table developed by a physician, Richard Rabe, it ranks eighth. It's no wonder, since our self-esteem, satisfaction and identity are so closely linked to our jobs.

The ways in which you cope with this stress can affect everything you do in your job search. It can make you or break you.

Employers frequently mention the importance of having enthusiasm and a positive attitude during an interview. And I have noticed that people who deal effectively with the pressures of job hunting operate differently from those who have trouble keeping up their spirits.

Pessimism, bitterness and discouragement have the nasty tendency of seeping into letters, interviews and your overall approach to job hunting. So how do you fight it.

The following suggestions, coupled with your own ideas, may help you to stay motivated and positive.

Establish a Routine
Conduct your job search as if it were a full-time job. If you have been lucky enough to receive severance pay or you are receiving unemployment compensation, don't wait until the money runs out. Think of it as being paid to look for a job, not a paid vacation.

Establish a job-hunting routine. Plan your schedule a week ahead. On a calendar, block off time for writing letters, making calls, visiting contacts and doing research on companies. Wasting time by procrastination or feeling sorry for yourself only generates guilt and hopelessness.

Set up a work area in some quiet place in your home where you can get down to business without distractions. Use notebooks, a 3-by-5 card filing system or a filing cabinet to keep track of contacts, interviews, job leads, etc.

If you will be leaving your phone unattended for long periods, you may want to invest in an answering machine.

Take a temporary job - part time, if possible, so you will still have time to devote to your job search. This can offset your financial burden and give some needed structure to your life.

Volunteer work in your area of interest can be beneficial, particularly if you are a career changer trying to build up some credentials in a new field.

It may provide some needed job experience that can be included on your resume, and expose you to job leads. And doing something for someone else always makes you feel worthwhile, I know several people who have parlayed these part-time or volunteer situations into full-time jobs.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Never stop pursuing other job leads just because one looks promising. Focusing on only one job at a time is guaranteed to set you up for an emotional roller coaster ride. If that "sure thing" falls through, it will be difficult to work up enough enthusiasm to get started again. Always try to stay ahead of any disappointment by having other possibilities to fall back on.

Use the support available to you. Operating in a vacuum limits your contact possibilities and contributes to depression and self-pity. Don't be hesitant about telling friends and relatives you are looking for a job. Don't shut them out. They may have some great contacts in their business networks, but may be afraid to offer suggestions because you haven't asked for them.

Be careful, though. Looking for a job may be your burning interest, but don't let it become your only topic of conversation. The last thing you need is your friends and relatives avoiding you because they can't bear to hear every last detail.

Support Groups
Because it is important to talk about these things, you might want to join a more formal support group. One such group is the Job Forum, which meets every Wednesday evening at the Wauwatosa Savings & Loan in Oak Creek (931-6270). A different employment specialist is featured each week to answer your job-hunting questions and provide free advice.

In addition, 13 spin-off job search networks run by job seekers meet in different locations in the Milwaukee area. (The managing director of the Job Forum, Bill Needler, also hosts a TV program called "Job Search" at 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and 7:30 p.m. Mondays on Channel 36).

Keep up your health and personal appearance. Over-feeding your bruised ego with potato chips and beer won't help you find a job. Watch your diet and get regular exercise. You will look better, sleep better and think more clearly. Avoid escapes like alcohol, drugs and daytime TV.

Put yourself on a budget. Some things will undoubtedly have to be cut back, but don't punish yourself and your family by cutting out every luxury, especially if that "luxury" contributes to family togetherness, your personal appearance or your self-esteem. 

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
About Joan Lloyd
Joan Lloyd & Associates provide
FREE subscription to receive Joan's article by email

Email Joan to submit your question for consideration for publication, request permission to reprint an article for distribution, or for information about carrying Joan Lloyd's weekly column in your publication, or on your Internet or Intranet site. Visit to search an archive of more than 1700 of Joan's articles.
© Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.