Ode to Joy: Staying Positive in Tough Times

When will this be over? by Lig Ynnek. Some rights reservedI'm in the midst of searching for a job; something I hadn't intended on writing about here this time around.  Last time I was RIF'd I spent a lot of time writing about different aspects of the career tool kit and having fun with it, and learning a lot (and sharing that with other job seekers).  Been there, done that.  But I've noticed a disturbing trend this time around.

The last time the tools liked Linkedin were not yet fully embraced by the majority of jobseekers; times have changed.  Now social media has been fully embraced; even Twitter and Facebook are being utilized to source candidates.  It's easier to find opportunities, especially with sites like Indeed.  But with it there are even more hurdles for jobseekers with talent management tools and resume scanners being commonplace.

Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of long term unemployed out there, but more surprisingly is how vehemently some people are while expressing their negativity.  I'm astounded by the bitterness I see in forums on Indeed; it seems many people are quick to tell the world just how much they hate recruiters and the whole hiring process.  A lot of the frequent commenters are also quick to blame the process and those representing the employers (recruiters, HR partners, and hiring managers alike).

One forum participant said, "One call, if that and I am done. Sniveling and groveling should not be a job requirement."  Another said, "why wasn't I hired on the spot during the interview ? I had all the right credentials."  Yet another muttered, "If they don't call, move on." Then one proclaimed, "Don't ask open ended BS questions that will generate BS responses. It doesn't matter. I'm excreting in the wind here anyway."

Manners aside, who would want to hire someone who showed so much disdain and disinterest, let alone a lack of understanding of the hiring process? That's not someone I want to work with.  Don't get me wrong, I'm hardly a Pollyanna, and shiny happy people get on my nerves.  Not every day at work is doing to be a great, fun day.  But if you don't show any passion for the job or interest in the company, all you're doing is eliminating yourself from the candidate pool.

Even when I didn't like particular situations, I've liked the work I do.  So much so that shortly after my last job ended, I was talking to someone at a networking event and after she prompted me to talk what I've been doing, she quipped, "you're face lights up when you talk about it."  I like to think that's evident when I'm talking with recruiters and hiring managers.  Because I do love what I do, especially when I can clearly see how it helps other people do their job.  And I know that's something people in the hiring process can appreciate.

That's not saying there isn't callousness and misrepresentations on the hiring side.  It's a little rude when you can't even send an automated email saying thanks but no thanks. And sometimes the HR partner or recruiter who's doing the screening interview doesn't give much opportunity to have an actual conversation they're so focused on asking the required question and parroting the basic company information.

But even so, self-limitation isn't going to land any jobseeker a job.  It's important to take an honest look at all the barriers you throw in your own path, and find ways to remove them. Blamethrowing has no place in job search, and if you think otherwise the only person you're fooling is yourself.

The first lesson I took to heart about job searching was when my step-brother was telling the family about landing his dream job.  He considered working for a particular organization as the ultimate goal in his career, so when a position opened up there, he applied, and was interviewed.  And then he heard nothing.  Finally he called the hiring manager.  Imagine his surprise when he was told that he was their top pick but they were about to offer someone else the job since he hadn't followed up, and never clearly said, "I want this job."

Looking for a new position -- whatever the reason -- is not a passive process.  Employers are not going to go out of their way to hire you; they're only desperate for hard to find skillsets (like android software developers, which if you are, you're far too busy to read this because you've got work lined up for years).  If you have to apply for the job then you're competing for it, and when you're not the only candidate for the job, you need to find ways to differentiate yourself from the crowd.  To make recruiters and employers want to pursue you, you have to stop giving them reasons to reject you.

Even charities don't give money away to just anyone, let alone a for-profit business. All things being equal -- including the experience and skillsets -- the candidate they're going to hire is the one they can relate to, and can see fitting in to their organization. That's going to be the positive, proactive, and courteous candidate.  

After all, who wants to work with Debbie Downer?

[Photo: When will this be over? by Lig Ynnek.  Some rights reserved via Creative Commons.]


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