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How to Stay Up in a Down Job Market

Last year, researchers from the University of Missouri published the results of a study of 327 job seekers in Personal Psychology magazine.

The goal of the study was to determine what factors increased a person’s odds of receiving a job offer. The authors determined that one of the most important assets needed to win in today’s job market was the ability to maintain a positive attitude throughout the job-hunting process.

The question the study failed to address, however, was: How do you maintain a positive attitude when everyone is telling you no?

A typical job searcher is fed daily doses of rejection and disappointment. Combine rejection and disappointment with a shrinking job pool and you create the perfect storm. Remaining positive, staying up in a down job market, is challenging.

Jim Tressel, head football coach at Ohio State University, is recognized as one of college football’s outstanding coaches. After 35 years in the profession, Tressel knows better than anyone that football is a game of ups and downs. He coaches in an environment where winning 12 games but not winning the national title is seen as a disappointing year.

In his book, “The Winner’s Manual for the Game of Life”, Tressel stresses that the same attitude that helps a football team stay positive also will help in the game of life.

Tressel is convinced that attitude is a choice. It’s a choice we make each day. You choose a positive attitude when you express:

• Gratitude
• Humility
• Enthusiasm

Tressel and his coaching staff talk to their players about having an “attitude of gratitude.” He believes life is a lot more fun when we focus on what we have in our lives and not what we lack. Each day his players are asked to write down one thing they are grateful for, regardless of what it is. Tressel feels that being grateful helps keep things in perspective. His favorite saying is: “It’s impossible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time.”

During a job search it is easy to focus on:

• What you don’t have
• Disappointment and rejection
• Self-pity

Choosing to focus on those areas will:

• Make you miserable
• Make others around you miserable
• Keep you unemployed

Instead, take the recommendation of Coach Tressel and each day write down a couple of things for which you are grateful. I used to do this just before I went to bed; however, I now make a practice of doing this in the morning and afternoon as well. I am amazed how much it helps me:

• Stay positive throughout the day
• Fight through daily challenges
• Remember how fortunate I am

Coach Tressel emphasizes the role humility plays in keeping his players grounded. He feels being humble is especially important when all the fans are telling his players how great they are.

Humility is important in your job search too.

When you are looking for a job, humility means that you are willing to park your ego and pay attention to constructive feedback. You may not agree with what is said, but it is important to listen and think about it.

Often, when someone is giving me some constructive feedback, I have to say to myself: “Lower your ego far enough so you can hear what is being said.” Just repeating that helps put me in a state of mind where I can accept feedback.

To me, humility is the willingness to be coachable. And, being coachable is one of the most important traits that employers look for in new hires. No one wants to be around someone who thinks he or she knows everything.

It doesn’t matter if you are an OSU football player or a job candidate; it’s natural to love to be around enthusiastic people. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Enthusiastic people don’t:

• Carry yesterday’s baggage or tomorrow’s fears
• Take themselves too seriously
• Think the world owes them something

Enthusiastic people do:

• See life as an adventure
• Have an insatiable curiosity
• Live life fearlessly

Winston Churchill said “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” I think enthusiastic people sometimes suffer from a mild form of amnesia. They go through life and can’t remember the disappointments, rejections or failures they experienced two minutes earlier. They learn quickly, make the necessary modifications and continue on as if nothing ever happened. No wonder they are so positive and fun to be around – and bring out the best in others.

Like playing football at OSU, winning a job offer requires maintaining a positive mental attitude. We achieve that positive attitude when we practice gratitude, humility and enthusiasm each day.

Bill

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