On my mind is the elusive topic of why some people get lots of help with their job search and others don’t.

Sure, some people are better networkers and do more to let people know they are out there. But I think there is something else going on, based on my own job search experience and that of so many clients and friends. I think it’s about the job seeker’s attitude.

Some job seekers are angry that they have to look for a job. Some are terrified that they won’t ever get another job. Some feel useless and left behind. Some are bitter that the process is taking so long. Some feel out of date and intimidated by new technology and skills. And others have given up and are depressed, discouraged, and hopeless.

These are the people who get the least help, in my experience.

Then there are those people who are confident they will get a job right for them. They are grateful for help they get. They know they are taking the right steps and have active hope that it will all pay off in the end. They are building relationships with other people as they network, and seeing how they might be of use to others. They are volunteering for charity in order to feel useful and keep their “works well with others” skills current. They may take a course on-line or find free courses to learn new skills.

These are the people who get the most help with their job search.

What interests me about this second group is that every one of them I’ve talked to also has the feelings of anger, bitterness, fear, despair, uselessness, intimidation, and hopelessness. So I’m not saying you shouldn’t have those feelings. It’s ridiculous to think you won’t. And only natural and expected that you will. I know: I’ve been in my own job searches and am intimately familiar with every single one of these feelings.

It’s what you do with these feelings that matters.

I find that people who actively acknowledge those feelings are the very ones who can put them into proper perspective and not let their feelings direct their job search.

I know it’s really difficult to shift your attitude. It’s important to do so for a couple of reasons:

  1. you’ll feel better;
  2. people pick up on your attitude in a nanosecond.

Remember we’re animals, too. So we can sniff out anything that may be in the least bit threatening to our survival. And humans have an amazing ability to pick it up in written communications as well as verbal.

A colleague of mine and I used to check each others’ emails for the “bi***-o-meter” rating, and then take out anything that could be construed as having a bad attitude or expecting anything but love and support from the other person/people.

The reality is that if you’re bitter, people think “she/he is not entitled to anything; who do they think they are?” and their backs get up and they just take umbrage at even thinking about helping you. Likewise with desperation. They think “what is the matter with this person? Why are they picking on me? I don’t have anything for them. This is scary!”

The only attitudes people like are positivity, helpfulness, gratitude and respect.

  • When you ask for their help because they are so awesome, they’re flattered and want to help – usually. And if not, move on to the next one.
  • When you say “I’m looking for a place that can use my talents, where I can help them reach their goals and feel like part of a bigger team” they think, “this guy knows what he wants and it’s not all about him either. Let’s see, who do I know?”
  • When you say “I know you’re busy, and it’s because you’re so connected that I hope you can give me some advice and guidance on my job search” they think, “he gets me, maybe I can spare a little time to find out what this guy’s about and see if it’s worth passing him on to someone else.”
  • When you say “Thank you so much for all you’ve done, I really appreciate your help and couldn’t have done it without you,” they think “wow! what a great guy. That feels good. Maybe this networking thing is OK after all.”
  • And when you say, “What can I do for you now?” that cements the relationship because how many people get asked what kind of help they need, instead of what help they can give? You’ll stand out among a sea of people who want more, more, more.

Here’s the truth: you ARE an incredible person who has great skills and the capacity to be positive. Your fear doesn’t need to get in the way of you being as open, genuine, and friendly as you are. You’re terrific – your fear tells you otherwise. Don’t let it rule you!

So this is the hard work for job seekers. Believe me, I know how hard it is. And how necessary to make this choice every day. It will grow to be a habit to look for the small really good things that happen and quickly pass by the more common not-so-good things. It is only a matter of time then that you will find that “right fit” job for you.