August 18, 2011
Is It Possible to Keep a Positive Attitude in Tough Times?
As we discussed in a previous blog post, "Going the Distance in Your Job Search," a lengthy job search can make maintaining a positive attitude (which is key to staying active and productive) very difficult. We spoke to motivational author Karen Okulicz and asked her for tips on keeping a positive attitude in the face of challenging employment situations.
Monster: What would you say to someone who's facing long-term unemployment (and getting very discouraged) that can start helping him or her regain a positive attitude?
Karen Okulicz: Go back to the basics and review. What have you done to create new work, and where do you need to go next? Any movement forward will create a positive attitude. Are you looking for the right position? You may not be able to go back to what you once did. So rethink your work search.
(For tips on making a career change, see Monster.com's "Life Changes" series.)
Also make sure you're taking advantage of all that's offered at your state's Workforce Development program or your local jobs center, library, church-based groups, and so on. They are there to help. Go. People who are in these types of programs are employed quicker. You can join others to network and gain new skills for new work.
Monster: What are a couple of daily, broadly applicable steps a job seeker might take to maintain a positive attitude?
Okulicz: Exercise is the magic pill for self-care, clearing you mind, taking care of your body, and maintaining a great attitude. Before, you may have not had the time. Now you do. This does not take money. There is no need to join a fancy or expensive gym; this takes a mental decision and a little of your time. You have that now. Every day, get out for a walk or bike ride.
Use your time wisely. Structure the day. Take a walk, send so many resumes, make so many phone calls, research on the Internet, read a book, write five letters, attend a workshop, and so on.
Stay with positive people. You do not need to have any self-doubters by you. It may mean you get out of the room quicker and off the phone sooner. Read something positive every day.
Create and keep a gratitude journal. Write in it every day. Write the three to five things that you did accomplish. Accomplishments acknowledged help grow confidence and good attitude.
Monster: You've published "Try! A Survival Guide to Unemployment." Can you give me an example or two of a piece of advice you think many job seekers might not be aware of?
Okulicz: Save every rejection letter or email -- no does not mean no forever. You will be working again, and this contact from the rejection letter may be an entry into that company when you need a contact there.
You may be able to work part time and still collect your unemployment benefits. Every state is different. You will have ask the amount of money that can be made. This will help you get moving with working. A part-time job may turn into a full-time employment.
Monster: You've also published "Decide! How to Make Any Decision." At what stage in an important career-related decision (say, to change careers) do you recommend seeking other people's advice?
Okulicz: Good question. I am a believer of constantly taking courses or volunteering while you're working. If you want to make a change to a field that you don't know, you'll have to do some research first. If you are employed, you may have to research quietly without telling anyone you are doing this -- you may want to take a night class or volunteer on a weeknight or weekend. Every interaction with new people creates unexpected opportunities.
I had a client who loved crafts. So she worked one night a week in a craft store. After six months she knew this was for her. She eventually became a part owner in the store she had worked in.
Monster: In your career of helping people in their careers and in dealing with employment issues, what are some common errors (of thinking or practice) you see people making?
Okulicz: The biggest mistake I see is that people wait to look for work. People think not looking for a job in the summer or around the holidays or until their unemployment money runs out is OK. This is not OK. If you are unemployed, you have to start looking immediately. Companies are always interviewing. You want to jump into the process immediately. Your new job is to look for work.
Do not believe that just sending in a resume is the right way to get a job. It's not. Looking for work requires a new type of approach. You may have to work for free as a volunteer to prove your value and worth. If you can work there for a day or half day whatever, then that is a gift that may turn into a job.
Saying that you want to work is not as powerful as doing work. Actions speak much louder than words. Deliver the value and create a situation where helping you back is the proper thing to do.
You have to be willing to tell everyone you are unemployed and ask everyone for assistance. Do not feel like there is a stigma about being out of work. It's more prevalent than you can imagine. You have to be brave and ask for what you want. You may have to start small and ask for something small -- but unless you ask, you will not receive anything helpful or useful. Keep asking for what you want and what you need. Persist.
How have you kept a positive attitude during a job search? Share your comments and stories in the Comments section.
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True it is very beneficial to keep a positive attitude in tough times though it is hard but it can be done. The main thing is to decide to do that instead of waiting for the circumstances to favor you.
Posted by: Martina | Aug 20, 2011 7:36:36 AM
Staying positive in tough times is better than staying negative, that is for sure. But I have also found there are traps in the positive thinking modality. For illuminating insight, see: http://www.optimalthinking.com/AbovePositiveThinking.html
Posted by: Laurie | Aug 22, 2011 3:42:49 PM
I like this post about keeping a positive attitude while doing a job search and in a sense taking care of yourself everyday to make sure you are at the top of your game. This reminded me of the book, "Great Work Great Career," by Stephen Covey. In the book he suggests researching companies before you interview and presenting yourself as a solution to a particular problem the company is facing. I agree with this. There seem to be too many people out there who don't do the work for job searching and rely on simple methods to get the job. It's a knowledge age book.
Posted by: Zach | Aug 25, 2011 8:25:59 AM
"You have to be willing to tell everyone you are unemployed and ask everyone for assistance." Sadly, someone who is unemployed tends to attract pity from other people, not exactly the kind of reaction a person would like to get, so this is why there are those who hesitate to inform others that they're between jobs at the moment.
Posted by: Eleanor | Aug 26, 2011 2:04:16 PM
Eleanor, that's a good point. It's up to unemployed people to make sure that they're presenting a well-rounded story. So you're right -- you wouldn't just say "I'm unemployed; help me." You would say, for instance, "While I look for the right opportunity in my career as a marketing pro, I'm working to make myself even more hire-able. I'm teaching myself how to use some video-editing programs and volunteering as a PR specialist for a local charity ... check out my blog!" ... If you're active in your job search, you can make the story a success story, not a sob story.
Posted by: Charles Purdy | Aug 26, 2011 5:42:40 PM
Volunteering is an excellent idea, because wonderful opportunities can come from doing so. Find organizations or companies in your industry that you can volunteer for if you are interested in a lateral move. This is certainly legitimate experience you can add to your resume.
Posted by: Stacey | Aug 26, 2011 10:24:15 PM
I agree that keeping a positive attitude is difficult in the economy that we are in right now. The news about employment is very depressing and seemingly without any hope of improvement. Hopefully things will turn around soon.
Posted by: Davd Stillwagon | Aug 29, 2011 1:10:37 PM
Very possible, albeit being tough. Takes a mature person to do this, many are swayed by the distraction that comes along with tough times which compounds the stress and makes it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand.
Posted by: Sanford | Aug 29, 2011 6:50:36 PM
The current economy turmoil, if you have a good job, cling to it as if life depends on it. Perseverance and good patience is always good traits to develop during tough times.
Posted by: Robert | Sep 1, 2011 10:21:32 AM
stay away from the negtive people.
Posted by: Randy Meison | Oct 25, 2011 11:21:54 PM
I experienced, first hand, virtually everything that was mentioned in this article and all I can say is, "It's true!"
It was my experience, after being laid off twice since 2005, that it is important to get professional assistance and guidance BEFORE you lose your job. It's not unusual for people to be out of work for one or two years, and that's when they are actually trying to find employment.
The pschological experience of losing your job is extreme and should not be underestimated. It should be a major part of your plan to deal with the negativity.
Even with the new technology -- internet job boards, social media and email -- there is no substitute for telling as many people as possible that you are looking for work. It doesn't have to sound like whining or as though you want pity.
I simply told people that, "I"m looking for work, so please let me know if you hear of anything." You don't have to dump negative emotions on your contacts -- just let them know that you're looking for work.
My state's Workforce Development Program did give me some good information, and presented an opportunity to be with other positive people in the same situation as me.
I'm employed now, and working to build up my social media network. If it happens again, at least this time I'll be better prepared.
Posted by: Robert M Sperry | Dec 31, 2011 8:39:31 PM
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