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The insider's edge on job search & hiring™

Attitude in a “crappy job market”

I don’t believe in the idea of a job market (that’s another discussion), but the very idea that we deal with a “market” when we search for a job leads some to get depressed and dispirited. If it really is a market, then it can be crappy and if it’s crappy we have no control which leads to a sense of helplessness. And for some, the world ends.

Reader Karen Seekins shared this with me the other day. I think it’s a potent antidote to the pain a lot of people feel about their job prospects. Read it, copy it, take it home, put it on the wall, live with it and let it remind you that you are the captain of your life.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.

Charles R. Swindoll

Life doesn’t suck. But sometimes our perspective does, and it’s up to each of us to turn around and look at things the way we need to.

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14 Comments
  1. Totally agree – and I hire based almost completely on three things: Integrity, Attitude & Intelligence. If the applicant has those, the rest is easy.

  2. Your reality, the present, and the future aren’t dictated by the things around you, but by your response to them.

  3. Ray,

    you say you hire on integrity.. how do you measure that or define that or even know what is or isnt in a new candidate…. pure hogwash

  4. Ray didn’t claim to only hire on integrity. I do think that has to come into the equation. Part of the integrity issue could be to determine if a person appears to be a job hopper. I don’t mean a person who contracts, but a person who leaves jobs after a few months. In more precise terms, I’m talking about jobs that weren’t necessarily meant to be short term such as a contracting position for a specific project.

    I agree that attitude is very important and can show through during the interview and on the job. I work in education, so I definitely see both sides of the attitude coin in my coworkers. I’ll tell you without a doubt that those teachers who complain a lot outside of the classroom or who huff about “having to do so much” are never seen by their students as great or inspiring teachers. Although the students don’t hear the complaints or the huffing, the teacher seems to carry that negativity around with them, even if they don’t realize it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that great or inspiring teachers never complain about anything. It has been my experience that some in my workplace who have a negative attitude really stand out in a bad way and drag things down, which is why I’ve been soul searching for career advise. It becomes difficult to stay motivated, positive, and work around many of those types of people, and it deteriorates the workplace.

    As far as intelligence, I think that can be measured during the interview. In fact, I once took a physics class based upon those stupid interview questions people always complain about such as why does a golf ball have all of those dimples. It was taught by a professor who has since coauthored the recently popular book Gue??timation. There actually is some logic behind some of those questions. You’re not actually supposed to have a correct or canned answer. My take is that a negative or sarcastic answer might relay the idea that you aren’t willing to apply logic to unique problems that come up. These questions can be presented to see how you reason with a problem that you, most likely, have little experience with or have thought little about. Although I believe this sort of strategy wouldn’t be relevant or fair for some jobs. For an engineering job, I think they are fair game as long as it is only one question and doesn’t dominate the interview.

  5. Right on Nick! My Dad had this quote hanging in his office for many, many years. When he retired he gave it to me. I have had it hanging in office right now. It’s a fantastic thing to read when things start getting at you, be it your job, your job search, your personal life, anything.

    As a hiring manager myself, I often believe in the “Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill” philosophy. There’s not much worse than trying to train or motivate someone with a poor attitude.

  6. It’s actually fairly easy to check for integrity, if you first know what it is.

    In marketing I always look for that because I don’t want someone who is willing to do anything to make a buck, there are somethings you just should not do even if you can. I’ve run into plenty of people who say “I gotta look out for number one” that’s usually a good warning sign that you might want to test for integrity. Or another one, the ends justify the means. No they don’t, espeically if your brand is about trust (which most companies claim) then the ends do not justify the means if those means are harming your customers or partners. I agree with Ray integrity is very important. More so than skills, it’s far easier to teach someone a new skill than integrity.

  7. Your website was brought to my attention through the newest edition of “What Color is Your Parachute.” I have been involved much in sales for the past 4 years after college and I need to change my career. The problem is that I feel my employment history has been far too long over the past 4 years for a recruiter to even stomach while filtering the applications. I have had 5 full time positions in this time, and 3 part-time jobs. I had management experience for one year with one company and I desire to be a manager in customer service (probably retail). Do you have any recommendations for my success? Thank you.

  8. Sam, I’m not Nick, but I would like to offer some suggestions and ideas. First, what makes you think you’d succeed in customer service? Are there recruiting firms that handle those kinds of positions where you could schedule an interview to see if they would take your resume and get to know you a little more than what is on the two pages? Finding such a firm may be tough but it could be very worthwhile.

    Do you have any experience with a customer relationship management system? Or other trends in the customer service area? Perhaps you could find a company wanting to get more into “social media” for a company which may involve customer relationships that may differ a little from your initial request but you may want to consider if that suits you better or worse than other positions.

  9. @Sam: JB King offers some very good suggestions. (I know Ask The Headhunter is working when other readers offer great advice and insight without me flapping my lips…) Your success hinges on choosing what’s going to motivate you next. Try this: http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/halibrary.htm

    Seems corny, but it works if you work it.

    @Edward: **It’s actually fairly easy to check for integrity, if you first know what it is.** Whoo-wee. There’s a topic in itself…!

  10. Okay, Edward, I couldn’t leave this alone: http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/852/whats-integrity

    Thanks for tickling my brain with that feather!

  11. Hey no problem, I think we need to ask these basic questions instead of making assumptions about them.

  12. Edward, you’re right on, especially when terms like “integrity” get co-opted by those people who wouldn’t recognize them in practice.

  13. We can light candles on the ethics and integrity from forever, yet a growing workplace concern is more pressing to resolve …

    A report from MSNBC:
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    Full article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32919417/ns/business-careers/

    Happily, I am alive and kicking …however, the coercion and bullying — along with sexual harassment were the worst that I have ever seen in my last job (I wish that I could tell you where because it magnifies the problem and adds irony …

    Verbal abuse and bullying, I’ve seen it …with politics beyond repair. An then, it happened physical assault. I can confirm that under-reporting is a problem, because I didn’t report it.

    Reporting one incident won’t solve the greater problems that lead to the threatening behaviours — we have some things to sort out, in the country, and around the planet.

    I also agree that women bare the brunt of it in the workplace and domestically.

  14. Integrity huh? Try having your spouse go missing (now for 9 weeks) and have no idea if he is okay or not and see what YOUR attitude is!

    This is all meaningless when your husband is missing. Where were you all when my husband who had great integrity and attitude and damned hard work went looking for a job?
    Nothing! Not even a call or email back. I don’t see much integrity in human resources.

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