by Nena Schvaneveldt, former Head Editor, INALJ Utah
previously published 4/2/13
5 Attitudes to Change on the Job Hunt
Last month, I wrote about how changing my attitude and viewing my circumstances as choices really made me feel a lot less helpless. The line between a good attitude and a bad attitude can be really thin sometimes, but here are some bad attitudes I’ve had to change in myself:
1. You know what I went through for this? I deserve a job!
Entitlement is a huge problem, and I can understand where my own sense of entitlement had come from. School is hard, and I wanted a nice job as a reward for all that hard work. Then there’s paying your dues – but even that makes it sound like once you’ve unjammed the copier a certain number of times, you deserve an office. This can be a hard one to check, but I feel best when I’m focused on working hard to make a difference where I am, even if it’s not where I thought I’d be.
2. I’ll take anything! Anywhere! Please, just give me a chance!!!
Desperation is another understandable reaction to the reality of the job market. It’s understandable, but it comes across in cover letters and interviews. It can also motivate you into finding a job that isn’t a match for your skills and interests, which could be annoying at best, or tormentous at worst. Flexibility is willingness to be open to different locations or different jobs, but make sure that you can make a good case for why you’re applying to a particular job in a particular organization at a particular place. I had to be flexible in my own job search. My coursework focused on youth services and public libraries, but I’m working in an academic library. You know what I’ve found I like about it? Public service. I like being on the front lines. Public service is a lot broader than my initial focus, and I’ve looked at different opportunities because of it. That said, I still have had moments of desperation, but I express them to people I trust in private until I can refocus myself in a positive way.
3. They didn’t hire me? They’re jerks! And the person that they hired probably sucks!
Being rejected sucks, and it’s normal to feel hurt when it happens. Lashing out in anger doesn’t accomplish much beyond initial catharsis. The more information professionals I meet, the more ridiculous it is to believe that jobs I don’t get will be filled by people who shouldn’t be there. Reaching out and kindly thanking the company for the time to meet with you is hard, but what’s the worst that could happen? The company blacklists you for being classy? You never hear back? Taking a chance to build a bridge instead of burning it can pay off – either with a future job offer or a new contact or friend. If it doesn’t, at least you can feel a sense of closure and doing the right thing, even when it’s hard.
4. When is it going to be my turn?
I think this attitude comes from thinking of the job market and applicants like a deli line where we take numbers and are served in turn. While it would be nice for all of us to get a turn, I am so glad we don’t all get one chance at a job. We’re human, and we will mess up. It’s not fair that certain people seem to get a break sooner or more often than others, but patience will pay off.
5. I can’t do that – it’s too scary.
One of my favorite sayings is “learning is changing what we do” (B.F. Skinner). Change is scary, and learning new skills can be frustrating, time-consuming, and difficult. As I examined my own attitudes, I realized that this one is still holding me back. This year, I’m looking at doing some things that scare me. Maybe I’ll go to a conference, learn a skill that I thought was “too hard,” or push myself to network more. I’ll write about it more in upcoming months.