Job Hunt: Check Your Mindset

If you're pounding the pavement for a job, consider your outlook as well as your credentials.

Your Goals

Happy, confident people find more jobs, but the rest of us can copy their helpful habits, says researcher Alan Saks at the University of Toronto. Positive thinkers develop a clear set of objectives, laying out in detail the kind of post they want and when they want it by. "That clarity energizes and focuses their job search," Saks says, which results in more and better-fitting job offers.

Your Strategy

People who hunt exhaustively for the best, be it T-shirt or career, beat those who aim for a merely acceptable option, earning 20-percent higher starting salaries. However, these so-called "maximizers" feel less content with their finds, and they're more anxious while searching. The same factors that lead to monetary success, such as extensive research, may fixate attention on the roads not taken.

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Your Referrals

Nepotism may not pay. Contrary to popular belief, people are less likely to find a job when they skip the classifieds in favor of friends and family. And a job landed through a personal connection may come with a lower starting salary, especially in blue-collar occupations. On the upside, a tip from a former boss or coworker results in higher pay, perhaps because they can attest to your performance.

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