Top Tips for Job Hunters: Start with the Right Frame of Mind

Fearless job hunting tips to get a great job.

Posted May 21, 2010

When you are out of work your full-time job is to get reemployed. Here are 11 steps to take as you go forward in your fearless job hunting search :

  • Get into the right job-search frame of mind.
  • Find a job that is right for you.
  • Pursue your career with passionate purpose.
  • Pressure proof yourself against the stresses of a search.
  • Create an organized and pleasant job-search environment.
  • Craft an attention grabbing resume.
  • Stay upbeat as you pursue your dream job.
  • Find and use network resources effectively.
  • Use powerful psychological methods to Interview with skill and get hired.
  • Access an evolving job-search resource center.

Let's start with the numbers game, getting into the right job-search frame of mind, cut procrastination from your search, and get into a positive job hunting path.

A Numbers Game

A successful job search is a numbers game. When job opportunities shrink in absolute number, by playing the numbers game you push the odds in your favor. In a nutshell, the more opportunities you create for yourself the more likely you'll get back to work sooner. To start:

  • At the end of each day set up a daily work plan that lays out tomorrow's job-search tasks.
  • Follow your daily work plan as if this was your regular full-time job.
  • Create standards you can meet, such as researching five possible job opportunities each day-weekends included! (At the end of a year you'd have examined 1825 separate opportunities. The odds favor that you'll have a job before you exhaust these possibilities.)
  • Remind yourself of two old sayings, "don't bite off more than you can chew" and "slow and steady wins the race."

Here is a three stage formula for job-search-success: Use both proven and innovative job-search techniques. Put the "pedal to the metal." Persist while others procrastinate. Follow this formula and you give yourself a whopping advantage. However, the way you go about applying the formula makes the difference. Realistic optimism is a headlight to illuminate that path. Procrastination can get in the way, but you can get past this barrier and stay on a fearless job hunter path.

Follow the Path of the Realistic Optimist

Psychologist Connie Wamberg and her colleagues isolated two factors associated with job-search success: (1) have a positive self-evaluation, and (2) preparation. Preparation comes into play when you gear up and create an impactful resume, research potential organizations, network, prepare for interviews, and have an array of tested psychological techniques in your job-search tool kit that you can ably apply.

The "devil is in the details." How do you develop and keep a positive self-evaluation? Does realistic optimism help?

Optimism is a state of mind where you are hopeful that things will turn out well. However, optimism is an illusion when you have no control over an outcome. A false optimism supports procrastination when you sit on your hands and wait for something good to happen. Is there an alternative to illusions of optimism?

Realistic optimism is different. This is a perspective grounded in reality, or what is. You filter experience through seeing opportunities and challenges but also know a threat or danger when you see one. You're motivated to prevail, but also to try a different way when you see a dead-end. As a realistic optimist, you know when you are up against an immovable wall and when you can do something to tip a balance in your favor. You accept the value of building upon your positive attributes as you reduce those negatives in your life that you can control.

Believe that you can apply your talents and learn new ways to advance on a job-search path, and you are operating with realistic optimism. Now, productively organize, regulate and direct your actions to get to your job-search destination.

It's not all up to you. In a future blog I'll get into building social support groups and networking.

If you wait by the wayside for a good break, you are procrastinating. However, you live in a serendipity world with happy accidents. The French chemist, Louis Pasteur, who discovered the germ cause of disease, tells us that "in the field of observation, chance only favors the prepared mind." When you've done your job-search homework, you may get a job that is before the eyes of others that they don't see.

Here is an analogy that supports a realistically optimistic perspective. If you go to a new lake and want to catch fish, you'll do better if you talk to the "locals," learn where the fish are, and find the natural bate for the region. You are then likely to go to where the fish are. However, sometimes the fish won't bite. You may have to try again at another time or in a different way. You may also see something in the lake's topography that others don't see, and you have a fishing bonanza. That's serendipity.

Cut Procrastination Thinking from Your Job-Search Picture

In a down job market you may quit searching because you generalize that the job market is bleak and nothing will come from a search. This form of procrastination thinking makes quitting seem easy. The job market may be tight. But you can still find opportunities to get a great job, but the search may take longer.

Procrastination thinking interferes with a job search in other ways. You spend your time reading want ads because this is easy and non-threatening. You tell yourself you lack job search knowledge and skills and must wait until you learn more about how to get them. This is contingency manaña procrastination thinking. You tell yourself that you'll continue to receive unemployment benefits so there is no rush to go on a job-search now (Who are you trying to fool?). When you snag yourself with these forms of procrastination thinking you create a self-fulfilling prophesy for yourself.

Debunking procrastination thinking starts with awareness followed by enlightened self-questioning and action. Use Albert Ellis' where is the evidence technique to substitute realistic optimism for procrastination thinking. Here are three examples: (1) where is the evidence that engaging in a low yield job-search activity (reading want ads) will speed your job search? (2) Where is the proof, that waiting to learn about job skills, creates the job skills you think you lack? (3) Where is the evidence that waiting until you run out of benefits will speed your next job search? Your answers to these questions can give you a realistic perspective to shed an underlying illusion of pessimism that often flows below the surface of procrastination.

If you find yourself tied to a procrastination turnstile getting nowhere fast, see End Procrastination Now (Knaus, 2010. McGraw-Hill).

Get on a Fearless Job Hunting Path

 A fearless job hunter's path is grounded with realistic optimism. When you set your GPS to follow this job-search path, you learn to correct consistent errors that impede your search as you build on your strengths. You build velocity into your job-search when you take productive actions toward reaching your job-search destination. That is where you get your payoff.

I wrote Fearless Job Hunting (2010, New Harbinger) with Drs Sam Klarreich, Russ Grieger, and Nancy Knaus. We put our heads together to give you more than the the nuts and bolts of a job search. We share how to apply psychology to power your search and get a great job. (This added feature differentiates this book from other job search books). You meet each in this series. They'll share some of their best ideas on the art and science of getting a job in tough times.

If you want to know more about the book, check it out at:

Dr.Bill Knaus