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Self-Defeating Attitudes Will Stop Your Job Search Cold

Self-Defeating Attitudes Will Stop Your Job Search Cold

Your attitude could be killing your job search right now.

Sometimes, a job seeker's mind-set, especially if you've been searching for a while, can be a deal breaker in the eyes of employers. Here are four common examples taken from the Career Planning for College Students message board as well as some tips on how to overcome them.


From the Message Board: "I went to school for four years, and I think I deserve a good job."

What to Do? Think about what the word "deserve" really means. The definition breaks down into two parts:

  • You did or accomplished something that should be rewarded.
  • There's someone out there who agrees and is willing to reward you.

You need to come to terms with the second part of the definition. Yes, you've accomplished something by earning your degree and gaining skills and experience through internships or part-time jobs. But a prospective employer will ask, "So what? How are you any different from the millions of other people who have done the same thing?"

Employers are not interested in who deserves the job, but rather who is best for the position. Is this fair? You bet it is. It's a basic reality in the workplace, which means the longer you hang on to the "I deserve a job" attitude, the longer you'll go without a place to work.

Lack of Focus

From the Message Board: "I have no idea what I really want to do with my life after I graduate or any specific place I want to go. I am open to anything."

What to Do? You might believe that employers would love to hire a person who is willing to do almost anything that needs to be done. You would be wrong. Most employers view the flexible new college grad as someone who is simply unfocused and directionless, and thus a high-risk hire.

If you've fallen into the "I'll do anything" trap, you need to switch gears and work toward developing focus and specific job goals. This isn't easy or quick in many cases, but it is doable. Get help from knowledgeable resources: campus career counselors, professors and people working in fields that interest you.

Why Won't Employers Give Me a Chance?

From the Message Board: "I feel basically devalued by employers and like people aren't willing to give me a chance," and "How am I supposed to get experience when nobody will give me a chance?"

What to Do? To overcome the give me a chance" attitude, you need to teach yourself to think like an employer, someone who pays money to someone else to perform a certain job.

As the employer, are you concerned about giving chances to people? Of course not. You're concerned with meeting your needs and those of the business or organization. An employer's main concern when interviewing prospective employees will always be: What can you do for me and my company?

Start thinking like an employer, and you'll understand why this attitude makes no sense in the eyes of the person doing the hiring.

Anger and Despair

From the Message Board: "I just feel my life has been a total waste, and I have no sense of direction. Some days it's just damn hard to keep fighting and trying to make something of myself and actually find a job where my degree comes in handy."

What to Do? If you've been looking for a job without success, it's reasonable that you might feel down. But if you don't deal with the problem, you'll likely continue experiencing -- and feeling -- defeat.

Get some help from a counselor, a therapist or another professional who can help you regain your perspective. Of all the self-defeating attitudes described here, this one is the most poisonous -- to your career and your life in general. You need to deal with this, along with any of the rest of these toxic mind-sets, to give yourself the best chance of landing the job you really want.

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