LESSON 1: Attitude – Keeping an Even KEEL

Keeping an Even KEEL

The first and most important step you can take on your job search journey is to get your mind to a good place. You can have a fantastic resume and an unbelievable network of contacts. You may even be in a field that is hot, with plenty of competition among employers for talent. None of these matters if fear, low self-esteem, bitterness, impatience, and a host of other negative feelings cloud your attitude. These feelings will manifest themselves at low activity levels and through ineffective interactions with your network or employers. They will only sabotage you from getting a better job faster.


While a healthy attitude is the first step in your journey, you will need it with you during the entire process. Think of it like the keel on a sailboat. Without the keel, a sailboat would capsize pretty easily as the winds and currents cause it to lean this way and then that way. A healthy attitude, like the keel, increases stability, something you will need over your entire journey to smooth out the ride. The lows can be terrifyingly low, and the highs can be deceptively high, so balancing them will keep your job search on course and your head above water.


There is a lot of disappointment on this journey.


  • Maybe you applied online for dozens of open positions and never received a response to your application.
  • Maybe you spoke with recruiters who said you were the perfect candidate and then they never called you back.
  • Maybe your semi-random networking doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
  • Maybe you’ve been a finalist several times and you’re consistently the second-place candidate.

If you’re reading this right now and nodding your head and thinking, that’s me, you’re in good company, because that’s pretty much everybody!


So, what’s the key to getting to a better mental place? Overcoming Fear, Confusion, and Bitterness.


Fear is an emotion primarily grounded in the nagging thought that this is not going to end well for me. We play negative tapes like, “I’m too old (or too young),” “I don’t have the right skills employers want,” or “if my last employer didn’t need me why would anyone else,” etc.


Amplified fear accompanied by a strong sense of urgency results in Panic. Panicking can lead to total paralysis in some cases or making some extremely poor choices in others.


If you are feeling this way now, please slow down a little and don’t make any big decisions. In Lessons 4 and 5, we are going to see how you can recapture your mojo by knowing what you’re great at and how to talk about it in a way that doesn’t sound like bragging. You will move from paralyzed to energized.


Confusion is a mental state rooted in not knowing what to do. You could have all the motivation in the world but if you’re unclear on the process and steps you should (and shouldn’t) take, you can waste time and energy on things that aren’t going to help you get a better job faster. Having a map of how to get from Point A to Point B is absolutely vital to minimizing the time you’re in job transition.


Later modules in this course will be your guide so you will know how to organize and execute your job search. We will replace confusion with clarity and confidence.


Bitterness is perhaps the most insidious of these three characteristics. We credit Nelson Mandela with wisely observing that, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for your enemy to die.”


When we’re angry, or bitter, we are saying to ourselves we are justified in feeling how we do. Others treated us unfairly and if people knew how badly we got screwed, they’d understand. We waste time explaining to people what happened, and how someone wronged us. We stay stuck in a mental place that isn’t healthy.


As Nelson Mandela said, the only person you’re hurting is yourself. If you need to vent, grieve, cry–whatever it is you need to do, do it. Just do it BEFORE you start meeting with other people. Letting go of the past and focusing on what’s in front of you is the only route to take.

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Let’s pause for a few minutes and do an honest assessment of your mental state coming into this course.

  • How long have you been looking for a new role?
  • What do you feel is the dominant emotion you have been feeling recently?
  • What do you feel when you are meeting new people and telling them you’re looking for a new job?
  • What do you think has gone well in your search so far?
  • What do you think you could be improve?
  • Are you projecting confidence on others?
  • Are you discouraged or excited about what might be next for you in your career?