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Job Search? Don’t Let a Bad Attitude Screw You Up (Part 1)

A Critical Attitude toward Yourself Can Turn Other People Off

Here’s an example of bad attitude toward yourself:

I recently worked with a new job interview client—let’s call her Gina—who’s done some interesting short-term jobs, but doesn’t know what her future career should look like.

Normally, we’d spend our 1:1 session time identifying options and possibilities for her. We would explore things like,

  • What kind of work is a “good fit” (what tasks does she like and not like to do?)
  • What work environment motivates her to do her best (kind colleagues? relentless competition? lots of room to try new things? a high degree of structure?)
  • What are her non-negotiable lifestyle demands (a particular salary or title? flexible hours? tuition reimbursement?)

These are all good things to know, but Gina and I didn’t get to any of them.

Why? Because her critical attitude toward herself was such a turn-off that we spent our time addressing that.

Gina repeatedly said things like,

I’m not qualified for this job.

I don’t know what to say to them (about a particular question).

I’m not very good at (a particular task).

I don’t see why they would want to hire me.

Don’t Let Even a Mildly Bad Attitude Sneak Into Your Interview

Admittedly, Gina’s self-critical attitude is extreme. But lots of people undermine themselves in a more “subtle” way by sounding negative, or by indicating that they’re really not the best choice for a particular job.

Have you ever, for example, told an interviewer that,

I don’t meet all of the qualifications you’re looking for.

I haven’t kept up to date on (a particular skill).

I’ve never done (a particular task or function).

I guess I could learn how to do that.

Mealy-mouthed comments like these are no way to win the hearts and minds of interviewers (and you need to do that).

In fact, these “mildly” negative comments just give interviewers an excuse to eliminate you—the one thing you don’t want to do in a job interview!

To Banish a Bad Attitude, Reframe and Rephrase

If you don’t meet all of the qualifications…if you’re not as up-to-date on certain skills as you would like…or if the job involves something that’s outside your experience, there are ways to acknowledge these facts without undermining your candidacy.

The basic idea is: Maintain an upbeat, friendly, self-confident attitude, even when discussing something that you might find uncomfortable.

To do this, practice feeling like your best public speaking self (the one with the good attitude).

And, as examples of what your best public speaking self might say, here are some “corporate-speak” translations of the self-critical comments above:

Instead of saying

I don’t meet all of the qualifications you’re looking for.

Try saying:

I have the background you’re looking for, from my past jobs, and from other life experiences.

Instead of saying

I haven’t kept up to date on (a particular skill).

Try saying:

I used to be a whiz at X, and I’m looking forward to refreshing those skills.

Instead of saying

I’ve never done (a particular task or function).

Try saying:

You know, I’ve always wanted to do X. Will you provide training, or give me time to learn it on my own?

Instead of saying

I guess I could learn how to do that.

Try saying:

I’m a fast learner, and I’ll get up to speed quickly.

You get the point! If you banish your self-critical attitude, you can make the exact same points in an upbeat, enthusiastic way.

Your confidence will be persuasive, and your chance of getting a job that you want will grow!

And Remember…

The job market is particularly strong these days. Many employers are desperate to hire, and—since the pandemic has shaken so many things up—there may never be a better time to go after jobs that you’re not quite “qualified for,” but know that you could easily learn to do well.

Jobs are out there for the taking. So don’t let a bad attitude toward yourself get in your way!

Image by Johnny Cohen | Unsplash
Categories: Miscellaneous
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