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Leave your Attitude at Home – Making the Best of Your Executive Job Search

by Kim on August 26, 2015

It’s been said that losing a job and/or embarking on a new job search is one of the most stressful experiences in life; if you’ve been through it, or are facing it now, you will likely agree. Even if the search is something you’ve planned, vs. having to go through one in order to become gainfully employed again, your attitude is key in everything you do despite how hard it can be to remain upbeat and positive after weeks of job searching with no luck.

Even if you have a stellar history of producing results, solving problems, increasing revenue, launching new products, etc., you have to remember that people really don’t know you yet, despite the fact that your executive resume clearly highlights you’re career-long history of contributions.

The problem arises when your attitude skews more toward cocky vs. confident or heads the other way down the road of dejection, frustration or entitlement; both scenarios can be difficult to hide when your job search is prolonged and you can’t figure out why.

I’ve worked with thousands of highly-qualified executive candidates over the past twenty years, and some of the most accomplished executives can find themselves struggling through a job search without knowing why, even when armed with compelling executive resumes and cover letters. While these documents help get them in the door, many fail to close the deal so to speak, as their attitude is getting in the way or they themselves, can’t get out of their own way.

One of the most frequent “complaints” I hear is “How can they not want me? Look at all I’ve done?” Unfortunately, that attitude may translate as not really being interested in how you can move forward or worse, living in the past. Interviewers need to see excitement about new opportunities and want to hear your ideas about how you can make positive changes once you’re hired. While it’s important to show confident leadership, you also have to demonstrate energy and enthusiasm for new challenges.

Another obstacle to a search is the “entitled” mindset that can be sensed the moment you walk through the door. Just because you were loved at your last job and lauded as one of the company’s key performers, this doesn’t automatically make you “qualified” for a new role. Nobody knows you yet so you can’t assume that a perfect record makes you the ideal candidate. It’s sometimes a bitter pill to swallow, especially if you’ve spent the last 10 years surrounded by adoring workplace fans. If you can’t get over this fact, it will be apparent in your body language and could be a turnoff. I worked with a client once who was adamant that everyone he was meeting with was “stupid,” because he just wasn’t getting asked back, even though he had a lot of first interviews. Unfortunately, that type of attitude shows, and it took him a while to understand that he was not entitled to be “liked” immediately without some work on his part.

If your search has dragged on a for a while, and you see any of these traits in yourself, you might be wise to just take a step back and stop the search for a while as you adjust your attitude and start over after some deep self-assessment. Sometimes taking that step back can be a huge step in the right direction once you understand how your own attitude can help or hinder your job search.

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