How To Nullify Negative Thinking, Quash Feelings Of Being Overwhelmed, And Get Hired Faster

  • Article by: KEVIN DONLIN , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: April 13, 2009 - 10:41 AM

The most brilliant job-search plan in the world won’t get you hired by itself.

You have to take action.

But before you can act, you must decide to act.

And that’s where things get tricky.

Because your mind can work for you or against you. If you can harness your thoughts and let them propel you forward, you’ll get hired faster than someone paralyzed by negative emotions.

Here’s how to smash through two mental roadblocks that slow down many job seekers …

1) How to Nullify Negative Thinking
Positive thinking is fine. I like it. I do it. But thinking only takes you to the brink of action. To get results, action is required. Specifically, positive action.

Good news: You don't have to think positively to act positively in your job search (or anywhere else). Example: You can be in a rotten mood, yet still drag your butt out the door, meet a high-school friend for a networking lunch, and walk away with a job lead.

Positive actions produce positive results, which lead to positive thinking ... which leads to more positive action. This virtuous circle begins and ends with action.

Here are examples of effective actions you can take, no matter what mood you’re in:

  • Give a recommendation to one person in your LinkedIn network. Recommendations on your online profile are like mini-testimonials -- and they’re essential. The best way to get them is to give them, which gently obligates others to recommend you back. Plan on giving at least two for every one you want in return.
  • Help one person do their job better.
    This can be as simple as emailing a link to a helpful article you read (why not this one? :-) or introducing them to someone in your network who could become their client, vendor, or partner. You should give help first before expecting it later.
  • Write a letter to someone you want to meet.
    Unlike pro athletes, most executives don’t get fan mail. Why not send a nice, well-researched letter (not an email) to an influential person in an industry where you want to work? Ask for a 10-minute informational interview, in which you will call to ask how and why they got into their line of work. Then call.
  • To benefit mind and body, combine physical and job-search activities.
    It’s hard to feel negative when you’re exercising. Example: Hit the gym with a friend and have a networking conversation. Or take a walk (with a notebook) and brainstorm ways to meet hiring managers at five of the 20 employers you want to work for.

The cure for negative thinking is to stop thinking about yourself and start acting in a way that benefits others. The best part is, even if you feel negative while taking positive action, you’ll be … taking positive action. And this can only bring you closer to your next job.

As William James said: “We do not sing because we are happy, we are happy because we sing.”

2) How to Quash Feelings of being Overwhelmed and Get Things Done
After counseling thousands of people since 1996, I can say with certainty that job seekers fall into two groups: Those who break their search into daily tasks and complete them, and those who get overwhelmed and give up.

Not surprisingly, the first group finds work significantly faster than the second.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your search, here’s a tip: One task, imperfectly executed, beats 100 good ideas left undone.

You can’t do it all today. So don’t even try.

Whether your next employment project is revising your resume or making a list of all the people in your network, don’t try to do it all at once. Break it down into manageable steps and make a start. This is how you build momentum and get things done.

Example: If you can’t think of 20 employers you want to work for, can you think of one? What’s the name of that one company? Write it down.

Now, who do you know who works there, used to work there, or might be happy working there? Call that person and ask them for the name of a similar company. Bingo. You now have two employers on your list -- and you’ve just had a networking conversation, which can lead to more.

The way to finish things is simply to start.

I’m no psychologist, but I could qualify as a bartender, in that I listen to bar-loads of unhappy people who want to unburden themselves of their job-search troubles. And over the years, I’ve learned this: When you take positive action, in spite of your emotional state, you will move steadily toward your next job -- and any goal you set.

It can be as simple as having a breakfast meeting with a neighbor who’s also in the job market, or making one phone call you’ve been dreading.

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