Optimistic Thinking Can Be a Job Seeker’s Greatest Weapon

Posted June 10, 2014 by
Ken Sundheim

Ken Sundheim, Chief Executive Officer at KAS Placement

Searching for a job is much like your career.  If you feel that you can do something and clearly envision success, you are much more likely to achieve that objective.  Conversely, if you believe you cannot attain certain goals, you are less apt to put 100% focus and preparation into the tasks it takes to reach those desires.

It’s no secret that most successful job seekers are the ones who know where they want to be, are confident in their abilities and show personal control and discipline during the employment search.  Overall, their view of the world is one that can be described as optimistic.

On the flip side, the applicants who suffer the most defeat are those who feel they have no impact on what happens to them (i.e., outside forces will shape their destiny).  These individuals end up getting fatigued at the first sight of adversity and end up achieving less.  They are more prone to settling for a job and can be characterized as pessimistic thinkers.

Therefore, if much of your success in searching for a position hinges on the way you think about the process, it’s important to analyze the optimistic vs. pessimistic job seeking habits and determine what you can do to adjust your thought process and ambition level into a more upwardly aiming direction.

Here is some help from our executive sales recruiting team.

What Determines a Pessimist or Optimist in Job Searches?

It’s not how someone handles success that makes them an optimistic or pessimistic thinker.  Rather, it’s how they approach setbacks.  Studies have shown that pessimistic thinkers categorize problems as permanent, pervasive and personal.

For instance, if they don’t get the offer they want, pessimistic job seekers feel that the rejection is going to undermine everything they do, that their job search is going to be permanent and that the perceived failure is somehow aimed very personally at them, rather than happening for pretty cut-and-dried reasons, which is nearly always the case.

The Benefits of Having an Optimistic Outlook on Your Career

Optimistic job seekers tend to get paid more, end up in better companies, enjoy heightened energy levels  and more fulfilling professional relationships.  They have more self control and work at an increased pace.  When an optimistic applicant doesn’t get called in for a job, they take the rejection as a challenge and work harder.

Optimistic employment seekers also gain the ability to look inward and make career choices based upon knowledge of their own needs and desires.  To find your purpose, you must know who you are and what you stand you for, as well as what you enjoy.

In order to set a firm career path, it’s imperative to become familiar with what you are most passionate about. Optimists do this much more effectively than pessimistic thinkers.  Moreover, they enjoy the following:

– Heightened level of achievement.

– Better health.

– Fewer infectious diseases.

– Longer, happier life (as well as career).

Changing Your Way of Thinking

Luckily, basic pessimism is not the end of the world.  While optimism skills take practice to acquire for many people, regardless of age, it is possible to shift your way of thinking to tilt the odds of success in your favor.

Try doing the following:

– Start explaining bad events (e.g. no responses to your resume) as temporary, non-personal and solvable.

– Think of failures taking you one step closer to the solution.

– Stop using the phrases “always” and “never” and replace them with temporary phrases (e.g., “employers never answer my emails” vs. “employers are not answering my emails at the moment”).

– Stop thinking about failure and envision success in each situation and the benefits it will bring.

In the End

Searching for a position is a combination of frequency and accuracy.  Essentially, it comes down to how many jobs can you correctly apply to (i.e. tailoring and cover letter according to a job description) and how many of those can you convert into a job offer.

When you get into the habit of optimistic thinking, you increase your odds of focusing on the right actions to increase that accuracy, thus making yourself feel more confident, thus increasing the energy you put toward your job search and likely increasing the frequency with which you reach out to potential employers, thus increasing your rate of response… It’s a beneficial circle rather than a vicious one.


Ken Sundheim is a writer for Forbes, LinkedIn, Business Insider and College Recruiter.  He is the CEO of KAS Placement  sales recruitment, an executive search firm based out of New York City. 

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