Avoid Negative Thoughts When Job Hunting

Get tips on how to approach your job search with positive energy.

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I have a friend who has been job hunting for a few months. "I don't have much trouble getting interviews but nothing happens from there," she said. "I'm not sure what's going on."

This particular friend is a downer. Nothing ever works in her favor. Nothing is ever just right. Accordingly, her low-level thoughts about herself and the world create a low-level energy that's very obvious to others—including potential employers.

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When I asked what she's thinking as she heads into a typical interview, her response was very telling. With a shrug, she said, "I'm thinking I probably won't hear back this time either."

That's the spirit! (Not.)

We all know these are extremely stressful times. Unemployment is still high. Depression and obesity are rampant. So if you're on a "career treadmill" where you're applying for jobs and not getting anywhere, here are a few tips to center yourself and approach your search with the positive energy that could make all the difference.

1. Forgive yourself: What's in the past is in the past. Let it go. Employers who didn't call back. Mistakes. Things you wish you would have said in interviews. You can't change it, so don't dwell on it. Just turn the page.

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2. Catch (and release) negative thoughts: A key to training your mind to think positively is recognizing when you're thinking negatively in the first place. Some of you have been mentally beating yourselves up for so long that it's what feels natural. The trick here is not to force feed affirmations of self-love—although if that's helpful to you, go for it.

A better plan is to catch yourself thinking negatively so you can get to the root of the problem. So when you find yourself thinking, "I'll never find a job" or "I'm not good enough for…," stop and acknowledge the thought, but replace it by thinking, "That is not the thought I want. Love didn't create it." At first, this will require moment-by-moment self-monitoring, but over time it will get easier.

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3. Choose your response: My favorite line in Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is that in between stimulus and response there is a space—and it's in that space we choose how we wish to respond. Impressing employers isn't about having every interview answer perfect or being great on paper. It's about being someone they want to represent their company.

In short, it's about confidence. And the more you start replacing negative energy with a positive outlook, the more you'll start acting with confidence.

This process doesn't happen overnight, so you'll have moments of doubt and frustration. But you'll also recognize, again over time, that you have a choice in your response.

Will you go down the same road of self-loathing or will you choose to take action you can be proud of? That's up to you of course, but if you're like my job-seeking friend and feel "stuck in a rut," remember: Nothing in your life will change until you do.