Attitude: The Missing Ingredient

Go back to Job Search Prep Syllabus.

What do you think is the single most important element of getting a job?

Right, attitude.

So—huh? What? Did you say “résumé ?”

You think the résumé  is the most important part of getting a job?

Oh, I see…

OK, let’s back up.

All the way to the beginning.

Getting a job vs. looking for a job.

Right now, here at the very beginning, you need to make a decision: are you interested in looking for a job, or getting one? This is important because these are very different things.

The job search follows a clear process:

  1. You find an opportunity by searching information organizations make available about open positions.
  2. You apply for the open position by submitting a cover letter and résumé .
  3. If you make the cut, You go through one or more interviews.
  4. If you make the cut, You receive an offer, and maybe negotiate it.
  5. If you make the cut, You accept the offer.
  6. If no one gets cold feet, You start work.

This is the job search process. Getting a job through this process is a happy accident, not a forgone conclusion. And in this process, the résumé  gets top billing, because it’s the wedge you use to try to get yourself in the door.

The job getting process looks different. For one thing, the job getting process is non-linear. That right there is going to scare the pants off a lot of people who like their worlds nice and orderly. For another thing, in the job getting process, your résumé —along with all your other materials—are merely representations of the product you’re selling, to be used like any glossy “marketing collateral.” That is to say, they should be used only if necessary to capture someone’s attention, and dismissed as quickly as possible in favor of a discussion of the real goods, a.k.a., YOU. Here, at a high level, is what the job getting process looks like:

  1. A connection is made between yourself and someone at a company.
  2. Someone—either you or your connection—takes the initiative to inquire about needs.
  3. Both sides are open enough to share enough information to get both sides to realize that further, more directed talks would be a good idea, but not so much information that either side looks desperate or naïve.
  4. During subsequent conversations, needs and wants are more clearly articulated. Someone—either you or your connection—identify what the relationship should be, and figure out who needs to be involved to make a decision. (If you’re thinking this sounds like a waste of time—you want a job, and the decision makers are the hiring manager and HR, then you’re forgetting something: this is a non-linear process! You could be looking at a consulting arrangement or project work, or maybe you’re not a good fit for the organization but the person you’re talking to knows of another job at another company that you’d be perfect for.) It is somewhere during this step when the résumé  is presented.
  5. Work begins. You start to do something of value for your connection: a bit of research, bringing a potential deal to the table, writing a piece of code you think could solve a problem for them… something.
  6. A deal is negotiated.
  7. Formal work begins.

It doesn’t matter what level you are. It doesn’t matter how old you are. This is the job getting process. Applicant tracking systems, résumé /cover letters, phone screens, etc., are all tools to help organizations streamline their role in this process. These are tools organizations need because they often have scores of people trying to engage them in this process at the same time, and they need some way to manage the resulting chaos.

But make no mistake: this is the process of job getting.

If you hold the attitude of job getting in your head, you will be far more likely to be successful in how you network, how you putt together a résumé , how you write that email. You will be better prepared to interpret unclear feedback, respond to unanticipated objections, and work around roadblocks. You will project an attitude of success that will differentiate you from others who project desperation. And best of all, you will be focused on the desired result instead of the process—which, by the way, is exactly the mindset your prospective employer is looking for.

For these reasons, in this course, we start with your attitude… with what’s going on “upstairs.” Once your head is in the right place, then we circle back to the critical skills you need to get a job. Not résumé  writing—that’s not a skill, that’s an application of a skill—but real skills, including creative thinking, research, communication, and sales—oh yeah, and one more skill that you won’t realize that you’ve learned until after you’ve completed the course.


(1) Sign up for the rest of the program. (2) Get out there and get that job!

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2 responses to “Attitude: The Missing Ingredient”

  1. Sarah Herrmann says:

    can i just say, you are HILARIOUS. i love your no-bs, straight to the point advice. as a recent college grad, i greatly value and appreciate your insight. soo thank you!

  2. Beverly Lorig says:

    Agree: Attitude is THE essential.
    If you don’t have it, don’t waste your time. Come back when you have the attitude and then process can begin.

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