Attitude | Foundation 1 – Lesson 1

Go back to Job Search Prep Syllabus.

Note from Willy: We originally intended to start with an audio introduction, but Jason sent me this video and I thought that it did such a good job of capturing Jason’s personality and passion for the topic, that I had to include it.

You need a job? You have a problem… and it’s not what you think.

The question is, do you know what your problem is?

It’s not that you lack a job. It’s that there is something about you that has prevented others from engaging you. It has stopped them from calling you to ask, “Hey, want to come work here?” It’s causing them to send you dink letters instead of offer letters. You may bemoan your fate as the result of a bad economy or a “numbers game,” but that’s not entirely true. Companies are still operating, still looking to cut slack, still trying to bring in top-drawer talent. You constantly meet people… who among them is offering you work, offering to help, or asking about your interests?

If you’ve had a job, your problem is what allowed (or maybe even compelled) someone to put you on a buh-bye list. To weed you out. To ask you to pack your bags.

In short, your problem — whatever you think it is — is bigger than your lack of a job. It’s the source of your lack of job. And it stems from a “broken” attitude.

Your Attitude Is the Most Important Part of Your Job Search

Whenever I ask a group of people what they think determines whether or not someone “gets the job,” I nearly always get a list that does not include attitude. People think “attitude” is too soft. Not measurable enough. Too new-agey.

Never mind that hard-core survivalists and military personnel know that a “Positive Mental Attitude” is such an important determinant of success under pressure that they put it at the very top of their survival checklists!

So when I ask what’s most important to a job search, I might get something like this:

  • Connections
  • Industry experience
  • Job specific skills
  • Relevant education
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Solid resume
  • Well-written cover letter
  • Interviewing skills
  • Positive intentions
  • A personal life goal/vision

Right about now is generally when I tell the group that they’re full of donkey nuggets.

We all know someone who has gotten a job without one or more of the above elements. Generally, we attribute that person’s success to luck or good timing, and while it’s true that luck often plays a role, let’s give credit where credit is due. After all, “luck favors the prepared mind,” as they say.

We may lack the science to quantify attitude, but that makes the concept no less important. In fact, it is difficult to overstate the importance of cultivating the right attitude in generating success. Especially when we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you need an attitude adjustment. (Maybe not an overhaul, but definitely at least a tweak.)

Anyone who needs a job has room for improvement, even if it’s just a little. People with perfect attitudes don’t ever need jobs. They get pulled into them. They are constantly in demand, ready for opportunity whenever it strikes. If your life isn’t the perfect blend of hard work, serendipity, and nothing else, then you have room for improvement.

This is important.

You need to make sure you’ve got this part right if you’re going to be able to take full advantage of the following coursework. Your attitude is what’s going to compel you to put one proverbial foot in front of the other. We’ll give you the road map, but you’ve got to provide the forward momentum. Without forward momentum, the map is useless. You’ll have spent all this money, you’ll go through the motions of doing what we tell you, and nothing will happen.

  • If you are lazy, you won’t find opportunities.
  • If you are cowardly, you’ll talk yourself out of engaging.
  • If you are greedy, you’ll turn away your network.
  • If you are desperate, you’ll scare away job offers.
  • If you are defensive, you’ll never face down the issues holding them back.

To help you, we are going to provide the road map in manageable bites, a little at a time, and give you ample time to practice before moving on to each new step.

We are also going to ask that you…

Forget about your job search.

(Say WHAT?!)

No kidding. Forget it.

First, job searching is stressful. And although a little stress can be useful in providing focus, too much stress can make it difficult to maintain a positive attitude. For most people, watching the bills come in without knowing how they will get paid causes “too much” stress.

Second, most “job searching” skills are transactional. They are useful for a discrete — and hopefully short — amount of time, then they get discarded.  For instance, the skills needed to write a resume do not prepare you to be able to write a briefing memo or a politically astute email.

Finally, it’s difficult to get support when trying to develop job searching skills. Other job searchers won’t share their secrets if they see their skills as the source of an advantage over you for a potential job… people at the companies you are applying to won’t want to help because they would see you as asking for an unfair advantage… and friends won’t want to help (for long) because they’ll get nothing from it.

So stop. Stop stressing yourself out because you have no job. Stop developing skills that have no future value. Stop pestering people.

Start focusing on things that help you stay relaxed, that provide future value, and that draw people to want to help you. Engage in activities that improve your confidence and make you attractive to employers.  Do things today that not only get you the job, but prepare you for the job you will get.

The Job Search: A Case Study in Project Management

Instead of developing skills that you will use only when you are looking for a job, we are going to help you develop skills that will help you during your job hunt, your transition into your new job, and everyday during your career thereafter.

To us, your job search is the case study. The laboratory. The playground. It’s where you can practice and develop and experiment with critical skills without recourse. (It’s not like anyone can fire you!) It provides everything you need: ample opportunities for feedback, a good reason to meet people, an opportunity for a new beginning… scary stuff, for sure, but also exhilarating and exciting if you have the right attitude.

For these reasons, we want you to look at your job search as a case study, where the goal is to learn core project management and professional behavior skills. I’ll list the specific skills we will cover in a moment. The benefit to you of our approach is that while you expand your professional abilities, you will also develop your confidence, self-awareness, professional maturity, and your ability to achieve results… all while under extreme pressure.

In “learning parlance,” everything you are about to learn constitutes a set of “transferable skills” that can be applied across multiple areas of your life, and that make you more marketable to potential employers.

The skillz that pay the billz… for realz

There are seven core skills you need to master to get that job you want. The first is attitude. You need to bring that one, at least a little bit. Attitude cannot be learned. The other six skills can be… and thankfully, developing in these areas will help reinforce your positive attitude. These skills include:

  • Mental preparedness (to focus your efforts),
  • Creative Thinking (to find opportunities),
  • Research (to explore and prioritize opportunities),
  • Communication (to be able to switch from planning to action)
  • Selling (to  execute),
  • Confidence (to make adjustments/changes/corrections in the approach).

There is an additional core skill, too, which you will learn by going through this program, but we’re going to wait until the end to tell you what it is. If we tell you now, you won’t be able to develop it. All we can tell you is, it’s a very real skill that will help you in absolutely any job.

Homework Time

Most Found Your Career lessons will come with a relatively lengthy homework assignment because that is where a lot of your learning and progress is going to be done. In the spirt of “First Day of Classes,” today’s homework assignment isn’t lengthy, but it’s also not easy. In fact, it’s kind of hard. Watch the video below to get your homework.

If you have any questions regarding this lesson, please use the box below to ask it. If you have a private question or one that is not related to a specific lesson, you can use our Ask a Question page.

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22 responses to “Attitude | Foundation 1 – Lesson 1”

  1. josephteegardin says:

    Great start. Loved the video intro.

  2. mdabhi says:

    Your Attitude Is the Most Important Part of Your Job Search, previously I always assumed that the attitude was of least importance in any job-searching as I always belived it was my lack of experience and qualifications that would initaily get me an interview. Does attitude really take precedence over skills and qualifications as I always believed it was the reverse?

    • Jason Seiden says:

      YES! Attitude MUST come first… I’ll give you that it can sound backward: after all, if you had the right skills, then you’d have the confidence and therefore the right attitude… right?

      Wrong.

      What comes first, the happiness or the material possessions? The love or the significant other? The intelligence or the knowledge?

      Any time you have a choice between starting with something that is *internal* and something that is *external*, you have to start with the internal. You then move toward the external… the happy person seeks a “toy” to engage him… the lover seeks someone with whom to share the feeling… the intellectually curious seeks out the knowledge. And in our case, the go-getter seeks the opportunity.

      Flip it around—that is, try to work from the outside in—and you’ll see the model fall apart: the material “toys” don’t bring happiness but a competitive desire to “keep up with the Joneses”; the boy/girlfriend creates not love but infatuation and then insecurity, the learning doesn’t satisfy curiosity but brings instead a sense of obligation. (On that last point, did you read Great Expectations because you wanted to? Or did you do because you had to?

      Do you need skills for certain jobs? You bet. But with the right attitude, you’ll spot the opportunity to engage the hiring manager and say, “Hey, I know you need someone with these skills, but I think this is a good fit for reasons A, B, and C, and if we give it 90 days, I think you’ll see I’ll pick up those skills pretty quickly,” and you’ll be *believable*.

  3. annie says:

    OK, OK. Now I know that it’s attitude adjustment time if I want a change in results. Thanks for Lesson No. 1. Looking forward to the rest of the program . . . especially the last core skill.

  4. bcline24 says:

    Okay glad I came back to looking at these previous lessons. I’ve realized I’m very much like the woman from your story. I tend to err on the side of being humble, which obviously comes across as lack of confidence. I tend to get discouraged too easily I think. One bad cold call, or unreturned email, or no response on a resume and I start doubting myself. I know I can do the job, but how do I show that I can? I’ve been very successful in athletics my whole life and in that area I know I can go show what I can do. How do I show what I’m capable of and how I will help solve the companies problem?

    The attitude in your last paragraph…that’s how I feel. I feel like I can pick up anything given the opportunity, but maybe where I stumble is the A, B, and C part.

  5. Jason Seiden says:

    @bcline—your athletic background can be a huge plus… btw, no response from someone? Call early in the day or late in the day—basically, try to avoid their vm.

    In your cover letter, play up what you learned from athletics:

    “I’m used to grinding through repetitive work until I get the results I’m after.”
    “I have every reason to expect this job to be reminiscent of my rookie season… when I [insert remarkable stat here].”

    Or, if you do need to leave a vm, make a conversation that ties back to your strengths: “Hi, you’ve got my resume, and when you have a minute, I have one question about your company that I haven’t been able to answer on my own. It has to do with the culture of the organization. As an athlete, I believe team culture is critical. Do you have 10 minutes this afternoon at 2pm for a quick conversation about how your company operates and what expectations you’d have for me that don’t show up on the job description? I’ll call you back then, or please let me know an alternative time that works better. Thanks.”

  6. samanthabrie says:

    What I need to start taking control of TODAY is my well-honed ability to procrastinate combined with a large dose of perfectionism, a volatile cocktail of traits that brought much unnecessary suffering to my school days and that certainly have extended to my job search.

  7. Jason Seiden says:

    @samanthabrie In Organizing Genius, Warren Bennis lays out 14 characteristics of a great team. One of them is, “Great teams ship their products.”

    To overcome perfectionism, change your time horizon: look out further and treat everything you’re currently working on as a draft. Life is iterative…

  8. roxallen says:

    One thing I need to take control over today is figuring out what I want my career to be like.

    How do I make it fit into my whole life picture?
    How can I use it to accomplish the many things I want to in life – both in career and personal?

    I just turned 27, and I want to review where I’ve been, where my work experience has gotten me, and how to translate the rag-tag skills I’ve thrown together as an admin assistant, project coordinator, and program associate to get myself a more fulfilling job with better pay.

    • Jason Seiden says:

      Roxallen, putting your career into a broader context is a great start… as is starting to look for the unifying theme—the “story”—that ties your experiences together.

      Moving forward, know that fulfillment starts with your perspective of the world around you… the “perfect” job requires work, dedication, and a willingness to commit to something imperfect that can be turned into something better…

  9. sara8487 says:

    Time management. If I can’t find the time to look for a job then I probably don’t deserve one?

  10. Jason Seiden says:

    @sara8487 Great insight. ;)

  11. Grace says:

    I have a list of things that I need to take more control of–one of which is being on time. It drives me crazy to be late, but yet I find myself running late to almost everything–church, current job (they’re really laid back here so no one ever says anything), meeting friends, etc. I know this is an issue about my attitude toward being on time, but how is it that I hate being late, but always find myself late? Surely, being on time is a skill that employers expect. A friend whose husband is in the military says, “to be early is to be on time; to be on time is to be late and to be late is unacceptable.” I resonate with these words, but where in my attitude am I missing it that it doesn’t transfer into my actions? (My typical excuses–sharing a car with the husband and he makes me late; had trouble rallying the kids together; had to take care of that one thing that took longer than I thought.) I appreciate your raw insight–even though I anticipate that it’s going to hurt!

  12. Jason Seiden says:

    @Grace—When it comes to timeliness, there is a disconnect between what you know (small k) and what you Know (big K).

    knowing happens top of mind, in your consciousness, and encompasses what you think about.

    Knowing is deeper and is connecting to things you believe. Minute-to-minute, you don’t have access to the part of your brain that governs Knowing. You have to “think about it” for a minute before you can talk to this part of your brain. And by the way, Knowing is much more powerful than knowing. What you Know will kick the ass of what you know every day of the week.

    To change your tardiness to timeliness, you need to (1) stop thinking about being early/late. What happens in the front of your brain is irrelevant. You’ve already tried the direct approach, it’s not working, knowing you you should be on time isn’t helping you, move on. (2) You need to get into your head. There is a Reason you are late. Somewhere, your mind Knows (or at least Thinks) that being late is OK. This isn’t a behavior thing, this is a psychology thing… you literally need to shift your perspective and retrain your mind to Think about lateness differently.

    Barring that, your only other remedy is to engage in new rituals that get you to where you need to be on time (early) every minute of every day for 30 days straight, holding yourself strictly accountable until the new behaviors are second nature.

    Personally, I find the self-directed psychological warfare to be easier.

  13. Grace says:

    Wow. What an epiphany for me. This applies to so much other than the tardiness I’ve struggled with. Thanks! 30 day remedy starts now…

  14. m.pistorio says:

    FYC Team,
    I am so so motivated for the next few weeks (and of course, thereafter!!).
    Thanks for providing the inspiration.
    I’ll be telling my friends about this program.

    Best, MP
    Michael Pistorio: A Case Study in Attitude Adjustment
    Day One: A Look in the Mirror

  15. ebilly says:

    useful advice not just for the job search, but for life in general. thank you.

  16. emilyjdean says:

    This is the nice kick in the pants most recent grads need. We happen to be walking into an ever-changing corporate/digital landscape. Whatever skills we learn will then quickly be replaced by something bigger and better we will have to master. I truly believe the number one quality employers look for is attitude because without it, we just can’t keep up.

    Thanks for this and I will be looking forward to day 2!

  17. hobbsfarm says:

    I started this course as a rookie Career Services Advisor at a small community college – planning on passing on these truths to my graduates and students. However, it looks like I will be personally benefitting on the way. Thank you! I’m looking forward to the rest of this course! I can attest personally to attitude getting the job. As a stay-at-home mom for the past twenty years it HAD to have been my attitude that landed me this amazing position. I wholeheartedly believe it’s a perfect fit :-)

  18. giovanni d says:

    i agree with what you said about having attitude. i went to an interview for a job and didn’t really have the ATTITUDE to get pass the HR interview. i got bumm out since i meet most of the qualifications but didn’t get to the second interview with the department manager. i have an interview this week and for sure will have a positive and can do attitude. thanks

  19. Joanne Giarrusso says:

    What if what makes you happy does not translate into an entry level position. I love anthropology and researching and I haven’t found any positions that suit my interests. What do you do then?

  20. Joanne Giarrusso says:

    Also, how can I safely talk about graduate school without causing disinterest. I am afraid that if I don’t mention it I will be lying to them about my plans and my commitments.

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