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A Good Attitude is Critical for Older Job Candidates

By Deborah Brown-Volkman

Still looking for a job? Do you think it's because of your age? Maybe the number of years you have been on the planet is fine, and what you're lacking is a good perspective.

The best thing about getting older is the knowledge and experience you have. You're at a point in your career where you know yourself well and can make good decisions. But perhaps the steps you've used in the past to find a new job aren't working. In your mind, this may mean you can't land a new position because of your age. Why not put that negative energy to better use?

As a career coach, I work with clients who are looking for work or who want to keep their heads above water in their current positions. The individuals who succeed and get ahead (and get the jobs they want) believe what they want is possible. Those who are still looking or brooding about not getting more money or a promotion believe that what they have now is as good as it gets.

We're attracted to positive attitudes. Which leaders are we drawn to? Those with charisma. Movie stars? Those with presence. Age is never the determining factor for whether or not we like them.

A Realistic Perspective Helps

In many areas, the job market is coming back, and new opportunities are being created. Your work life will likely span 30 to 50 years. Viewed in this context, the time you're out of work is actually quite short. Eventually, it will pass and become a small piece of a bigger picture. It may help you to keep this in perspective.

I speak with many unemployed executives who do get jobs. They have all told me that if they knew during their unemployment what they know now -- that they would get another job and everything would work out -- they would have been nicer to themselves during their job searches. In life, things do work out in one form or another, so you might as well make the bumps as pleasant as possible.

A good attitude is critical to your job search, and it can't be faked. You either have it or you don't. The good news is if you don't have it, you can get it by taking these steps:

1. Take charge of your attitude.

If your attitude is poor, and you want to change it, you can. Emphasis is on the word "want." You got where you are in your career by saying "I want."

Examples are: "I want to run the department," "I want to work for this company," "I want a promotion," or "I want to make more money." You can improve your attitude by saying "I want a good attitude." A bad attitude isn't something you're stuck with. It's something you can choose to change.

2. Let go of what doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter what you did or didn't do in your last position or last interview, on your last resume, or during your last interaction with a recruiter. In all likelihood, you didn't fail, and you have no reason to feel guilty for anything you have done up to this point. If you did fail in some way, learn from your mistakes and put your new knowledge to work for you. Focus on the positive, and you'll find the positive. If you let the little things drag you down (especially things you can't do anything about), you'll take yourself out of the game before it begins.

3. Spend time with you.

When you were employed and working hard, you probably said to yourself (and others) that you needed a break. Well, now you have one. Use this time wisely on you. This doesn't mean stop your job search and take an extended vacation. It means to take time out for you. Do things with family and friends. Go to the gym, work out, meditate or read. These activities will put you into the frame of mind you need to maintain momentum and focus in your job search.

Attitude is crucial to getting a job. You wouldn't be invited to interview unless your potential boss or recruiter thought you could do the job. They've read your resume and consider you qualified. What they now want to see is a good attitude. Are you a positive person? Can they work with you every day? Do you have passion and a hunger to be there? Attitude consists of these things, and you can get your winning attitude back.

-- Ms. Brown-Volkman is president of Surpass Your Dreams Inc. , a career and mentor coaching company, and author of "Coach Yourself To A New Career: A Book To Discover Your Ultimate Profession."

From CareerJournal November 2004