Change Your Attitude, Change Your Mindset, Change Your Situation
In November 2008, as former Illinois Senator Barack Hussein Obama accepted his new job as the 44th President of the United States in front of thousands of people in Chicago, Illinois, millions of unemployed people, like me, were looking for new jobs ourselves. Inspired by Obama’s determination to improve the national economy and spur domestic job growth, I was looking forward to another chance to prove myself and advance in the workplace.
In January 2013, just over four years after delivering his victory speech in Chicago, Obama took the oath of office for the second and last time. During his first term, I, and many workers who were displaced by the Great Recession, received another chance to prove ourselves and advance in the workplace. However, too many people, specifically young men, are unemployed or underemployed. This job situation among young men is unacceptable for the world’s most industrialized nation.
Although the United States is sluggishly recovering from a global economic crisis, everyone here has an opportunity to reach their maximum potential in the workplace if they shift their attitude and mindset. To achieve this end state, I offer the following advice to men looking for work or who just landed a job after a long transition period.
Communicating needs versus wants
Guys, if you lost your job, you need to find and secure another job. It is as simple as that. However, if you involve your family, friends and colleagues to assist you in the job search process, you don’t need to communicate your needs to them. Instead communicate what you want in your next job. For them to help you, be as specific as possible with them about job location, title, pay, benefits and culture. By articulating your wants to your network in a clear and cohesive way, you demonstrate confidence and clarity to them. These qualities indicate strong leadership skills that set you apart from the jobless pack in the eyes of hiring decision makers.
Feeling empowered and being powerful
As a guy, you may have a tendency to derive power from tangible things such as athleticism, sex, degrees, assets, status and cash. And you may feel that some or all of these tangible things help you date, mate and marry. When the salary lifeline is cut, these power sources start to diminish. As the unemployment period drags on, you may question your future attainments without these power sources. Without a job, will my partner stay with me? If she doesn’t, can I move on to date someone else? Am I worthy enough to be someone’s husband? Am I worthy enough to be a father? A twist in fate can overhaul the way we feel about power.
During the unemployment period, do not focus on “being powerful”. Instead empower yourself with intangible things by volunteering your time for causes important to you, spending more time with family and friends, learning new non-job related skills and reading books. By changing your attitude from being powerful to feeling empowered, you will be a better man who possesses stronger morals, values and principles. These qualities will emanate from you as you speak to hiring decision makers about job opportunities in their organizations.
Reconciling resurrected self-imposed insecurities
By communicating wants versus needs, and feeling empowered instead of being powerful, you have already improved your attitude about the job search process. The search officially ends when you receive and accept the offer letter. This is a huge sense of relief. However, the hiring decision maker, as impressed as they may be with your attitude, background and experience, may perceive you to be a risk to their business. And they can communicate this feeling in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways. It is entirely possible that some of your self-imposed insecurities will be resurrected.
If you feel the resurrection coming on, change this self-destructive mindset by adding as much value as possible and as quickly as possible to your organization. Begin to build strong and lasting relationships within your organization. Be extremely observant about your work environment and deploy your instinct to understand how the culture operates. Do not be ingratiating to the hiring decision maker about the opportunity they give you – They will see that as a sign of vulnerability. Do not ever let the hiring decision maker make you feel small or insignificant. Recognize your personal value, and confidently carry out your job duties. Most importantly, don’t ever regress in your current state. Advance in your career with your head held high.
I believe people can achieve for more personal and professional success in the United States than any other country in this world. As hard as we can fall during bad times, we stand right back up and keeping moving forward. But Obama is not going to give us his hand to help us up. We, his constituents, have to give each other a hand. And as you reach for one, please remember that you, and only you, have the control your attitude and mindset about the job search process.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons