…”The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control and which have to do with the choices I actually control.” – Epictetus

When I read this quote from this ancient Stoic, I was reminded about how much emotion, time and effort is spent by jobseekers on matters they cannot control. I constantly help jobseekers through the emotional difficulties of dealing with things they can’t control, worrying about and wringing their hands over things that are totally beyond their influence.

It’s important to remind jobseekers what they can control and ask them to focus on these issues rather than worrying about things that are beyond them. Here’s a primer:

  • Attitude… This is probably the most important issue a job seeker can control. The first step in developing a positive attitude is to be aware that it is the first thing one can control. For every one positive thing that happens in a job search, there are going to be 14 negative things. That’s just a plain fact! Constantly reinforcing a positive attitude with prayer, spiritual reinforcement, motivational reading and being around positive people makes a phenomenal difference.
  • Activity to get interviews… Probably the biggest frustration with most job seekers who are seeking a job full-time is the frustration of not being able to get interviews. They feel like if they can get the interview, they can perform well on it. It is getting the interview that is the major difficulty. If people relegate themselves to simply sending resumes to job postings, their probability of getting an interview is ridiculously slim. People have to develop a systematic approach to contacting all kinds of people in order to get interviews. (I discuss this in detail, www.jobsearchsolution.com)
  • Taking any interview they can get… Many candidates eliminate the opportunity to get an interview based on what they hear or think about the company or particular job. “I’ll talk to anybody that will listen,” has to be the mantra.
  • Massive action… Treating a job search like it was a job. There’s no such thing as a “passive” job search.
  • Interviewing well… Most job seekers focus on what they “want” in a job rather than what they can do “for” a prospective employer. They say stupid things and forget to put themselves in the shoes of the employer. They forget to “sell” themselves
  • They don’t ask for the job… I’m continually amazed when I asked candidates, “Did you ask for the job?” That they say something like, “Well, kind of… I asked what was the next step?” That is not asking for the job.
  • Lousy negotiations… Those candidates operate out of fear of loss rather than vision and again, they don’t adopt the attitude that “We’re all in this together… How can we work it out?”

As Epictetus finishes his quote, “Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own.”


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