What does being positive have to do with getting a job? Everything! Being positive may well influence what career you decide to pursue, your resume, your interviewing, how effectively you network, your professional persona, and ultimately whether or not you are selected for a position. Employers know that positive people are generally more productive, creative, pleasurable to work with, and easier to manage; therefore, they would naturally choose to hire someone who is positive.
What does “being positive” mean? That is not so easy to define. However, for our purposes, let’s use the following, rather simplistic, but useful definition: It is looking at the glass half full, not half empty. It is looking at the good in what is going on around us, in other people, and most importantly, in ourselves. For example, I had a difficult, unpleasant drive getting to an interview, and the interviewer asks, “How was your drive?” A negative person will focus on the heavy traffic, the crazy drivers and the lack of parking. Being positive means focusing on the fact that I got there on time, my car functioned properly, and I listened to beautiful music.
My career choice may well be influenced by the attitude that I have in two major ways. One, let’s say I really want to be an actuary, but looking through negatively-tinged lens at the energy required to prepare for the exams and the somewhat limited number of positions, I may conclude that this field is not for me, in spite of the fact that I do want to pursue this career. Two, if I do not have a positive view of my own capabilities and strengths, I may opt out of this career choice because my negative self-image precludes the possibility of my success. Either way, I may pursue something below my actual capabilities because of my negative view of myself and what the career requires.
How can my resume be affected by not being positive? The goal is to come across as strong, confident, and passionate about the job opportunity being offered. Assuming one creates his own resume, a negative person may use words that are bland and lack vibrancy, like “did” and “worked” instead of words like “successfully accomplished” and “rigorously completed” which convey a more positive, powerful side – and is more appealing to a potential employer.
In the interview process it is clear that having a positive outlook will absolutely influence your chances for a successful outcome. Most of us can sense when the person we are interviewing has a negative orientation – it is obvious by their choice of words, facial expressions, body language, etc. Most employers would not want to hire a negative person, even if they are highly intelligent and motivated. It is not an attractive energy and tends to repel others. You can practice saying all the right answers, wear the right clothes, be well-groomed, but if you do not have a sunny, positive disposition, it may well mar your chances of having a successful interview.
As we pointed out in a previous article, the secret to getting a job, especially in today’s difficult market, is to network, network and network! Have you ever been approached by someone who complains, does not have anything nice to say about others, and always finding fault with situations? If you are like most people, it takes too much emotional energy to deal with that kind of person, and we can’t wait for them to move on. A pleasant, positive person makes a much more favorable impression and others like being around her or him.
How about your “professional persona,” i.e., the way you are perceived in the world of work? A person with positive energy is someone who stands tall and erect, shoulders back, head held high (not too high), has pleasant facial expressions, smiles, walks with vigor and a sense of purpose, and projects the confidence that they can get the job done. You can feel it. Even their general health is affected by their positive attitude; they look alive, ready to make a difference and self-assured.
Over the last few years there has been a great deal of research focused on the benefits of being happy, i.e., “positively-oriented.” Conventional wisdom says, “I’ll be happy when I get a job (or get married, or make more money!”) However, the research shows clearly that just the opposite is true. “When you are happy, you will get a job (get married or make more money)!”