Job Searching with Positive Outcomes


It is often hard to keep a level head during the job search process; however, those that can do so fare better than those that don’t. Failing to keep your equilibrium can set you up for an emotional roller coaster.

In the childhood story of Chicken Little, a hen is hit on the head by an acorn falling from the sky. Thinking the worst, she jumps to the conclusion that the sky is falling. Her premise is quickly confirmed by the other farm yard animals leading to hysteria.

Optimistic people are generally perceived to be more productive and able. They are also more fun to be around. This second factor should not be underestimated in importance, since a hiring manager and new hire will typically spend extensive amounts of time together during training and orientation sessions. Additionally, people who see a silver lining behind every storm cloud are also more likely to weather rejections by potential employers better than those with a negative outlook.

In today’s economic climate, it is easy to believe that the sky is falling; however, leading and lag indicators for the chemical enterprise remain positive. The unemployment rate for chemists in 2007 was at the lowest level since 2001 at 2.4%. In a telephone call with Rich Pennock of Kelly Scientific Resources he stated, “The demand for chemists and biochemists has remained steady in the U.S. for the past 24 months.” This is significant, because staffing agencies are usually the first to see increases or decreases in employment requests as a result of economic drivers. Multinational chemical companies with global operations are also performing well in today’s dubious markets; although it should be noted that primarily domestic companies are experiencing significant downturns in stock prices.

No one really knows what the coming months will bring, but occasionally pulling away from the job search to refocus your energies in the ways listed below can help you to cope.

  • Social Support. Formal sources of support such as mentoring programs, as well as informal support groups like friends & family, and face-to-face or online discussion groups, can provide you with people with whom you can talk, seek advice, commiserate, and ease perceptions of isolation.
  • Coping Style. You may need to reevaluate your coping style. Try reinterpreting events in a positive light. You may also try breaking down your overall situation into a series of distinct and more solvable problems. It’s a challenge, but adjusting your outlook will change how you react to stressors and help prevent them from harming your health. Sometimes, just finding the humor in a situation can provide the spontaneous relief that you need.
“It’s not the stress that kills us. It is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye
  • Make Time for You. It sounds like a cliché, but believe it or not, 20 minutes a day of solitude will make a lot of difference in stress relief and mental balance. Read a fun book, meditate, or just stare out the window.
  • Exercise and diet. Exercise and eat a balance diet to release stress and increase your resistance to stress and stress-related health problems.

In the war between psyches a realistic, but positive outlook wins every time. After all, the only real control any of us have is in how we react.

This article was written by David Harwell, Ph.D., assistant director of the ACS Department of Career Management and Development.

4 Responses to Job Searching with Positive Outcomes

  1. Nick says:

    Try and see how cheery you are after busting your butt to get a PhD…then being jobless for 5 years (and counting). I used to be a very happy positive person…but ever since I got my PhD things have changed. I have applied to literally hundreds of jobs and I have had ONE actual interview. I make less money now than I did delivering pizza. The pizza job was to pay for my education which would allow me to get a better job. Oh…how very funny that thought is now.

  2. Dear Nick,

    There are no easy answers to your questions, and no, being out of work for 5 years is nothing to laugh about. It is also true that you can’t land a job just by being cheerful. You must also have the skills and training required for the position. However, going into an interview with a negative attitude will definitely lessen your chances for leaving with a job offer.

    Addressing your situation specifically, I would suggest going to a professional recruiter or employment agency. This is not my usual position, because we have many other resources to help chemists find jobs on their own. However, your record of employment has been interrupted, and you have a long period of unemployment. Therefore, you need an employment record above all else. Working as a temporary or contract worker in a lab can provide you with a track record of employment and service. You could also use the experience to meet others within the company to network (ask about) other employment opportunities. If you do a good job for the company, you may also be able to obtain recommendations of your work.

    For others who may read this comment, I would add that early intervention is key. Our career-counseling program, which is free to members of ACS, is very effective for most people. We also have many publications available under the career advice section of http://www.acs.org/careers. However, once someone has passed the two-year mark in unemployment, strategies must shift.

    With regard to employment/staffing agencies and recruiters, it is important to recognize that they should not be charging you anything as a job seeker. They should be obtaining their fees from the employer. If you sign on as a contractor for them, they should also cover your benefits. Most reputable agencies do, so ask before you sign on.

  3. jobs says:

    Advice is rather helpful. And it can be applied.And it’s positive. It’s great.

  4. Things are connected to everything else. Therefore if your are dropped or even removed there isn’t any balance.

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