Have you ever had a great day, where everything was going right and one success just seemed to lead into the next one? Conversely, have you ever had a bad day, where you started off in a poor mood, and all you could see was the bad in everything? Did those good or bad days sometimes extend into weeks?
We’ve experienced stretches of time where things seemed to keep going in the same direction. But did you ever stop to consider that it might be your attitude that is the driving factor?
Sometimes, your attitude towards a particular project is a productive thing. For example, if you are a technical editor, you approach each new project with the attitude “what is wrong with this document, and how can I change it to make it better meet the needs of the intended audience?” You go in looking for things that are wrong, knowing that they are there, and don’t stop looking until you find them and fix them.
If you are an analytical or quality control chemist, the right attitude might be “there is something wrong with this batch, and I am going to find out what it is”. You run your tests and compare to standards, until you have exhausted the options and proven to yourself that your hypothesis was incorrect, and that particular batch of product meets all specifications. (Are you now flashing back to disproving the null hypothesis in high school science class?)
While working from the hypothesis that “there’s something wrong and I must find it” works to your advantage in some cases, if you approach every situation that way it can work against you. For example, if you are in the habit of looking for problems and mismatches, you will be at a decided disadvantage when you are searching or interviewing for a new job.
Instead of focusing on how well you fit with both the position and the company, and how your rich history of professional accomplishments is ideally suited to the requirements of the job, you may continue in your attitude of looking for problems, and the ways you don’t fit.
There is no job that is absolutely perfect for you – there will always be something you don’t like, or don’t know how to do. What you’re looking for is a position where the good outweighs the bad, and where you will enjoy doing the good parts so much that the parts you don’t like are only a minor annoyance. Or even better, you enjoy learning something new to do the parts of the job you haven’t done before. When looking for a new job, it is important to force yourself to focus on the positive, looking at the skills and experiences you have that do prepare you for that position, instead of focusing on where you do not fit.
This becomes even more important when you get to the interview stage. The person interviewer is expecting you to convince them not only that you can do the job, but that you really want to do the job. They expect you to describe in detail how perfectly suited you are for the job, and how your prior accomplishments have prepared you to do exactly what they need to have done. In order to sell the interviewers, you first have to sell yourself. You have to approach each position with the attitude “I am the perfect person for this job, and here’s why.”
After all, if you can’t convince yourself that you’re perfect for the job, how do you expect to convince your future employer? So the next time someone tells you to keep a positive attitude about your job search, remember that they are right. You are positive that there is a job out there that for which you are the perfect candidate – and you will keep looking until you find it.
This article was written by Lisa M. Balbes, Ph.D. of Balbes Consultants LLC. Lisa is a freelance technical writer/editor and author of: “Nontraditional Careers for Chemists: New Formulas for Chemistry Careers,” published by Oxford University Press.