Job Seeking – Dealing with Negativity Through a Positive Attitude

We read a lot about being positive and maintaining a positive attitude to things. Sometimes, when you read those sort of articles you are left thinking that it’s not okay to have negative thoughts or to react to something. If you are a job seeker then you will invariably face rejection and your instinctive response isn’t to think “that’s great” is it?

I am a great believer in focusing on the positive and projecting a positive image to the world. But is is okay, in fact it is more than “okay” to be disappointed or annoyed by that rejection email or telephone call.

“Their Loss” or “sounds like a lucky escape” is my better half’s response when I get the dreaded rejection after an interview. Whilst I always know that it’s intended to focus me in a positive way I am sure that any job seeker will be able to tell you that it can be disheartening. This is especially so when you get nonsensical feedback such as I received recently that “you didn’t give any examples of XYZ” during the interview to which my response if I had been able to give it to the interviewer was “you didn’t ask any questions around XYZ.”

That reaction to a disappointing outcome is potentially negative isn’t it? But it’s how we react after the initial reaction and process it that matters.

So, allow yourself to have a negative reaction and then you need to focus yourself on the next opportunity that you are pursuing. The following are some ideas on how you can do this.

The best way to eliminate negativity is to develop a positive attitude. Your thoughts and outlook on life have a profound effect on how you live your life. They are also contagious and affect those around you. You can’t have both positive and negative in the same space. So why not focus on turning the negativity into something more positive?

You will find you have more energy and enthusiasm when you have a more positive attitude. People will want to be around you more, and will be more positive as well, leading to a cascade effect. Negativity tends to bring you down and steal away your energy. It can also cause health issues over time. Some ways you can develop a more positive attitude are:

Read Books about Positive Thinking

There are many books out there that can teach you about how to develop a positive mindset and eliminate the negativity in your life. Reading is not only a great way to learn, but it helps your brain build more connections which keep it healthy for a longer time. You can even find many very good books on this subject in your local library and read them for free.


Affirmations are a way of reprogramming the negative thoughts you tell yourself – and in many cases, you may not even be aware that you have them. By doing affirmations, you can change these negative thoughts into positive ones. You can start thinking better of yourself.


Meditation is a great way to help eliminate negativity and turn it into positive thinking. It also reduces stress. Because you get past the conscious level, you can really help reprogram your mindset with meditation. If you combine this with the affirmations, you can increase the results.

Spend time with positive people

Try to eliminate or limit contact with people who tend to have a negative mindset. Sometimes you can’t completely break off contact with them, especially if they are family or people you work with, but as much as possible try to spend time with positive people. Not only will you find it easier to be positive around them, but you may learn new ways to help yourself be more positive.

Lessons From My Grandfather

In my last post I looked at how we should Paint Ourselves in a Positive Light when it comes to personal presentation. Now I want to take a look at personal presentation when like me, as I write, you are looking for a new role and being called to interview.

It’s strange how lessons learnt at a young age stay with us isn’t it. My Grandfather was a deeply loving man but he was an absolute stickler for dressing “appropriately” and he expected us all to follow suit. I can still recall the look of shock on my Grandfather’s face when I turned up to a family event wearing a brown suit and his question which was along the lines of “Are you going fishing?”

He very much saw brown as a colour for the country and not something that one would wear anywhere else! How times have changed and I am sure that he would be equally shocked at some of the clothes we wear nowadays. However, that comment from him has stuck with me and I cannot recall ever having worn a brown suit. He always told us that one should dress as if we were about to hear that we were being promoted to the Board.

Even today I still find myself wondering when I check how I look in the mirror before going out “would Grandfather approve?” He was very much in my thoughts the other day when I was attending an interview. I knew from my research that the company had adopted “dress down Friday” however, it would not have occurred to me to attend in anything other than a suit and tie – even if they had said “oh don’t worry we do dress down on a Friday.” When we are attending an interview then we really do need to look at our professional best don’t we?

During a job interview, you spend every moment under examination. There’s no two ways about it. The way you present yourself either leaves your interviewer excited to call you back or eager to put your resume on the bottom of the pile. That being said, keep the following information in mind as you prepare for your next interview… and good luck!

Dress for Success

Many times, your clothing is the thing that gives your interviewer his or her first impression of you. For best results.

Some companies may have a dress code requiring formal business attire, while others choose to keep their dress code more casual. The best way to find out about how a company’s employees dress is to ask. But, if you can’t ask in advance, for me it’s best to dress in a conservative business suit. With a suit and tie I can always remove the tie if it is obvious that I would look out of place! Keep accessories to a minimum, to avoid standing out too much. If your attire draws too much attention, it has the potential to take the focus off of your qualifications and credentials.

Be Confident

Self-confidence is vital when it comes to presenting yourself in a positive way. If you aren’t confident in yourself, how can you expect a potential employer to feel confident in hiring you? The best place to start when it comes to confidence is with a smile. Not only does smiling make you come off as approachable, it also releases endorphins in your body that makes you feel more relaxed.

Additionally, take time to fully prepare yourself before the interview begins. Do a bit of research on the company where you’ll be interviewing. Prepare any documents you may need and practice answers to questions that might come up.

Practice Proper Interview Etiquette

As well as being a stickler for appropriate dress one of the lessons that my Grandfather taught me was to treat everyone with respect from the most junior member of staff to the most senior. Displaying proper professional etiquette can mean the difference between getting hired and being passed over. Offer a firm, confident handshake at the beginning of the interview. Make eye contact during the greeting and when you answer your interview questions.

In addition, make sure to thank the interviewer for their time afterwards. Improper interview etiquette may get overlooked in some cases, but failing to be polite makes you come across as rude and leaves the wrong kind of lasting impression.

While your qualifications go a long way toward landing you a great job, they don’t accomplish the task alone. If you get the position, it’s important to have left your new boss with a good impression right then and there. Projecting a positive image of yourself helps to ensure that their image of you is positive, from the moment you start the new role.

The ART of Company Research

We all know it’s essential to research a company before an interview don’t we. But do we know why we are doing it? Well, we will be able to answer the “What do you know about us?” question of course, but I think it goes deeper than that. Essentially you need to be able to help the interviewer begin to picture you actually working in the organisation and the clearer you can paint this picture by aligning yourself to what is happening in the business, the more motivated the recruiter will be to hire you.

How do we do this? Well for starters we don’t fall for the oldest trick in the book, which was highlighted by that awful interview process they go through on The Apprentice. One candidate was asked by one of the Rottweilers “So what do you know about Amstrad?” He replied “Alan Sugar started it in 1968…” and proceeded to tell the Amstrad story. The camera panned away to another scene; came back and he was still talking about the colourful history. Panned away; came back and he was still going! Yes he’d done his research, but how useful was it?

My view is that you must be smart about your research. The interviewer really isn’t too interested in that you know the company was founded in 1906 on a market stall….They are hiring you for their future, not their past so let’s feed them the information that leaves them with the feeling that you will fit into that future. This means the information you research has to be current and if there is any indication of what their future plans are, then all the better.

Where Do I find This Information?

Company Website

Yes, have a brief look at the history for background info but click very quickly (dependant on company size) to the press releases, or investor relations tab where current and future-focused information is housed. Also do have a look at their current product or service range. What’s your opinion of it? Are you getting a sense that they are acquisitive or spreading around the globe? If you are fluent in a language where you can see that they are looking to develop into, this is gold dust which you can share at interview helping paint the picture.
Also have a look and see if they have published values. Always useful to know them to marry against your own, but also if appropriate asking how the values are lived in the business is a great question to ask at the end of an interview.

You may also find the company has their own blog site or a comprehensive careers page with interesting information relating to particular job types.

Company Research Sites

A number exist such as but are mainly subscription based. Some useful information can be gained such as on Hoovers if you bring up the basic information it tells you who the company’s 3 main competitors are. Useful. Instead of these sites however I would now reference the multitude of information on social media sites – this is where insights are, rather than dry facts.

Social Media

The most useful in my view are:

  • LinkedIn – I’m sure we are all LinkedIn users, if not then please read the blogs on its benefits to candidates, but LinkedIn holds a wealth of information on not only the organisation but obviously the people within it. This opens another door to personal referral listed below, but use your contacts and Companies tab to see how you are able to gain first hand info on the company.
  • Facebook – In this world of employer branding, companies of all sizes are likely to have a Facebook page. This is a fantastic way to see how the organisation interacts with its customers and prospective employees. You get a very real sense (warts and all sometimes) about the company’s style, approach and attitude. If this suits you then again referring to this helps to paint the picture.
  • Twitter – As with Facebook you’ll see the company actively reaching out to its market. If you follow them the discussions may provide you with real insights as well as the possibility of job postings.
  • Glassdoor – A site that has gained real traction over the last few years where people post their experiences of companies onto the site. Take some with a pinch of salt, but if you see a trend appearing utilise the good and question the bad.
  • Brave New Talent – A site set up to share knowledge. Companies post small learning videos and through a free account you can again get an insight into the organisation’s thinking or approach to market.

Personal Referral

There is still no substitute for talking with someone who works there. Get referred to people who will hopefully share a balanced view of the business and may be able to refer you on further. Do plan for these conversations though – what would you really like to know? Without bragging, if the interviewer realises you already have a small network in the business, that picture is being painted.

Job Boards

I always think it is fascinating to see if the company is advertising for other jobs in the market. How do they phrase the content, what are they saying about the company’s future? Are there loads of jobs in sales for example – what does that mean? Where are most jobs located?

Competing Companies

Sounds odd maybe but if you do similar research on the competitors you may pick up vital market comparisons and initiatives that may be intelligence for the recruiting company. “I see that X are developing low emission products. What are your plans in this market?”

Researching a company is an art. The art is to paint the picture of you working in the future organisation, so search for relevant info that you can relate to and draw the interviewer’s attention to this. No research is wasted, so enjoy it and see it as a genuinely interesting fact finding mission – but know what facts you may find useful and add them to your palette. Brush up on the people and culture of the organisation and you’ll be ready to canvass yourself out there in the market place. (OK, OK, even I’m cringing with the puns now, sorry!). Good luck!!

Paul Deeprose

Paul Deeprose runs The Career Gym, helping you get your career into shape.

Please do tweet him @pauldeeprose if you want to give your whole career a workout, or need one-off personal support in career planning, interview practice or CV writing.