Optimism for Job Seekers


Job seekers are all types of people with different backgrounds and experiences, many have been on the job hunt for a while and have been rejected so many times that they have lost all hope. The optimism that drives people to take action, to try to do different things, or to do things differently is gone. I often interview a person that has a lot of potential, but do not present his/her best. These candidates can be defeatist, giving explanations of rejection ranging from lack of experience to ethnicity. As a recruiter and a coach, I want them to see their potential, change the way they talk about their experience, show enthusiasm, and find that job. If someone thinks they know better (or in this case worse), and refuses to take advice, there is not much I can do.

These encounters were baffling and I often wondered why these people were so gloomy until I stumbled upon a quote in a book by Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More Than IQ: “Pessimists (…) react to such setbacks [being turned down for a job] by assuming there is nothing they can do to make things go better the next time, and so do nothing about the problem; they see the setback as due to some personal deficit that will always plague them.”

It all made sense then, I realised how troubled and helpless these people must have felt. They gave up their power, having decided that they are not good enough to be employed. Every rejection was more proof that they were right, still they did not see that they brought it upon themselves. Their pessimism led them to take "the blame for failure, ascribing it to some lasting characteristics they are helpless to change."(Goleman)

How then being optimistic can help in a job search?

As Goleman explains: “optimists tend to respond actively and hopefully, by formulating a plan of action (...) or seeking out help and advice”. (Goleman) Optimism allows one to stay in their power; it maintains the conviction that there is a way and it feeds persistence necessary to find it. Optimism inspires creative approach to a job search; it makes one reach out to new networks or to look for alternative opportunities. And optimism helps to perform in a job interview: it radiates through a person, it encourages one to smile and provide good answers, to appreciate and express their potential, and to turn any lack into an opportunity for learning. The impression such a candidate makes is lasting.


Whether you see yourself helpless and doomed or see opportunities and chances out there, it is your personal choice. I can only ask which makes you feel better. If you decide to stay or move to the brighter side there is a short and sweet article on how to feed your optimism/remain positive while searching for work: 10 Tips On How To Stay Positive While Looking For A Job

Best of luck!


Written by Joanna Binder, Life and Career Coach, Manager at Priority Placements Recruitment, and Shane Collins ACA a Director at Priority Placements Recruitment.


* The quotes come from a book by Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More Than IQ; Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 1996, page 88