It's easy to be dogged by negative thoughts when you are looking for work, but it is also very counterproductive. If you have been job-hunting for a while, you start thinking the problem is with you, rather than the labor market.
Negative thoughts — “Of course they don't need someone like me” or “I'll never find a job” — can rob job seekers of energy and hamper their efforts.
There is a set of skills, a study of unemployed people found, that helps overcome these kinds of thoughts and makes it far more likely someone will receive a job offer.
People who reported using cognitive-behavioral techniques were more likely to show an improvement in depressive symptoms and report that they had received a job offer.
“Searching for a job is difficult in any circumstance, but it may be even more difficult for people who are depressed. But we found that there are specific skills that can help not only manage the symptoms of depression but also make it more likely that a person will receive a job offer,” said study co-author Daniel Strunk.
These skills he refers to are commonly taught as part of cognitive behavioral (CB) therapy. CB skills include:
Strunk, an associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University, emphasizes how important it is to learn techniques for dealing with negative thoughts: “Some people just naturally catch themselves when they have negative thoughts and refocus on the positive and use other CB skills. These are the people who were more likely to find a job.”
Seventy-five unemployed people, aged 20 to 67, took part in two online surveys taken three months apart, and also completed several questionnaires that measured depressive symptoms, a variety of other psychological variables, as well as how often they used CB skills such as countering their own negative thoughts.
After three months, people who reported using the cognitive-behavioral skills were more likely to show an improvement in depressive symptoms and report that they had received a job offer.
Some people naturally see the glass as half empty. There are probably some jobs, such as insurance claims adjuster, where that may be an asset, but in general, negativity is not what employers are looking for. So it makes sense that focusing on how the glass is also half full is much more likely to get you hired.
The study appears in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.