There is, without doubt, a definite art to writing a CV. It is not just about writing whom you have worked for and what you have done. Writing a powerful CV is about making an impact on the reader and subtly portraying your attitude and vision for the job you are applying for.
When anyone talks about attitude, it is easy for us to get defensive and twitchy and to begin to question others or even ourselves. But what exactly is meant by ‘attitude’ in relation to job-hunting and CV writing? Is it really that important anyway? And aren’t qualifications more important than attitude?
Qualifications, past experience and company history are all important but your attitude and how you portray this will determine whether you get hired or overlooked. Your attitude is crucial to your overall job-hunting success and is reflected by the words you use in your CV and your facial expressions, pace, tone, inflection, behaviour and dress sense at the interview.
Employers are not looking for a ‘perfect’ candidate because there is no such thing. However, they are looking for a stable, reliable, realistic, positive, visionary candidate who wants a long-term future, a candidate who gives the employer more reason to say ‘yes’ to him/her than ‘no’, a candidate who will add value to the company and not one who brings all his/her baggage and problems with him/her.
The secret is knowing how to avoid the negative attitudes and how to portray yourself MORE positively both in the CV and at the interview so that you receive the best package for yourself.
1. Negative Attitudes
To make things a bit clearer, the typical types of attitude and states of mind that put employers off are listed below:
The opportunist attitude
The opportunist person has no real commitment to an employer and is liable to move on when his/her mood or requirements change. Do you have an opportunist attitude? Do you get bored easily?
What are you looking for? Is it money, a car, increased responsibility?
Action: You need to sort out what you want from your career in the long and short term.
2. The depressive attitude
A depressive person doesn’t want to take responsibility for his/her career. It can be detected because the candidate blames the company and environment for what has or has not happened.
Do you have a depressive attitude? Do you look for a new job when you are fed up with the one you are currently doing? Do you apply when things get on top of you at work, when you feel that you can’t cope and need to escape from the monotony of your current situation?
Action: You need to start taking charge of your career, sorting out what you want and realising that you can influence your situation. Think about what you enjoy doing and what motivates you and present the good in the CV and interview rather than the bad.
3. The angry attitude
The angry person talks in terms of how the previous company should have rewarded him or how others should have behaved. Do you have an angry attitude? Do you start looking for jobs when you feel that you are being overlooked at work? When you notice that your colleagues and subordinates are being promoted and you are not, even though you think you should be? When you don’t get the credit that you deserve for a project? Or when you feel your career is not moving as fast as it should be?
Action: If you feel you have been unfairly treated or mistreated, beware. Talk to your boss and sort it out. You don’t want to carry this disappointment with you for the rest of your career as it could grow in size with time. If the case comes up at an interview, it is much better to talk about personality clashes rather than in terms of what you ought to or should have gained. Anyone can have a personality clash, so it need not hold you back if presented appropriately.
4. The desperate attitude
Employers are proud of their company/business and want to employ people who hold similar values. Desperate interviewees are those people who see their own needs and situation as far more important than those of the employer.
Do you have a desperate attitude? Are you short of money and out of work? Are you threatened with redundancy? Are you unsure of what you want to do but willing to give any job a try?
Action: You must try and see the employer’s point of view as well as your own. You may find that a temporary job may ease the financial burden and pressures. You must stress your positive attributes and skills rather than saying that you will do anything, as this is too weak and feeble.
5. The half-hearted attitude
Half-hearted people give themselves away because they lack stability, conviction and stamina. Employers get the impression that everything is too much effort and that they just can’t be bothered
Do you have a half-hearted attitude? Are you easily disappointed and take knocks too personally? Do you need time to heal and lick your wounds after you have been rejected? Do you give up at the first hurdle? Or do you see it as a learning process, find out the reasons you weren’t selected and work on the tips you have been given? Does your job hunt lose momentum and then you spend time feeling guilty that nothing is happening on the job front?
Action: Work out why you are giving up. Do you really want this job?
6. The emotionally unstable attitude
Employers want assurances that you can and will do the job. An employer would be concerned if you have suffered any personal or emotional problems that could affect your work performance.
Do you have an emotionally unstable attitude? Perhaps you have just experienced a bereavement or been through a messy divorce? If divorced or separated, briefly explain the circumstances if these add to your case.
Action: If asked about the event, don’t fall into the trap of giving the employer all the detail. He/she is not interested in this, only that you have sorted yourself out. An employer doesn’t want to employ all your problems as well, as he/she has enough of his/her own.
7. The know-it-all attitude
A know-it-all person doesn’t warm others to his/her way of thinking. He/she is so wrapped up in his/her own self-importance and how brilliantly he/she has performed in the past that his/her attitude invites others to put him/her down or see fault in him/her. Of course, employers are interested in your previous experience but only as long as it is put in the context of their needs.
Do you have a know-it-all attitude? Do you talk about your previous experience and assume you will do the same thing in your new role regardless? Are you open to new ideas? Do you see another person’s needs and point of view?
Action: Talk in terms of the prospective employer’s needs and relate your experience to these needs.
8. The irrational attitude
Irrational people give themselves away because they lack self-confidence. When asked about certain subjects, their argument falls apart and then they have an even bigger problem.
Do you have an irrational attitude? Are you under-qualified for the job you are applying for? Are you perhaps setting your sights far too high for where you are at the moment? Are you reaching for standards that you can’t possibly achieve right now and therefore you will always fail? Or are you applying for jobs for which you are overqualified and therefore not giving yourself a chance to reach your full potential?
Action: Try to sort out in your own mind what you want from your career and be realistic in your approach.
9. The sloppy attitude
The sloppy person either can’t be bothered to get it right or isn’t even aware that he/she is slipping up.
Do you have a sloppy attitude? Do you have a good CV and interview manner? Do you have good hygiene and appearance or are you inclined to be lax in these areas? Do you take your family circumstances into your decision-making – will this career move be a good move for just you or for the whole family? Have you considered how long hours, excessive time away from home or relocating will affect you all?
Action: Identify what the problem is, and if you don’t know ask a close friend or a career advisor, or ring up the interviewer and be brave enough to ask. Try to listen to what was said and reflect upon it. Is it true or false? If false, ignore it and think no more about it, but, if true, be brave and sort it out.
10. The non-conformist attitude
Employers claim that non-conformity is an automatic reason for rejection. Candidates need to demonstrate to a prospective employer that they can and will follow basic instructions and requests.
Do you have a non-conformist attitude? Are you letting yourself down because you are not submitting information that the employer is asking for?
Action: Whether you like it or not, remember that the only rule of job hunting is to do what the employer asks and do what you say you will do. You will have the chance to demonstrate your flair and originality at the interview and to assess whether you will fit in with the organization.
All the negative attitudes highlighted above have a higher failure rate than success rate. Candidates need to be aware of their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses and be able to express themselves both verbally and in writing.
Ask yourself how positive is your CV? Are you a realistic job hunter? Are you selling yourself to your highest potential in your CV and at an interview? The ebook ‘Win the job at the Interview‘ covers all these ideas and more. In order to avoid disappointment in job hunting, you have just got to keep at it and never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.