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When you’re at the start of your career journey, the prospect of entering the professional workforce is incredibly exciting, but can also be quite daunting.
It turns out your mindset could make the difference.
A recent report from the Foundation of Young Australians titled The New Work Reality collected information from 14,000 young people aged 15 to 25. Among the key findings, the report found that an having an optimistic mindset when applying for jobs resulted in young people finding full time work two months faster than someone who wasn’t happy with their career prospects.
We spoke to Gavin Walker and Caitlin Hardiman from DeakinTALENT – Deakin’s Graduate Employment Division – to hear their thoughts on the difference a positive mindset can make for you when looking for employment.
To a prospective employer, an optimistic demeanour shows that you have the confidence in your skillset to perform in your desired role. It demonstrates an attitude of, ‘I can do this job, and do it well’.
‘The language used in the application and interview stage of someone with an optimistic mindset is different to that of someone without one,’ Walker explains.‘It could be that thinking optimistically allows the candidate to picture themselves in the role, allowing them to respond to questions with more authority and confidence.’
Carrying an optimistic mindset into your interviews is particularly important, because this is when the approach you’ll bring to the job is on display to your potential employer.
According to Hardiman, appearing unenthusiastic or negative can show an interviewer that you don’t have confidence in your ability to do the job well, or that you aren’t excited about the role.
‘When a candidate comes across as having a negative mindset, it makes recruiters wonder whether they really want the position on offer or if it’s “just a pay check”, as well as wondering why the candidate doesn’t think they’ll be successful,’ Hardiman explains.
A positive mindset also demonstrates to a potential employer that you’re the kind of person an organisation wants to have around.
'It could be that thinking optimistically allows the candidate to picture themselves in the role, allowing them to respond to questions with more authority and confidence.'
Graduate Employment Division, Deakin University
As we see more focus on the importance of good corporate culture, bringing an optimistic employee into an organisation has far-reaching benefits, well beyond having the job done well.
Along with the hard skills you’ve been able to present on your resume, employers now more than ever want to see a new employee display soft skills, such as positively interacting with co-workers.
‘Hiring managers are far more likely to want to work with an optimistic and positive grad, rather than one who always sees the worst in any situation,’ Hardiman says.
As a junior employee, it’s not uncommon for you to be occasionally lumped with some less-than-exciting tasks. If you take these on with a smile, your boss will thank you for it – and you’ll likely be rewarded with better opportunities down the track. Having a great attitude can also work in your favour when problems arise, as you’ll be well-placed to work through solutions and take initiative – a highly sought-after skill in professional workplaces.
While a positive mindset will put you in a better position to get hired, there will be times that you’ll be unsuccessful in a job application. But it’s important to keep an optimistic mindset when receiving this news, also.
Hardiman explains that unsuccessful candidates who are optimistic are more likely to respond positively and ask for constructive feedback, which can make a great impression and leave you in a better position for future roles.
‘These are the candidates who will be kept in mind for future opportunities; we call this the hidden job market. Up to 80% of jobs aren’t advertised at all, and grads can tap into this hidden job market by remaining optimistic and professional when faced with rejection,’ Hardiman explains.
There’s no better way to put yourself top of the pile for the next role that becomes available than to respond positively and productively to being knocked back for a position.
And even if the next job that pops up is with a completely different organisation, that positive mindset has probably put you in a better position for that role too. Walker explains:
‘Perseverance to push through these rejections, maintaining focus and using positive language in the next application will help, even if you need to give yourself a short break from applying to refresh your mind.’
Working on building a strong professional mindset? Find out about the role resilience plays in career success.
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