I was struck by Arianna Huffington's October blog about the Opportunity: What is Working initiative. In partnership with LinkedIn, NBS News, Microsoft, Starbucks, MCJ Amelior Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Skoll Foundation, Opportunity Nation, Simply Hired and a myriad of other organizations, Huffington Post aims to change the narrative from "fatalistic and passive acceptance of joblessness as the new normal" to unearth new opportunities currently disguised as insurmountable problems.
Companies, foundations and non-profits are partnering to tackle the jobs crisis, doing everything from offering multi-million dollar prizes awarded for new jobs via small businesses to innovative crowd funding to raise money for employment boosting non-profits. Other foci include tackling the skills mismatch and the asset gap we face in this country.
I heartily agree that we need to accentuate the positive in the career quest and in addition to the impressive Opportunity: What is Working initiative, individuals need to take action as well. It all starts with rearranging some mental furniture. A Mayo Clinic study showed that positivity increases life span, lowers stress and allows individuals to cope better during times of hardship. Now more than ever, individuals need to focus on what's working since positivity can equate to employability.
Consider these strategies as you look to the possibilities of employment or managing your existing career.
Play to Your Strengths. Everybody has career strengths -- things you do well that you enjoy that give you energy. The trick is recognizing these strengths and how you can make them employable. Rally your circle of trust and ask your people what you do well. Compare that list with what you really love to do and consider what skills are most needed in your career area of interest. Stop focusing on what you don't do well because you are not broken. Play to your strengths and lead with what you enjoy and your career pursuits will take on a new sense of vigor and enthusiasm.
Have a Good Day or a Great Day. A wise mentor shared this mantra and it has impacted how I view my career and personal life every day. Make a choice to look at your career quest through a positive lens. Positivity is infectious but so is negativity, so become the magnet that people want to spend time with and make the choice to focus on what's going well in your world.
I have seen a pessimistic attitude derail candidates in job interviews from newly-minted college grads to seasoned professionals. The Debbie Downer attitude does not play well in the company culture, so change your mindset and bring a positive attitude to all career-related endeavors. People will be more eager to help you and hire you because of your attitude.
Holiday Good News Letter . If you are a diligent networker it may seem like you are always asking people for information, advice and introductions. Be a wise relationship builder and share some unsolicited good news about your job search progress, even if you focus on the journey and not the end result. Your network will appreciate that you are keeping them updated without always asking for something. With the holiday season upon us, a good news note, email or phone call will be much appreciated.
Pay-it-Forward. Good karma does circle back, so share job leads, strategies and information with others in need as you simultaneously seek employment. Helping others is not only the right thing to do, but the person you help today could be the one that hires you tomorrow. Consider going back to your alma mater when you have a hiring opportunity in your organization to tap the alumni candidate pool. Share an inside job lead with a friend who may be better suited for the role. Helping others builds community and with every person who achieves success, we move forward as a nation.
Say Thank You. Chances are you have rallied a team to help you achieve your career goals. If you haven't, it's time to assemble your personal Board of Directors, since nobody should do this alone. Be sure to thank your professional posse so they know how much you value their guidance and support. Mentors and sponsors also need to know how much you appreciate them so don't be shy about picking up the phone to say thank you!
Positivity in Employable. I work with clients and students regularly who are visibly emotional about the current state of the job market. We all know how difficult it is but it's time to distinguish yourself from the pouting pack and embrace a solution provider mindset. Employers are looking for great people and you need to show them your genuine enthusiasm because positivity is employable. People hire for fit and train for skill but emotional intelligence always rules.
Steve Jobs talked about putting something back into the flow of history by helping your community and other people. Put your career pebble into the flow, since each baby step will make an incremental and impactful change in our national workforce. There is enough negative talk about the job market. The time for positivity is here. We can collectively change the opportunities and I believe it all starts with a positive attitude.
Consider how you can help someone in your community. Throw the ladder down to help someone else get on solid ground. It's the right thing to do and it will help us put the spotlight on what is working. Accentuate the positive -- it will make your career journey a lot more palatable.
Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name (www.carolinedowdhiggins.com) She is the Director of Career & Professional Development and Adjunct Faculty at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and hosts the national CBS Radio Show Career Coach Caroline on Tuesdays at 5pm ET. Caroline also contributes to AOL and More Magazine online.