When business people first started to speak with me about the importance of a positive mental attitude in regards to a successful career change, I was pretty skeptical. That’s fine for Friday night pep rallies and things of that sort (Pump me up, Hans & Franz), but this is the real world. We need something long lasting, not “false enthusiasm that lasts about as long as taking a shower.” Well, as a friend pointed out, “Hopefully, Mike, that doesn’t keep you from taking a shower each day.”
The point he was making, and the one I want to convey to you, is that there are Keys to Success – first and foremost among them is attitude. Nowhere is this truer than during a career change. Whether we are proactively pursuing a change, or one has been forced upon, our attitude is key. What follows are 12 attitudes that all my successful clients have shared.

1. Well Defined, Exciting Goals

As Steven Covey would say, “Begin with the end in mind.” The first task is to establish focus and direction for your campaign; not merely what you want to do, but where you want to do it, in terms of industry and/or geography. If you don’t know what and where, it’s going to be pretty hard to land in the right place.

2. Plan of Action

You can have a great goal, but if you don’t have a specific, concrete plan for accomplishing it, nothing positive is likely to happen. A good Plan of Action will begin with some key questions:

  • Why are you making this move?
  • What are your Job Search Goals?
  • What is most important to you in your next position?
  • What are the key skills you want to “sell” your new employer?
  • What strategies are you going to employ to accomplish this?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • How are you going to minimize those weaknesses?

Regarding your career search:

  • What specific tactics are you going to utilize to generate interviews?
  • How often are you going to utilize each technique?
  • How are you going to track and judge the quality of your efforts?
  • How will you prepare for interviews? Will you role-play? With whom?
  • How will you follow-up on interviews?
  • How will you approach offer negotiations when they come?

The answers to these and other questions help form your Plan of Action.

3. A Sense of Immediacy – Don’t Wait

In seminars, I ask new clients how quickly they want to be in their next position. They never fail to respond with, “Yesterday” or “Tomorrow”. My response is consistent as well, “Then act like it.” As one of my mentors was fond of saying, the job doesn’t always go to the most qualified candidate, but to the person who conducts the most aggressive campaign.

4. Strive for Excellence

Go for the job you want, not the one you think you deserve. Too often I see clients selling themselves short, settling for jobs that are beneath there abilities. Continue to strive for what is just beyond your reach.

5. Continue to Learn

Continue to improve your skills in your areas of expertise. Become a better salesperson, manager, technician, or whatever it is you do. If you don’t better yourself, keep in mind that there is someone else out there who is, and they will probably get the job…not you.
Learn the modern methods of how to make a career move. Too much has changed to continue using the job search techniques your father used. Yet, research tells us most people are using antiquated techniques.
Most importantly, continue to learn about yourself. How can you become more relatable? Do you know how to draw people to yourself? Can you get people on board with your ideas?

6. Be Determined to Serve Other People First

I believe it is true that you can get whatever you want if you first help others get what they want. In the job campaign, this means focusing on what you can do for the employer, rather than focusing on how many weeks of vacation you’ll get. One follows the other.

7. Dogged Persistence

Be persistent in everything you do. Follow up in an appropriate, professional manner. Know what the next steps are; if you don’t know, ask. Too many clients loose out on opportunities because they take the first “no” as the final answer. If you can’t get through on the first call, keep trying. If they don’t return your first voice mail message, keep trying. I once had a client who finally met face-to-face with a Vice-president of a Fortune 500 company after 28 phone calls. Keep it professional, but keep trying.

8. No Blaming – Blaming is for Losers

One of my clients, with 20 years experience in the steel wire industry, missed a $90,000 a year opportunity because somebody else had 22 years experience in the steel wire industry. The employer felt they were equally qualified, but had to use some criteria to choose between them. Obviously, we were both disappointed that he didn’t get the position, but whom should we blame? Don’t waste valuable time crying over spilled milk; move on.

9. Accept Full and Unconditional Responsibility for Overcoming the Situation

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. I love working with former military personnel. They know how to set an objective, put together a plan of attack, and implement it aggressively, knowing that the plan never works exactly the way it’s supposed to. Rather than looking for excuses, spend your energy looking for ways to get over, under, around or through the obstacles that pop up. If the Action Plan needs to be revised, do it. “Goals are in concrete; Plans are in sand.”

10. Get Comfortable with Disappointment

One of the first people I worked with in this industry used to say that if my clients weren’t being rejected at least 10 times each week, they weren’t really doing much in their campaign. Develop the confidence that comes from knowing that each “no” gets you that much closer to a “yes.”

11. If You Want to Fly With the Eagles, Don’t Hang Around With the Turkeys

Who are the turkeys in your life? Who’s saying you can’t achieve what you want? Have you ever noticed that whenever you step out of your comfort zone, whenever you dare to do great things, there’s always someone who doesn’t have the courage to improve himself, who wants to keep you from striving for your goals? Stay the course. Stay focused on what you want for yourself.

12. Daily Feeding of the Mind

To a great degree, we are where we are and who we are because of what we have placed in our minds – the books we’ve read, the people we’ve met, the decisions we’ve made. What are you putting into your mind? We can change ourselves significantly by adjusting the input. I encourage my clients to read for at least 15 minutes each day. There are great books on career search techniques and personal self-development that can add to the success of your campaign in tremendous ways.