A little gratitude can do wonders for your outlook on life. A grateful attitude can also help you recognize and appreciate what you have instead of bemoaning whatever you lack. As it happens, this appreciation and perspective shift can bring on a cascade of additional benefits, including a more genuine smile, a stronger sense of self-confidence, and—you guessed it—a happier and more successful career.
All of these changes start with a few simple moves and an open mind. Grab a pen, grab your phone, and get ready for a few exercises in the art of saying thank you.
1. Start by thinking about what you have. You may not be working right now, but have you held positions in the past that will elevate your resume and give you a shot at a better future? You may not have an advanced degree, but have you completed any degree or training programs that provide some of the skills you need for success? Celebrate these accomplishments.
2. Think about the help you received while you built these credentials. Who pushed you to enroll? Who helped pay for your training? Who answered your questions patiently? Who helped you study while juggling competing responsibilities? Who gave you your first big break? Who took a chance on you? Who took responsibility for your early mistakes? Who helped you find your feet? Generate a list of names. The longer the better.
3. Who’s helping you now? Look around. Chances are, someone in your life is reviewing your resume for you, sending you job posts that might interest you, inviting you in for interviews, endorsing you on LinkedIn, and rooting for your success, whether you realize it or not.
4. Every kind word helps during the job search process. Think back: what was the last encouraging thing you were told, and who spoke these words?
5. Write five handwritten thank-you notes by the end of this week. In fact, every week of your entire job search should include at least five notes sent by card or email. They don’t have to be long or sentimental—a few quick words will do. Just finish this sentence: “Thank you for…I really appreciate your help with…I’ll keep you posted on the outcome!”
6. Stop hiding from the phone. Written communication by email and text will get your message across most of the time. But when you need to pick up the phone and say “thank you” using your own voice, don’t be afraid. And don’t put it off.
7. Get ready to turn it around. Once you’ve sent your five messages every week, find ways to pass on the kindness and consideration that others have shown to you. Remember that great feeling you had when a friend of a friend mentioned your name at an industry event? Or when your former boss recommended you to a hiring manager during a reference check? How can you provide that same feeling to someone else? After you say thanks, give another person a reason to say these words to you.
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