Jobseekers: your attitude may be the reason you are still unemployed.

It’s reasonable for you to experience:

  • Despair – a complete lack of hope.
  • Shame – painful feeling of humiliation or disgrace.


It’s an imperative that you find:

  • Hope – A feeling of expectation.
  • Dignity – a state or quality of being worthy of honor and respect.

If you can turn your despair into hope and your shame into dignity, then you will significantly reduce your time to employment.

* * *

Why aren’t these people working?
A few months ago I spoke at a jobseeker’s group. There were about 200 people there and the topic was “The 2020 Career Outlook and How to Prepare.”

Ken Gronbach, the nationally known demographer came as my guest and asked, “What is the number one reason these people aren’t working?”

My answer, “Attitude.”

* * *

Your number one challenge: Self worth.

One pattern that I see over and over again is that when people lose their job, somehow all their work, all their successes became a lie. The value they brought to the company was dismissed and they were turned out.

Shame sets in.

Many jobseekers experiences feelings of shame…shame about their unemployment, shame they were laid off, shame they didn’t get an interview…it goes beyond disappointment.

Most shame is unnecessary.
Jobseekers experience shame because they are misinformed. Shame is about intentionally doing something wrong. If a jobseeker has been laid off, didn’t win a job offer, etc. they haven’t’ done anything wrong.
I love this article because it clarifies that most shame is unnecessary. The pathway out is to first understand the triggers and then challenge the assumptions.

Your internal conversation might sound something like this:
“I’m ashamed that I lost my job.”

“Did I intentionally do something that caused my job loss?”


“Then feeling shame is misplaced.”

In 8 years I have not heard of anyone intentionally doing something wrong that caused his or her job loss. Not once.

What about despair?
The most common cause of despair is depression. If you haven’t already read it, consider Managing Your Depression. Situational depression is common among jobseekers. The article discusses simple but effective ways to manage it.

Any jobseeker pounding the pavement and trying to understand the changes that have taken place in the hiring practices – can easily fall into despair. So there we have it: Shame and despair.

Stepping Onto the Confidence Button

You can move to hope and dignity:
An Internet search will reveal that developing “hope” comes under the heading, “Developing a Positive Attitude.” Now that’s probably not what you wanted to hear and the needs of the jobseeker are specific.

Jobseekers have a lot of emotions to manage and it will take time to work through them. However, the good news is that the people who are part of the hiring process don’t know all that. They only know the following:

  1. What the jobseeker tells them on the cover letter and resume
  2. What they find online expecially on LinkedIn
  3. What they learn through the interview process
  4. What the jobseekers references say

That’s it!

Really good news about your jobsearch: You Have Control!

You have direct control of the first three items on the list. Assuming that you choose your references wisely, then you have indirect control of your references as well.

Dignity: the foundation of human rights.
I propose, in agreement with this article, that Dignity is the foundation of human rights. It is an essential ingredient to living, not just to the jobsearch.

Again the definiition is about being valued – worthy of respect. This is directly related to how we are treated. Although we can’t control how others treat us, we can control how we treat ourselves. There’s no room for self doubt.

Here’s what to do:
Dignity and Hope:

  1. It is critical that you clearly understand your industry, the company where you are applying and your unique value to the position.
  2. You have to believe you can do the job or your self-doubt will show through. It will even come across on your cover letter and your resume.
  3. Treat yourself with dignity and honor. Reinforce this treatment by your actions.
  4. Consistently attend a jobseekers support group. Encourage the people there. Use the group to practice your interviewing skills and sharpen your resume.
  5. Become an expert at what is happening in your industry. What are the trends? What are the concerns?
  6. Check your résumé. No matter where the reader looks, it has to shine and clearly domonstrate your value.
  7. Read your résumé and LinkedIn profile. Would you hire that person based on this essential professional? You should be proud of your accomplishments and ready to talk about them.

beautiful rural landscape in sunrise

What about the negativity?
How does a person handle all the negativity from family, friends, and the media?

If you are a jobseeker, you do not have the luxury of negativity. It has to start with you. You have to know and live your value. If people insist of being negative, then you may have to insist on not being with them.

What will it take for you to believe in yourself again?
This is the critical question for every jobseeker. The sooner you manage this piece of the job search, the sooner your search will be over.



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3 thoughts on “From Shame and Despair to Hope and Dignity

  1. Your Website states that shame is a “painful feeling of humiliation or disgrace.” Actually, shame and humiliation are distinct and should not be confused. Many scholars incorrectly conflate shame and humiliation. One distinction is that persons who feel shame often feel their shame is deserved. Persons who experience humiliation do not feel they deserve their humiliation. Humiliation is also not extremely embarrassment…another common conflation.

  2. Is it my attitude that is causing hundreds of thousands of H1B employees to flood into America? Maybe if I “change my attitude”, Americans won’t be forced to train their replacements anymore.

    1. Your frustration is reasonable and I can truly understand it firsthand. I was tasked by a fortune 50 company to create the very training around the globe that was taking jobs from my colleagues here in the U.S. I wasn’t allowed to tell the team providing the information to me that when they finished, and their work moved oversees, that they would lose their jobs …along with their entire team. I felt like a traitor. When it came my turn to be laid off, I was so relieved that I cried.

      It’s 8 years later now. I’ve been studying the job market through this business and carefully watching. We are quickly becoming a global economy that is technology driven. As H1B employees are sought, so are U.S. citizens sought offshore.

      However, I believe the greater challenge and threat is the underlying attitude amongst Americans that we are no longer able to bring fresh, new ideas and a true entrepreneurial spirit into our jobs. I am very concerned that we are losing our edge with regard to ingenuity.

      You are correct – we must all monitor our frustration, protect our hope, and feed a positive attitude to find new solutions and encourage small and mid-sized companies. We need to encourage Washington to stop putting additional roadblocks in the path of new businesses. Historically, this is where and how we have pulled out of our economic recessions and depressions.

      I believe we must also get creative and find ways to receive global communities to create collaborative solutions where we combine our intellects, ideas, and energies to find global solutions.

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