Archive for November, 2011

Gratitude Begets Attitude

November 23, 2011

You’ve probably heard that hiring managers should hire for both aptitude and attitude.  Yet, for both candidates and hiring executives, the aptitude side of the equation usually gets the most attention.  Aptitude comes in many forms, including domain knowledge, critical thinking skills, communications skills, resourcefulness, and educational pedigree.  These are all areas that candidates regularly work on throughout their career.  Whether it’s taking courses or breaking into a specific field and becoming a subject matter expert, aptitude gets top billing.

Interestingly, attitude, as it pertains to interviewing and hiring, can carry just as much influence.  However, it seems that attitude is deemed one of those nebulous attributes – almost subliminal in nature.  As a result, hiring managers pay attention to it more as an afterthought as far as the candidate is concerned.  And they don’t even ponder the notion that attitude can affect their ability to run an effective interview.  On the other side of the fence, candidates often don’t even try to bolster their attitude.  It falls into the “it is what it is” bucket.

Well, it is what it is because of outright neglect or lack of awareness.  With all our everyday worldly challenges in this rapid-fire world, we often resign ourselves to powerlessness in overcoming any negative effects on our demeanor.  This phenomenon can do a serious disservice if you are trying to present yourself favorably.

People want to hire those who exude a positive mental attitude – who overcome adversity or at least make the most of difficult times.  Candidates want to go to work for hiring executives who emanate optimism and belief in their convictions.  In this annual season of thankfulness and gratitude, how can we find ways to exercise our attitude muscles more often than once a year?

In a recent study conducted jointly by the University of California at Davis and University of Miami, researchers discovered that if subjects identified and listed just 5 things they were grateful for each week, their attitudes improved exponentially.  Granted, the stop-and-smell-the-roses society has long since passed.  Yet, by doing this simple exercise once a week, participants in the study were less likely to turn aggressive when provoked, were generally more optimistic, felt happier, reported fewer physical ailments, and slept better at night.  If people could take a pill once a week that produced these benefits with no side-effects, who wouldn’t want to take them?

Far too often, I’ve seen top tier candidates blow interviews because their attitude was in the toilet.  Similarly, I’ve witnessed strong candidates turn down great career opportunities because hiring managers put off negative vibes.  A well-managed attitude speaks to people’s emotional intelligence along with the existence of strong intangible qualities, such as self-awareness, restraint, tact, rapport, and resilience.  When all things are equal, a candidate with strong intangibles will nearly always win out.  Naturally, too, a candidate who is being courted by multiple suitors offering equally compelling opportunities will gravitate towards the executive team with strong intangibles.

So go ahead and enjoy that turkey.  Go around the table and talk about what you’re grateful for.  Crash on the couch with a well-earned, tryptophan-induced food coma and nap.  But what about next week and the week after?  What will you be grateful for then?


Action items:

1.  Especially in tough times, a well-managed attitude will invariably enable you to present yourself in a more favorable light.  No matter the difficulty, it could always be worse.  And with that, you have something to build on.

2.  People gravitate towards others who are upbeat, receptive and forward-looking.  Believe me, you want to be one of those people who others gravitate towards.

3.  In the interview and hiring cycle, attitude is equally important for candidates and hiring managers alike.