Job search is a healthy balance of “activity” and “attitude.” Activities are creating résumés and cover letters, applying for jobs, networking, and interviewing. The “attitude” part is how well you handle poor responses to résumés you send out, why another candidate was chosen over you, or why you don’t hear back from hiring managers when they said they would call.

If you have a positive attitude, you can quickly rebound from these setbacks. But negative attitudes and beliefs will project onto others and keep you from moving forward. You might be thinking “I’m too old – who will hire me?” even though your interviewer doesn’t have any issues about your age. This negative and stressful mindset will actually prevent you from convincing the interviewer why you’re perfect for the job.

Some say that reciting “affirmations,” present tense statements which you would like to be true in the future, will help you feel better. Ex: “I’m earning $200K annually.” Yet, if you know this statement is false, your mind will argue with “what is” causing you to suffer over stressful/negative thoughts and feelings.

Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, says “Suffering is optional.” She offers a method of inquiry called “The Work”four questions and a turnaround – to challenge stressful thoughts and feelings and diminish their power over you.

Here are the basics:

First, isolate a stressful/negative thought: Ex. “There are no jobs out there.” Then, challenge this thought by asking yourself four questions:

Question #1: “Is that true?” Answer “Yes” or “No.”

Question #2: “Can you absolutely know that it’s true?” If you look closely you might see that it is not true or as true as you first thought it was. Answer “Yes” or “No”.

Question #3: “How do you react when you believe that thought?” See Emotions & Reactions List to Question #3.

Question #4: “Who would you be without that thought?” Allow yourself to imagine what your life would be like without that thought. See Emotions & Reactions List to Question #4 (same document as above; scroll to the second page)

From having questioned the thought, you probably feel better and are seeing other possibilities. Now you’re ready for the turnaround where you’ll restate your original thought to be its linguistic opposite:

Negative thought: “There are no jobs out there.”

Turnaround: “There are jobs out there.”

Ask yourself if the turnaround is as true, or even truer, than the original thought. You might say “maybe jobs aren’t as plentiful as they once were, but there are jobs.”

Next, write three examples of how this turnaround is true. You may recall people you know who landed or have read about recent hires in your newspaper’s business section.

Last, write down actions you’ll take, consistent with this turnaround. These might be making networking calls or attending another job fair.

To begin tackling your negative thoughts and beliefs with the four questions and a turnaround, download a “One Belief at a Time Worksheet” here:

Learn more about these concepts at Byron Katie’s website or purchase her book from

© 2011 Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. All Rights Reserved