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Posted: April 09, 2009

Exec job seekers: Adopt an attitude of gratitude

How an 'entitlement' complex can ruin your career

John Heckers

Today’s business environment is not what it was in the beginning of 2008.

One of the very real changes is that “greed” is no longer seen as quite so attractive as it used to be. Greed and corruption got us in the mess we’re in. Unfortunately, some executive job seekers think that this is 2007 instead of 2009 and are still harboring some counter-productive attitudes.

One of the “new” attitudes that is essential is that of “gratitude.” Let’s look at a few points regarding how this should be expressed and how it can help in your executive job search.

1). It has been shown that those who are grateful not only live longer and have happier lives, but are more likely to get employed and stay employed. Too many people have gone from an attitude of gratitude to an attitude of entitlement. These folks who are “entitled” are often the first people who are let go, as they are seen as “not team players,” and “not company people.” Certainly, an employee with an entitlement attitude would be someone I would RIF long before I would select an employee with an attitude of gratitude. An ”attitude of gratitude”  is one wherein the employee is grateful daily for the opportunity the company is affording him or her, his or her co-workers and life in general. Aren’t these people more pleasant to be around than the “entitlement” folks?

2). Understand that no one needs to employ you. Yes, you have talents and skills. But so do many other people. Employers and boards of directors have many great, talented people to choose from. The choice often comes down to who knows whom and attitude, not qualifications. An executive who is going to have loyalty to the company, a positive outlook even in difficult times and is grateful to the people who hired him or her is an executive who is going to be far more effective than one who believes that, by gum!, the world owes me a living. Far too many people have the latter attitude.

3). Those with an attitude of gratitude don’t gripe. I can tell you that the clients in my practice who are gripers and negative are around a great deal longer than the positive, upbeat ones. This is too bad, as I’d really love to get rid of the negative ones. The fact is that hiring authorities can “smell” a negative person a mile away.

4). Those with an attitude of gratitude express it frequently. I have one client who is constantly expressing gratitude to everyone who helps him, including us. Now, while I’ll give everyone good service, I’ll truly bend over backwards for this individual because I know he’ll appreciate it. Don’t you think employers might have the same attitude? Most of us will do much more for someone who shows that they’re appreciative than for people who either just sit there silently or who gripe when something is wrong, but never are verbal when something is right. Open your mouth and express gratitude when someone is giving you a networking contact, a job lead, an offer or an opportunity. People need to know that they’re appreciated or they’ll get resentful and stop helping you. Thank them in many ways. Thank them often.

5). Don’t betray someone who has been good to you. While I have experienced the old adage that “no good deed goes unpunished,” I won’t stop doing “good deeds.” But I will certainly not help someone to whom I’ve been good and who has then said something negative about me, been disrespectful to me or has betrayed me in some way… at least until they apologize and make amends. Why should I? And, of course, my friends will hear the story about this person and be very slow to help them, too. I think this is the reality with just about everyone. If someone has been good to you, be loyal and support that person no matter what. They deserve it!

These are a few tips on how an attitude of gratitude helps in a job search. Having an overall attitude of gratitude simply makes you a better person. I am consistently grateful and show it to the many people who constantly help me. Maybe that is one reason why so many wonderful people continue to help me out.

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John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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Readers Respond

John, While I agree with your general theme of "attitude with gratitude" it is a two way street. In a buyers market there are those few employers that take advantage of the economic conditions. They remind employees in less then subtle ways that they are lucky to have a job taking advantage of an employees perceived vulnerability. Not a healthy environment for either party and in the long run hurts the company. How would recommend an employee respond to such a situation? By marc on 2009 04 13

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