How positive psychology can enhance your job search

There’s a new trend in the working world today — people aren’t only looking to change their job, they’re now looking to change their profession. And, despite trend more common, switching careers is still hard to do.

Dr. Dawn Graham’s new book, Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success is a resource to help switch careers and do it successfully. Dr. Graham is Career Director for the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where she counsels business leaders on making strategic career choices. A licensed psychologist and former corporate recruiter, she hosts SiriusXM Radio’s weekly call-in show Career Talk on Business Radio 111.

Leveraging her experience as a career coach, she touts that Switchers provides a step-by-step guide, chock full of actionable tips and tools that empower readers to figure out their next move and draw a roadmap for how to get there. She also states that the role of psychology is an important aspect of career success for a job-seeker.

“Anytime there is human interaction, psychology is playing a role,” says Dr. Graham. “Our brains are hard at work behind the scenes engaging past experiences, emotions and other factors into our decisions and actions.”

Dr. Graham offers the following suggestions on how to harness positive psychology in career quests.

Be optimistic

Mindset plays a big role in success, and it’s no different in the job search.

“Plus, likability and trust are key factors in building a strong brand and a network of ambassadors — contacts who are willing and able to introduce you to others and share relevant information with you,” Dr. Graham says. “In fact, research shows that people need to like you before they are interested in knowing about your skills and abilities.”

Be mindful of your cues

In an interview, a hirer will be on high alert for red flags, she says. “While most people are at least a little nervous in an interview, it’s important to understand how these cues are being interpreted by a hirer, who is trying to avoid making a poor hiring decision i.e., loss aversion. This is where understanding the psychology of human interaction and the recruiting process can really help,” Dr. Graham explains.

Many job seekers don’t realize that the hiring process is initially about elimination, not selection, she says. “They are looking for easy reasons to eliminate you initially. All job seekers have a red flag — perhaps it is job-hopping, an absence from the workforce, lack of a degree or being a switcher. The key is to understand your red flag and to be able to confidently allay a hirer’s concerns.”

Be persistent

A job search process can be full of rejection, ghosting, and ambiguity, especially for those switching a career.

“This isn’t a reason to give up. The best goals in life often include a challenging path and the book gives you the step-by-step map to get there, including ways to remain motivated when things get hard,” Dr. Graham adds.

Be open to re-branding your skillset

To successfully switch careers, you need to re-brand your skills, create ambassadors in your network, and get into the mind of your new audience, she says.

“A career switch means a change in identity, which can be exciting, yet also scary, especially if you’ve built a successful career that you’ll be walking away from to become a novice in a new field,” says Dr. Graham. “So you need to be willing to let go of ego, titles, status and maybe even get creative with your finances, commute or travel schedule. If you’re not willing to lose, you’re not ready to switch.”