Jobseeker, are you invoking "The Law of Subtraction"?

Law of Subtraction

You all have probably heard of the “Law of Attraction.” We are naturally attracted to attractive people — not meaning necessarily movie-star quality people but the people whose personalities brighten a room, the person you naturally call when you want to chat, and the person you enjoy spending time with on a regular basis.

What is the Law of Subtraction?

Prior to the popularity of social media, the job seeker with the “bad attitude” was likely to annoy his family members, neighbors, and any remaining friends. He complained about how bad it was, ranted about no jobs, or chastised the last person who answered his call at the employment agency. This was a relatively small pool and it was unlikely that people who were in a position to hire him would hear his whines or attacks.

Today, however, we entered into the world of online conversations connecting us with individuals around the world. Some job seekers seem to be clueless as to who may be listening to their trash talking of former employers, the government, and potential interview opportunities. This is the Law of Subtraction. Instead of attracting people, you are creating a negatively-charged atmosphere.

Ranting about HR policies, interviewers, and other people who are now hired may momentarily lift the job seekers distress but the long range potential for the “Law of Subtraction” to take over the job search is growing with every angry word.

How can you create an attraction-based job search?

  • Save the rants for people you trust. Use the back side of Facebook or Twitter’s direct messages to talk to a select few people when the stress piles up.
  • Stay offline when you are overwhelmed. You’ve heard of “don’t tweet drunk?” Don’t tweet angry either!
  • Engage in positive activity. Volunteering for something you enjoy or have talent in can do many things for you. Helping others has been shown to make us feel good. You will be networking with others and new doors open when we network.
  • Think about what you say before you hit send or enter. If you hold off even a couple of minutes before you post that status or send that tweet you may change your mind.
  • Read positive books, listen to inspiring music, and get exercise. None of those three have to cost money. Visit the library or grab a book you always meant to read off your own shelf. Find music on the web or on the air that you enjoy. And take a walk or do some in house exercise.
  • Make sure your resume and cover letters are value-infused. Sending out resumes simply listing job duties will add to your distress. Take the time to learn how to create accomplishment-focused career marketing strategies to sell your value to the next employer.

When you turn that bad attitude around, eliminate the Law of Subtraction, you will find opportunities starting to come your way. These aren’t going to be easy changes for everyone but it will help to make you the candidate people are seeking instead of the one they wish would go away.

If you need someone in your corner to give you that boost of confidence to create a job search that works, start here at my Let me write your resume page.

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  1. Gini Dietrich on November 29, 2010 at 11:31 am

    This is such a good post, Julie! Coming from a business owner’s position, and of one who interviews candidates, we pay attention to what people say on and offline before we bring them in, even for the first interview.

    We’ve had two instances where we didn’t interview candidates because of what they’d said online. The negativity kills me. You think if you complain about everything online, potential employers won’t look at that to determine how you’ll behave at work? We do. And it makes finding the right talent much easier.

    Just like I told my niece this weekend, when she was mad that her mom was making her wear shoes she didn’t want to wear, let me see your upside down frown!

    • Julie Walraven on November 29, 2010 at 11:36 am

      I love your attitude, Gini, this economy has been hard on everyone and all of us get that but you still have to think before you speak, tweet, or post. Some of my clients have been very successful in landing new positions in this economy throughout the whole period from 2007 to now. A few, despite having me in their corner, have not. I would guess that those are the ones with the frowns on their faces, rants on their tongues, and anger in their attitudes. Employers have choices and today you need to remember that. Why choose the one who is whining?

      • Gini Dietrich on November 29, 2010 at 11:42 am

        Amen! Not me, that’s for sure!

  2. HR Margo Rose on November 29, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I wish all the job seekers in the HireFriday Community would read this and take these words to heart. You really nailed it. Stay positive, keep your digital footprint clean, and make sure that which is traceable to you is what you would want to see on the front page of tomorrow’s news papers.

    Great words of wisdom,

    Margo Rose, Founder & CEO of HireFriday

    • Julie Walraven on November 29, 2010 at 6:10 pm

      Thanks for sharing it out, Margo… you and I know how critical it is to keep your online presence clean and positive.

  3. Executive Resume Writer on November 29, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Law of Subtraction <– that's brilliant word-ology!

    Your 6 bullets of HOW to create an attraction-based job search resonate and are REAL ways that negative folks can (as Gini says) create an upside-down frown.

    We've all felt put-upon and down-trodden, and life IS hard, but spraying negativity across the web has so many downsides. Not only will it impact hiring decision-makers' opinions of you, but it will further fuel your own bad feelings.

    As you advised, vent to a friend 'privately;' then move on to a hopeful place, using pragmatic action steps. Step, over step (applying any or all of your 6 action ideas), job seekers will find the way from darkness to light.


    • Julie Walraven on November 29, 2010 at 6:13 pm

      Thank you, Jacqui, commenting and tweeting it out. It has been a difficult time but one that we all need to work hard at being positive. Thanks for liking Law of Subtraction… it seemed like the opposite of attraction… Word lover that you are!

      I love your last line: “Step, over step (applying any or all of your 6 action ideas), job seekers will find the way from darkness to light!”

  4. Ed Han on November 29, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    And I call myself a wordsmith–I love it! “Law of Subtraction” is excellent!

    It really does come down to Gandhi’s wise words: “be the change you want to see in the world.” If you want more positive things, create them with your words and actions.

    Excellent blog entry, Julie!

    • Julie Walraven on November 29, 2010 at 6:14 pm

      Thank you, Ed! I seem to have made many wordsmiths happy today! I’m glad to be of help. More importantly, if this post reaches one job seeker who is poisoning their future, it has done its job!

  5. Melissa Cooley on November 29, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I love the way you give some specific advice on how to turn around a job hunt that’s infused with negativity. It’s hard when things don’t seem to be going well, but sometimes it’s a matter of “fake it ’til you make it” when interacting with the general public (and especially with key people). Those who are part of that circle of support will understand if there’s some venting during the rough times.

    And thank you for the link to my post 🙂 Volunteering does amazing things for one’s frame of mind!

    • Julie Walraven on November 29, 2010 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks, Melissa! I think any time we get the focus off of us and give to others, we automatically feel better. People who give up wallowing and whining will find out that there are brighter days ahead. (Your volunteer post was a great post – I had to use your search to find it because I knew I read it awhile back!)

  6. Ricardo Bueno on November 30, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Re: “Think about what you say before you hit send or enter.”

    Couldn’t agree more! I also thing that rants and the like shouldn’t be taken on-line, period. They should be saved for one-on-one discussions amongst friends. It’s just that once you thrust it online, it’s there for the world to see and it comes of negative in most cases and well, it just doesn’t look good.

    • Julie Walraven on November 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Ricardo, thanks for stopping by! I agree with you about keeping all rants offline because it will come back to bite you at some point. You have no clue who read your words and said nothing but just made a judgment against you.

  7. Brad Merrill on May 9, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    As a current job seeker (just over a year now) one of the reasons I didn’t have more of an online presence than I did (LinkedIn) was to protect myself from doing something stupid. (there were other reasons as well that I won’t go into here one of which was time) However, I wanted to do something more. Last week, I finally took the plunge and set up a blog. In conjunction with that (maybe a day or two later), I set up a twitter account. You can be sure I will careful in what I say there and elsewhere.