Are You Mentally Tough for Employment?


Are you ready for the transition to civilian employment? Beyond the tools and skills you need to find a job and promote your military experience, are you mentally tough enough to succeed in the worst job market since the Great Depression?

The problem every jobseeker faces in this economy is not just the lack of jobs, but also the lack of mental skills to persevere until they can find a job - however long that takes. We do a fantastic job of developing your occupational and job search skills, but this is not enough to prevent your self-esteem and optimism from weakening due to the increased competition for fewer jobs, and delays that last for months.

The lack of mental training to deal with these and other challenges is one of the major causes of prolonged unemployment that our society has not systematically addressed. This is despite numerous studies over the past 20-years that raise awareness about the psychological impacts of long-term unemployment. Most recently, an empirical study published in March by the Brookings Institute confirms the longer you are out of work the less likely you are to look for work. Ouch!

Maybe the lack of mental training is why scores of jobseekers have given up looking, and why nearly one third of all US states are borrowing to fund unemployment benefits. It should be obvious by now that you need more to succeed in this economy than just the basic occupational and job search skills.   Consider this topic from the employer's perspective and you begin to see the urgency for mindset training. Like it or not, interviewers generally assume the jobless are unwanted, and their beat down attitudes will contaminate company morale and productivity. This is why employers favor recruiting the employed and view the unemployed as damaged goods. On the flipside, the National Bureau of Economic Research reports jobseekers with an optimistic mindset land jobs more easily, and they are more rapidly promoted. Chalk one up for high levels of mental toughness.

Here is the point. Economists predict high unemployment through 2016. Unless we do more or something different, we cannot expect better results. Jobseekers will continue to struggle. States will remain burdened with high unemployment, but also high costs resulting from the deteriorating mental and physical health of jobless residents. In addition, academic institutions will lose funding for not placing graduates fast enough. Maybe it is time for a new approach to address this old problem.

Check out the new approach Illinois is just beginning. State residents who complete an online mindset course learn how to regulate their thoughts so when harmful emotions threaten to bring them down, they switch to non-negative thinking skills. They up-regulate their optimism and resilience to persevere and perform well despite their difficult circumstances. In turn, this enhances their performance and likeability, thereby contributing to faster placements. Jobseekers win, and so do Illinois employers. Chalk up another for mental preparedness achieved through performance improvement training for jobseekers.

The military, state governments and academic institutions have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking this new approach. The question is not whether they can afford to do this, but can they afford not to? Do the math: $300 or so per week in unemployment benefits X several million jobseekers X 260 weeks through the year 2016. Holy cash cow!

Which do you prefer: The old approach of developing just your occupational and job search skills, or in addition, boosting your mental toughness in hopes of increasing your appeal to find jobs faster? Here is a hint. If we stick to just the old approach, you can anticipate prolonged unemployment in addition to increased taxes for reduced unemployment benefits. You could say the pursuit of mental mastery is a no brainer.


About Jeff Garton Jeff Garton Jeff Garton is a best-selling career author, organization consultant, career coach and speaker. He specialized in Human Resources for the Philip Morris Companies where he led the global staffing functions for Kraft Foods and the Miller Brewing Company.

Jeff is noted for pioneering the field of Employment Mindset to achieve Career Contentment. These topics show you how to have and enjoy a meaningful career despite challenges and circumstances that can't always be made satisfying. His groundbreaking research, published works, and innovative training programs are helping struggling workers and the unemployed rise above challenges posed by the stagnant economy and difficult job market. His efforts to increase people's hope, optimism, and resilience have been featured on Fox Business, ABC Sunday Morning, NPR Radio, the Wall Street Journal, Modern Medicine, Chief Executive Magazine, and Chief Learning Officer Magazine.

In addition to servicing his corporate clients, Jeff is on a mission to expand the existing job search training currently being provided to returning veterans and their spouses by the Department of Labor's One Stop Career Centers. His Employment Mindset training goes beyond the same old employment tips and tools used to find a job, and teaches you how to fulfill an employer's unpublished expectations related to right fit and chemistry; things that if you don't know, you don't get the interview or job offer.

Jeff lives in Chicago with his wife and two teenage sons. You can visit his website at and his Facebook page at If you would like more information about Employment Mindset training, or would like to voice your support for veterans to receive this new training, send an email to:

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