Today’s Big Idea on SelfPerspective:  one of the most important tools in your job search that will accelerate your quest for success.

When someone loses their job, regardless of how competent they are in doing the work, it unleashes a rush of emotions, from the anxiety that comes with feeling overwhelmed and a sense of loss, to even crippling insecurity or depression. Our job is our sense of identity and when we lose that anchor, well it is, to say the least, unsettling. When you add all of these feelings to the likelihood that an applicant for an executive position is going to have four or five rejections before they get a “yes”, it is easy to understand why looking for your next job can be an emotional merry-go-round.

And with this anxiety and insecurity comes a flood of information and advice, some of it conflicting. One executive confided that he felt enormous frustration with the contradictory advice he was getting from friends and experts. He said: “It was as if I was told to simultaneously keep eye on the ball, my ear to the ground, my shoulder to the wheel, and my eye on the stars and avoid sticking my head in the sand. To be honest with all that well-intended career advice I was getting I was feeling like a schizophrenic job applicant.”

This is not unusual.  When you select an outplacement executive coach you want to find someone who really understands the job search process whose values align with your own and who will be an empathetic coach. Someone you can trust to share your feelings and vent your frustrations.  Some outplacement coaches have extensive recruiting experience, others have only been on the consulting side and their experience comes solely from helping people navigate the job search process. There are some good and bad ones from both camps. When you make your selection, find out who will actually lead you on this journey — the person who sold the deal or some lesser junior associate who may, or may not, have relevant experience or up to date insights.

That said, there are almost as many approaches to finding your next job as there are outplacement consultants.

But there is some research that suggests that there is one indispensable tool that every job applicant should possess: understanding of the immense power of journaling gratitude.

From a study in the Journal of Positive Psychology that tracked the role that gratitude played in the lives of an affluent group of students on Long Island, we learned that those who exhibited strong traits of gratitude were happier, more confident, and less susceptible to feelings of insecurity, anxiety and depression.

Executives who suddenly fall into the ranks of the unemployed need all the help they can get. In our outplacement practice we believe that the first step to finding your next best job is to establish a daily routine, just as you would at work. Finding your next job is, after all, your new full-time job. For example, this daily routine should actually begin the night before with the planning of your next day, identifying networking calls should you make, individuals with whom you would like to have coffee, or LinkedIn contacts you would like to connect with.

The next morning you should begin your day by journaling the three things you are grateful for. Be thoughtful, be purposeful, and be sincere. This practice can be, with the right mind-set, life changing. It creates a sense of emotional and mental expectations that will help you through the day.

When executives in the job market encounter setbacks or outright rejection, those who journal gratitude are quicker to recover and they seem, based on experience we have had in our outplacement practice, to be quicker to learn from their mistakes and to land the next best job at a much faster rate than those who do not focus on what and who they are grateful for.

Not all days will be successful but each one must be marked by discipline to do those things that will take you one step closer to finding that job. And at the end of each day, we recommend that you write in gratitude about those events and those people who helped you with your journey.

Sound too cheesy to be true? Perhaps. But it works.

Now here are two other essential job search tips :

First: In a crowded, competitive market job applicants should not rest of their past record of accomplishment. Focus on doing those things that will make you a helpful candidate — helpful to recruiters or prospective employers. Being helpful is another effective tool for differentiation.

Second: When you develop your list of references, most recruiters recommend that you include a former superior, a peer, and a subordinate. When you ask someone to be a reference, also ask for their advice on how you should communicate your value more effectively.  Their insight could be invaluable in helping you shape the message that will set you apart from the dozens of other applicants who are competing for the same job. That insight could be a game changer.

Thats our big idea in career management for this week. If you like our content, I hope you will subscribe. If you didn’t let me know what you think at

My upcoming speaking engagements include serving as a faculty member of the American College of Healthcare Executives Annual Congress in Chicago, March 26-29 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.  Former PWC Partner and now an in-demand executive coach, Dianne Dismukes will be joining in this 90-minute session on Interviewing Skills for Senior Executives. If you are registered for this event, I hope you will join Dianne and me on Wednesday afternoon to learn how to adapt your job search skills to a radically different marketplace.

My new eBook: Recruiting Your Next CEO: A Step-By-Step Guide for Rural and Community Hospitals, is now available for free on our website. This books outlines steps that, if followed, will dramatically improve your organization’s to recruit your next CEO or C-Suite team member.