The psychology of an effective job seeker

Why some job seekers in Canada are more productive than others

Disclaimer: What’s written here is not a professional, but exclusively personal opinion on the mindset of an effective job seeker. The organization with which the author is currently affiliated cannot and will not be held responsible for any misinterpretation of the following text and any consecutive actions undertaken by job seekers.

Jan 22, 2020. The first client I’ve placed has started to work.

I can see now why so many people who work in this industry stick around for decades. It feels good to see how all the hard work that you put into making something happen finally manifests itself in real and arguably life-changing situations.

It feels good when you receive a call from an exhilarated client whose voice previously full of despair is now electrified by a mixture of hope and gratitude and excitement of a newly received offer from an employer. It’s like an injection of happiness into your veins. It’s refreshing and it fuels you to continue your endeavor.

I decided to celebrate my humble achievement by permitting myself to start writing about my experiences.

By all means, I don’t claim that within the short time I have the privilege of working as a job developer (JD) I have achieved a level of expertise high enough to teach others. Luckily for me, there is no such thing as being an expert in my profession. You grow and become more masterful in your ability to place applicants, but at the end of the day, the number of possible scenarios that can unfold between all parties involved is infinite.

I am new to the industry but I don’t see it as a disadvantage. On the contrary, I see the fact of me being a rookie as a positive one taking two viewpoints into account:

  • First, I prefer to think that being new makes me relatively free from bias. I am willing to explore opportunities that others may see as pointless. I truly believe that serendipity is a byproduct of boldness.
  • Secondly, I see being “green” as a chance to share my journey, my personal evolution, and my insights into job development to edutain my readers and later on for self-reflection.

So without further ado here is my take on what makes one an effective job seeker (JS).


An effective job seeker is resourceful. He doesn’t ask JD for all the answers as he understands that the JD does not have them. What he does is he seeks his own ways to educate himself. He is a problem-solver, not a problem-creator. And that is precisely the type of people that get hired.

An effective JS does not expect a JD to present all the answers on a silver plate. He is exhibiting a go-getter attitude by digging up all the information he can to achieve his goals. He internalized on a very deep level that he is the one who must take the ultimate responsibility for his results.

An effective JS understands that a job developer acts as a magnifying lens to his own efforts. Working hard being partially motivated by a desire to impress a job developer is not just logical but also a very gumptious way to make a JD work harder. Any JD would go far and beyond for a client who is doing the same.


There is something interesting about how different people take action on the same kind of feedback.

  • Some people nod while you are having the conversation but introduce no adjustments to their behavior afterward.
  • Some people do the complete opposite of what you have said.
  • Few people are actually good at integrating feedback into an existing worldview and proceeding accordingly.

Effective job seekers are coachable. They are always open to learning new things not only about the world but also about themselves. They welcome the idea of personal transformation, namely, the idea that if you want to get something you never had you must become someone you’ve never been. In many cases, it implies embracing the fact that some elements of your self-identity must be abandoned if they do not help you in a job search even if those elements seem integral to your conception of self.

The quality of being coachable is coming from another simple but crucial quality.


There are several bitter truths that every newcomer to Canada must understand (better sooner than later):

  • It doesn’t matter who you were back in your country. You are starting your life from scratch. Be prepared to humble yourself and start from an entry-level position if that’s what it takes to get back into your industry. If you are who you say you are, you will be ‘flying’ once you have 1 year of Canadian experience under your belt.
  • Your success in building a new life depends on your ability to adjust your expectations to the reality of the job market. In some situations, it means to swallow your ego. Sometimes it means to surrender everything you have known about yourself up to date and rethink what you are and what you want to become.
  • The world owes you nothing. If you haven’t understood it by the time you are old enough to seek employment, I have bad news for you — there is a fundamental error in your self-perception. Here is the truth. Your potential to get hired is directly proportionate to your ability to solve a specific problem. Your soft skills such as an ability to communicate with people, an ability to present yourself, and overall social intelligence are also vitally important.

There is one more important quality that comes from humility.

People who are effective in their job search are polite. An effective JS never demands other people to give him a job. He is careful in wording his thoughts and cautious in exploring his boundaries with the professionals that he happened to cross paths. An effective JS understands — manners open doors, whereas lack of manners shuts them.

Work ethic

An effective job seeker is punctual.

You can’t be late for an appointment with your Employment Counsellor and then seriously think that your EC would feel comfortable to refer you to a JD.

You can’t be late for an appointment with your JD and then think that he would feel comfortable to share your resume with the employer.

And you can be well damn sure, that if you are late for the interview with the employer, you have already given them one big reason not to hire you.

The candidate who has a hard work ethic at work will exhibit a hard work ethic in the job search too. And for obvious reasons that thing alone puts him ahead of all applicants who are “late because of the traffic or missed the interview because the alarm didn’t ring”.

Until you are employed consider the job search your full-time job.


Self-awareness is a trait that distinguishes all highly effective people.

You need to be able to look at yourself objectively and perform self-assessment. Ask yourself the right questions:

  • Who are you and what are you? What kind of impression do you create?
  • Do you seem professional and presentable to other people? Do they see confidence or overconfidence?
  • Are your shoes clean and breath fresh?
  • What is the meta-message that you project when you communicate with others?

Self-awareness is a skill. It can be trained to a degree when you while being immersed in a social situation will be simultaneously observing the situation from the back of your mind. Self-awareness is a core of your social intelligence because it tells you what to say but more importantly what not to say, how to act and react, but again, more importantly, when not to.

Developed self-awareness also implies your understanding that the parameters of your life have changed. You are required to operate outside of your comfort zone and explore unknown territories of what you have thought you are capable of. You are in a new country so ‘do as Romans do’.

All effective job seekers have a very clear vision of where they stand. They know what are their strengths and their weaknesses, and what is their capacity of getting a particular job done.


Here is a rule that I personally follow:

If you don’t ask, the answer is always ‘No’.

That is the principle that is applicable in many areas of our life but in a job search, it is undoubtedly the key to success.

An effective JS reaches out. He is not afraid to knock doors and ask for help. He is taking advantage of all the free services that are available to him but at the same time, he is not abusing the system. He is simply utilizing what has been offered in a very intelligent and considerate way.

An effective JS is proactive. He is cooperating with community services, he is connecting with the professionals in his field, and he is not afraid to expose himself and knock on the doors.

In a sense, confidence is like salt. It can make the whole dish perfect if you add the right amount. Put too little and the presentation will be tasteless. Put too much and the whole thing is as good as waste.

Resilience and optimism

Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do. Where a pessimist sees a closed-door, an optimist sees an exciting mystery behind it and an opportunity to discover what awaits him on the other side. The challenge excites him, and he doesn’t let his mind to give up without trying.

And you’ve got to keep trying.

Being unemployed is a bad place. I know how bad it is from my personal experience so I can totally relate to all job seekers out there. But all in life is temporary. You haven’t been out of a job before, and your current status quo won’t last forever. There is a point in time in the future where you are successfully and happily employed, all you need to do is to continue transporting yourself to that variation of reality.

Don’t let your mind give in to frustration.

Focus on putting one foot in front of the other.

No matter how hard the times are you have to constantly calibrate your mind to make sure it is set on the imminence of your success. Life is tough. But so are you. You are way tougher than you think.

If you are a new immigrant in Canada, you are already one of the most resilient species on the planet. You are a risk-taker, you are a warrior, and you are a survivor who can sustain a great amount of pain without breaking. Stay positive and don’t give up because not giving up is the only way to the job you desire.


Many would say that this quality is irrelevant to this list. But I, however, have a different opinion. Let me explain.

When life hits us throwing us off balance we all need something to lean on. Few of us are strong-minded enough not to feel exhausted by the endless daily battle that brings no result. For the rest of us, one thing remains true — we all need an ‘anchor’ to hold on to when nothing else to support us is left.

That anchor is faith.

It is a deep belief that God or the Universe or whatever you choose to call the supreme power that governs the reality is leading you to the right job for you.

Faith is helping us to reframe the circumstances we find ourselves entangled in into positive narratives. It can help us to reframe a rejection. As someone smart wrote it in a blog post online:

“You are not being rejected, you are being redirected.”

Feed your faith. Pray, meditate, and consume information that sustains your belief that all the good things are coming your way.

Regardless of your life philosophy, the Law of Emptiness works without failure: if you want something beautiful to enter your life, you must first create space for it.

If space is created and it shall be filled. Eventually. Work hard and do what you can but ‘unclench your fist’ and let go of this pathological urge to control everything. Do your part and let the Universe do its.

You will find your job soon. Just keep going.

Here is my list of the qualities that make an effective job seeker. Share your ideas in the comment section, I would love to hear what I have missed.



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Chengeer Lee

Chengeer Lee


Talent Acquisition @ CaseWare | Life Coach | LinkedIn: @chengeer