Job Search Lessons from College Football

Job SearchNetworking

College Football photo from ShutterstockLast week I travelled to see my alma mater play a conference game with my son’s alma mater. Although my team was a 15 point underdog, I was confident they could “beat the spread” and maybe even win the game. We decided to make a nominal wager to make it interesting!

After the kickoff, my son’s team marched down the field on their first possession and made a touchdown, largely based upon their strong passing game. After their extra point, my team received the kickoff and marched down the field the other way for more than 70 yards, largely based upon our strong running game. At the five yard line, we fumbled and lost the ball. At this point early in the game, it looked close. We were one mistake away from tying the game.

When we got the ball the next time, we began throwing more than running, hoping to catch up. Unfortunately, our weak passing game did not serve us well and for the balance of the first half we never once crossed mid-field. We had abandoned our strong running game for a get-rich-quick passing game and, by half time, had scored no points and were significantly behind.

So, what is my point, you ask? My point is that applying online for jobs is like a bad passing game. Try as you may to pull off a long shot and get a job interview and offer, competing with hundreds of other job seekers is a strategy that few find successful. In contrast, effective networking is like a steady running game. It requires lots of effort and persistence, but it builds upon itself and bypasses most competitors who are looking for a get-rich-quick solution. When conducting a job search, doing more networking than applying online will allow you to reduce your competition and increase your odds of success. Ask for one on one introductions, then get out of the house and meet new networking contacts.

Moving on to the second half of the football game, my son’s team marched down near our goal line. With a third down and twelve for a touchdown, their running back miraculously fumbled the ball and one of our defenders picked it up. As the defender began to run, one of my son’s team members stripped the ball away from him and recovered the ball. Within two plays, my son’s team scored another touchdown.

So, what is my second point? A defensive player attempting to push too hard and do too much too quickly is often a recipe for failure. Their actions are similar to job seekers who wallpaper the earth with their resumés, giving resumés to everyone they meet and asking their friends to give their resumé to people they know. This is not networking. It is advertising. When conducting  a job search, resisting the urge to push your resumé on people and endeavoring to get yourself in front of people will allow you to stay in the game and make useful connections. Ask your friends “Instead of giving them my resumé, would you please introduce me and ask if they would meet with me for an informal get-to-know-you conversation?”

The game ended with a 52 to 14 loss by my team, predominantly because they abandoned their running game early in the game and failed to capitalize on opportunities when they came along. I don’t want this type of thing to happen to you in your job search. The hares may scoff at your slow and steady networking, but it is the way most people find the jobs they want these days.

Good luck and best wishes for a successful job search!