Stick it to your job search

August 10, 2016

Stick it to your job search

The summer 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are on until August 21. Naturally, they’re dramatic, exciting and completely engrossing. Many of us tune in to cheer on Team Canada (or whichever country you’re rooting for), and to witness incredible feats of endurance, strength and sportsmanship. The Olympics, of course, are all about excellence.

Yet, amidst the athletes going for gold, there are plenty of world-class participants who mess up or wipe out and completely miss their chance at medalling. Canadian swimmer Dominique Bouchard, for instance, didn’t qualify for London 2012 by less than half a second. Instead of giving up her Olympic dreams, she swam on and is now competing in Rio.

Athletes inspire us to reach our fullest potential, but they can also teach us how to lose gracefully, to learn from our mistakes and to persevere through seemingly insurmountable obstacles—all vital lessons to keep in mind while in the throws of a stressful job search.

It’s okay to fail

Earlier this year, a professor at Princeton University published a CV of failures. By compiling a long list of his rejections, he demonstrated that even those who seem successful deal with lots of disappointment.

Early in his academic career, he didn’t get into a Bachelor of Arts program at the London School of Economics. He could’ve given up his ivory tower dreams then, but instead he moved on. And despite his many letdowns, he still maintains an illustrious career.

Job-hunting works in a similar fashion. While many experts recommend against applying to each and every posting you see, you usually have to send out numerous applications before an employer bites. Sometimes, you might even make it to the interview round, or be amongst the top few candidates for a position, and not get the job.

Luckily, you can gain valuable insight from each rejection. Seek out feedback from your interviewers—how are you supposed to change if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong? If you’re not getting any interviews in the first place, try to reach out to potential employers to find out exactly what you need to do in order to get noticed.

You don’t need to get gold in everything

We often try to avoid activities and tasks we’re bad at. And events such as the Olympics reinforce the notion that we should strive to be the absolute best at everything we do.

While searching for a job, it’s easy to focus only on your accomplishments or gold medal achievements. But it’s equally important to illustrate to employers that you’re an actual human being with a varied range of interests and skills—that’s what makes you a good hire. By understanding your weaknesses, and learning how to work within them, you become a more valuable employee who’s able to make meaningful contributions at the office.

No one expects you to be perfect at everything, so maintaining a willingness to try new things and master new skills is essential, especially early on in your career.

Pick up the pieces 

If you’re always scared of failing, you won’t get very far. In ScienceMag, David G. Jensen talks about how this can hinder you from advancing in your career. Instead, he recommends to always keep moving. “Don’t stagnate,” he says. “Action—almost any type—acts like a balm on your fear.” Even if your job search is frustrating, resist the temptation to kick up your feet and procrastinate. Keep going.

Athletes pick themselves up after they fall down—literally. Just as Dominque Bouchard slipped, British gymnast Ellie Downie fell during the qualifying rounds earlier this week. But she got back up, continued her floor routine and helped team Great Britain vie for a medal. While it may be frustrating to fail, you can always try to stick your landing next time.

Written by: Amy Grief

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