In this post, I’m going to draw a connection between the passion for following a sports team, living and dying with every win and loss, and getting your hopes up and crushed with a job search.
This past weekend my wife and I travelled to Montreal to take in our very first Montreal Canadiens home game. I’ve been a passionate follower of the Habs as they are nicknamed for my entire life, and my wife has followed them since we’ve known each other. So it was a big deal, our expectations were high, and we were pulling for a win to make the weekend experience complete. I’ll add here that the tickets were bought by our daughter for an anniversary present, so we knew we were creating a memory over the weekend for years to come.
I bought myself a Montreal Canadiens jersey, a scarf for each of us, and even had on my Habs socks. Clearly I was leaving nothing to chance. We took in the Canadiens Hall of Fame just prior to the game, and it brought back many pictures, videos, and stories from the teams glorious past. All of this just kept building our anticipation for the game itself.
One of the most memorable moments for me personally was when we emerged from the concessions area and entered the actual seating area overlooking the ice surface. It was like walking into a cathedral for the first time, or like Indiana Jones when he finally makes it all the way to the cavern holding the golden idol. There it was in all it’s magnificence; the famed ‘CH’ logo in red, white and blue on the smooth ice.
The visitors went up 1-0 on a play whereby a Montreal player mistakenly deflected a shot into his own net past the goalie sending the crowd into shocked disappointment. Then later in the game, Montreal tied it and the crowd went nuts. For the first time in my life, I got to rise and cheer with the home side, and we were a collective sea of red, white and blue with happy faces. The game ended tied and went into a 5 minute overtime, which ended with 23 seconds left on the clock and the visitors escaping with a 2-1 victory. Ah, such disappointment!
However, my wife and I knew we weren’t on the ice, and had no control over the outcome of the game, and so as disappointing as it was, we still had a weekend to remember. It was a thrill for us and something we may or may not get to do again, but we had it immediately in perspective.
So how does this differ from the ups and downs of the job search process? Well, for starters, the person doing the job searching does have control over how much effort, (or how little) they put into the search. Be it the number of jobs applied to, a generic resume spread all over town or a targeted resume made for a specific job each time, a cover letter or not, these are but examples that gauge ones commitment to success.
But the decision of whether or not to grant you an interview, and the ultimate decision of whether or not to offer you a job – that is out of your hands entirely. At that point you are simply seating in your seat in section 120 of the Club section, seat 12, waiting for the game to play out. Here, have some popcorn while you wait.
Sure there’s a lot you can do to increase your chances such as following up on your application, clearly stating your value to the organization and what you’ll bring to a team if hired. But in every job search, your future rests with someone else’s decision-making ability.
The difference of course is that my hockey team lost that one game but I personally am not affected other than by the investment of my passion as a fan. As a job seeker, you are very much personally affected by those decisions hiring personnel make one way or the other. One skill you should try to master is the ability to keep an even keel – not too high with your expectations and hopes – and not too low with your disappointments should they happen with rejections.
It’s trying to strike a healthy balance between getting excited about an opportunity that you’d be perfect in, and yet not so invested in picturing yourself in the role that you hit rock bottom if and when you don’t get offered the job or an interview even.
Sometimes it’s a numbers game, and you would have been great in a role and you sold yourself wonderfully in the application stage and perhaps even in an interview. That wasn’t wasted time however if things don’t work out. Every disappointment should be a learning opportunity, just like the Montreal coaching staff will pull that defenceman aside and talk about how to intercept a pass but control where the puck then goes.
And you know it’s funny. Part of me wanted to write the Canadiens before we went and tell them we were coming to the game, and to try harder for a victory. But that’s like begging the interviewer to offer you the job just because it’s you personally.
Do your best in your job search, root for your teams, learn what you can from the bad and celebrate the wins!