A Job Search Is a Lot Like Being a Cubs Fan
I took my daughters to their first Cubs game in Wrigley Field last week. They've been to ball games, but not to the hallowed grounds of my childhood past. They are fourth-generation Cubs fans; little do they know the emotional roller-coaster ride they have just begun.
True Blue Cubbie fans have endured 101 years without seeing their team win the World Series. We've had near misses, but the streak is well preserved. As I watched the kids soak in the experience that draws the fans back year after year, I thought about how being a Cubs fan is similar to searching for a new job. Until the ultimate goal is reached, it can be frustrating. However, there is much to be enjoyed along the way.
The social aspects
Many will tell you the Wrigley experience is unique. You almost always end up meeting new people at the game and often making new friends. It is a group event -- we're all in it together. We all have something in common -- we know how to suffer through tough seasons.
In the job hunt, it is critical to make new friends through networking. A friend of a friend is your friend. Find a common bond first and then see if there's some help you can provide each other.
The bigger picture
My daughters could not appreciate what Wrigley is like from a TV screen. They had been to a big, newer ball park before and when they got to Wrigley Field, the first thing they said is, "It is so small." Indeed, part of Wrigley Field's charm is the "smallness." We're all packed tightly into the ball park (more so in the bleachers). Until you get there, you have no idea what it's like to be in the stands (or the neighborhood) and experience the decades of history that has been part of the Cubs' allure.
In a job search, you will not fully understand the opportunities that are out there by sitting at your computer applying to jobs on job boards. You need to do more. You need to line up informational interviews at companies. At minimum, meet managers for lunch or coffee. Get a true feel for what it's like to work there by asking great questions and understanding what makes the company successful (and a fit for you). If not the hiring managers, talk to others who work there.
Cubs fans are die-hard fans. They've suffered through some famous season-ending plays and series. The expression, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is the hidden meaning behind the more traditional, "There's always next year."
A job search requires a strong will and a dedicated mind. There are pitfalls in the process to be sure -- but with enough dedication to the effort, the payoff will come eventually.
A silver lining
Cub fans truly believe their day will come. Every year, they speculate on how the perfect line-up, a record-breaking season for a few of their pitchers, and a great new player will add up to the season of their dreams. Optimism is a requirement to being a Cubs fan.
A job search effort builds on itself. You never know which contact or e-mail will lead to the interview that leads to the job. You have to trust that something will turn to gold if you keep digging.
There are 162 games in a season and usually several months in a job search. You can't measure success by just one game or one job interview. Like a Cubs fan, keep your spirits high and enjoy the journey as much as possible. And learn from your mistakes and missteps. That's how we all get better.
And yes, the Cubs lost the game we attended, but a nice fan gave the girls a foul ball he caught. There's always something positive happening at Wrigley Field. I hope there is in your job search, too.