More Americans than ever watched this year’s World Cup, joining the rest of the planet for the world’s biggest sporting event. If you took a hiatus from your post college job search to watch the matches, you are in luck. While you were glued to the games, we mined a few job search lessons for you to use now that you have no more excuses to delay getting started on your job search.
1. Being the underdog can be a good thing. The U.S. entered the World Cup with very low expectations to make it out of the “Group of Death”, which included the eventual World Cup winner, Germany. This was a view that was widely held by the fans, the other teams and even the U.S. team coach. When people underestimate your abilities, it serves as a motivator to prove them wrong (“>Costa Rica, for example). Is your ideal job one that seems out of your league? If you really want it, then do everything in your power and more, to make it happen. Always give it your best shot. You might just get a lot further than you thought.
2. Being a star player is not enough. Nor is relying solely on past performance. Just ask Portugal’s Christiano Rinaldo. Your reputation alone will not get you that great job you are seeking. You have to earn it, each step along the interview process. It helps to have a team behind you too, made up of trusted advisors and strong references. Sure, being a standout student academically helps, as does great leadership experience. But if on game day, you aren’t playing your best, your reputation won’t be enough to pull you through.
3. Target positions that leverage your natural talents. Know what your key strengths are and what you are looking for in both a position, and a company. If you are highly analytical and more introverted, it should be obvious, but steer clear of sales or business development roles as those positions won’t play to your natural strengths. A striker’s job is to put the ball in the net. The goalkeeper’s job is to make sure that no one scores against him. Putting a keeper in a striker role, or vice versa, would be career suicide.
4. Be confident but humble. Tim Howard and Lionel Messi are both great players but you won’t hear either of them going on about their individual talents. They always put the team first. When companies are interviewing, they want to make sure that you are skilled and qualified; yet even more important is judging whether you’ll be a good fit for the team and a team player. Most companies are not looking for a superstar; they want full rosters of superstars with great team spirit.
5. Every minute of the game counts. Sit back for one minute, and everything can change. Take a break from your job search and that job you have been hoping would open up might slip under your radar. Slack off like Brazil did against Germany, and you might as well walk off the field. Getting a great job is a full time job and needs to be treated as such.
6. Beware of the “Brazilian effect”. When Brazil’s star player, Neymar, was injured, it was time for the team to retrench and refocus. It didn’t help that their team captain, Thiago Silva, was also on the sidelines for the semi-final match against Germany. It was clear early into the match that not only did Brazil not have a plan B; they seemingly didn’t even have a game plan. As a result, they were stunned, repeatedly, by the German team, losing 1-7 in the most lopsided game ever. Always have a game plan for your job search, and ideally, multiple strategies and different options.
7. Good coaching matters. That the U.S. got as far as it did is in large part to the excellent coaching of Jurgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann is a big fan of holding his players accountable for their performance. If any miss an easy goal, he believes that the fans should demand more. Germany’s coach, Joachim Löw, understood that his team would need a great deal of patience in possession. Good coaches know their stuff; they are patient, natural leaders and great communicators. They know to inspire and motivate their players. They insist on good practice regimens so that their team is prepared on game day. If your job search efforts aren’t paying off, you might want to consider getting a career coach to help you up your game.
8. Patience pays off. Like a soccer match, a job search is about staying in the game, being patient and looking for opportunities to score. Finding a great job usually takes months, and sometimes much longer. You need to keep your stamina, and optimism, for the duration of your search. The key to Germany’s successful World Cup run was their incredible patience. Not only were they exceptionally well prepared, their laser-like focus on finding the moment when the other team took its eye off the ball, allowed them to capitalize. Just ask Mario Gotze. The 113th minute was all his, of course, with a lot of help from Andre Schurre.
So, get up off that couch and go after your career search the way that Tim Howard goes after soccer balls: with laser focus, determination and unfailing optimism. Chances are you might score a goal of you