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8 Job Search Tips from the NFC & AFC Championship Games

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09

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Athletics and sports have always produced individuals with traits that employers love to hire: leadership, competitive drive, strategic thinking, coachable, adaptable, determined and team players. This weekend’s NFC & AFC championship games between the Seattle Seahawks/Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots/Indianapolis Colts provided a number of great job search lessons about the importance of motivation, work ethic and determination to success. Below are eight lessons that you can apply as you launch your career.

1. Never Give Up. Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks, is taking his team to the Super Bowl because he lives and breathes football. The Seahawks were down sixteen points with less than four minutes to go and the game was all but declared as going to the Packers. Seattle’s quarterback, Russell Wilson, and the offense came alive, refusing to go down in defeat. Green Bay also didn’t quit, tying the game with an incredible field goal with only fourteen seconds to go. A job search requires stamina, resilience, self confidence and occasionally, a great play.

2. Be prepared for the unexpected. Pete Carroll’s call for a fake field goal attempt and a pass by the holder/punter to Garry Gilliam, a rookie tackle, caught Green Bay by surprise, just as the Patriots play to left tackle Nate Solder surprised the Colts. While you can’t always know how an interview or hiring process is going to unfold, preparing, and being ready, for the unexpected, can help you stay on course. And sometimes, you might just need to have a gutsy play in your back pocket.

3. You need to want to win more than your competition does. Chances are your abilities may be equal but wanting it more often is the difference. Interceptions, dropped balls and fumbles made a huge difference in the outcomes of both games. Brian Bostick instantly became infamous for dropping the ball on Seattle’s onside kick. This one play, which was shown over, and over, and over, changed the momentum, and ultimately, the outcome of the game. When you are job hunting, you need to make sure that you really want the job, because if you don’t, there almost always is someone else who does.

4. Attention to detail matters. Ever notice how NFL players always know where the first down line is and how they have an amazing ability to keep their feet inbounds on seemingly impossible catches? This extreme attention to detail and preparation often is what makes the difference between winning and losing. The same is true in your job search.

5. Go above and beyond what is expected. In both the Seahawks/Packers and the Patriots/Colts games, players broke tackles for critical extra yards and pushed teammates over the goal line on key one yard plays. LeGarrette Blount didn’t let a driving rainstorm stop him, scoring three times on runs of less than 2 yards. That type of focus on the end goal, and extra effort, is what it takes to win. Going above and beyond as a candidate will help you stand out from the crowd. Was your hiring manager’s assistant particularly helpful during the interview process? Send him or her a thank you note too. That unexpected gesture might be the action that tips the decision your way.

6. When you are in the red zone, you have to take it over the goal line. If you’ve made it to the second, or third, interview, that would not be the time to slack off. You’ve got to bring your “A” game every day. Green Bay played incredibly well yet they missed out on important touchdown opportunities in two trips to the red zone, losing valuable points. Remember that every interview, email, and interaction with the hiring company is critical.

7. It takes a team effort. Winning a football game is a team effort and every player is important to the team’s success. Finding a job is not an easy task. You need to use every advantage and tool that you have. Lean into your college career office, family, friends, professors, coaches and past employers for support. Collectively, they have a ton of experience so put it to work for you.

8. Great coaching matters. Both Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll are well respected, winning coaches. They work incredibly hard, understand the game intimately and know how to motivate, and support, their players. If you are just graduating from college and starting your job search, seek out a mentor or consider hiring a career coach to support you. Their experience and insights will help you to navigate the complexities of the job search process.

What ever you do, don’t give up on yourself or on pursuing your goal. And definitely don’t leave the stadium before the game is over or you might miss the most critical, and best part, of the game. Just ask the Seahawks’ fans.

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Photos by Keith Allison & vivi1867

About Lisa

Chief Career Catalyst @C2C, former Fortune 500 businesswoman, dog lover, avid skier, mediocre tennis player, golfer, new SUPer, aspiring surfer, cyclist, yoga & exercise enthusiast, happy wife & home chef. I am a regular contributor to the Bangor Daily News, and have appeared on WCSH6 where I offer career advice for college students, recent graduates and young professionals.
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