I have spent quite a bit of time in the cycling and recruiting worlds. During my rides, I have had many opportunities to compare cycling to searching for a job.
There is more in common than you might think. One big similarity centers around a simple concept called momentum.
Momentum is what helps cyclists tackle rolling hills.
In a job search, you have similar obstacles and need to use the same approach.
When coming down a hill and gaining momentum before a climb up the next hill, good cyclists keep pedaling hard and do not coast down the hill. This is how we keep the momentum building to roll right up the next hill as it gets harder to turn the cranks.
Job searches have their own ups and downs. Just when you think you have got the job after acing the interview, you come to find out you came in second place. At these harsh moments in the process, it is easy to stop pedaling or coast along. But it is at these same moments, where keeping momentum is essential. So what does this entail?
Cyclists keep going strong during a ride by assessing many aspects along the way. Am I eating and drinking enough? Am I pacing myself and using the right amount of effort? How will I attack the next leg of the trip? If making good decisions along the way, the cyclist will have the right level of energy when hard climbs come along.
When searching for a job, the same kind of critical thinking is required. Ask yourself, what aspects of my job search are getting me to interviews or meetings with managers. You might need to be doing these activities more than the rest. You may need to leverage the activities that work best for your industry. For example, networking is always good advice. However, have you asked yourself if you are networking with the right people or approaching them they way they are accustomed or most comfortable?
Similarly, working with recruiters can have ups and downs, too. Typically, this will be beneficial to your search if you seek out recruiters who hire often within your industry. Be sure to check their web site’s listing of open jobs to get an understanding of what type of clients and jobs they work on.
Keeping or gaining momentum depends not just on evaluating what is working for you, but also what is not. Like cycling, you only have so much energy to give to the effort. You need to stop doing the wasteful activities. Take a look back at what got you this far and ask what is not producing leads, connections, or interviews. For example, as helpful as Social Media can be to your search, spending all your time on the Internet is not wise. Balancing your time takes discipline, but is required.
If you’ve been in the search for a while, have you honestly assessed the effectiveness of your resume or interviewing skills? It might be time to bring in a coach for professional help. Many cyclists do the same, even after years of riding.
While working with recruiters, you might find that you are not getting responses to the information you provided for a job they have posted. This does not mean you should give up on working with them. Realize recruiters get hundreds of emails and calls every month, and it may be hard to respond to each person. If you are an ideal match for the job, they will get back to you.
Sometimes during a ride, a cyclist will introduce a new approach. If they are growing tired, they may have to increase cadence of the pedal strokes in an easy gear to reduce the stress to their legs.
During your job search, have you thought creatively about what other approaches you can take (should you change gears)? Have you considered writing your own blog for more visibility? Have you attended networking functions or talked to your neighbors? Have you investigated mobile media for job postings (yes, there’s an App for that, too)? Have you helped out a recruiter lately by suggesting people in your network who might be a fit for jobs they are working on? It’s a sure way to get a recruiter to pay more attention to you.
In cycling, 99% of the time we are moving forward. And even if you did not get the job from the last interview you had, you are still moving forward, too. Keep in mind that all the effort you have expended is still working for you. Your network is still growing, recruiters have you in their sights, and your resume is still working its way through pipelines. Just because you did not get the job, does not mean your efforts are wasted. You have momentum which is helping you to keep moving forward.
If these efforts are getting you all the way to 2nd place for the job, keep doing what you are doing to get to the interview stage, but find out why you came in 2nd. If working with a recruiter, ask for feedback. You need to understand what you were missing or did not do, so you can improve for the next interview.
Cycling is like any challenging endeavor. If you think you can do it, you have a chance. If you get disheartened by the tall hill ahead, you may not do as well as you could. We have an old expression in cycling: The mind is willing and the body is able.
Are YOU willing and able? Although at times, any job search can be discouraging, you need to take an honest inventory of your effort and keep the momentum going. Keep thinking positive thoughts about your search efforts. All the miles of effort behind you will get you to the top of the next hill and achieve the goal of a new job.
Job-Hunt's Working with Recruiters Expert Jeff Lipschultz is a 20+ year veteran in management, hiring, and recruiting of all types of business and technical professionals. He has worked in industries ranging from telecom to transportation to dotcom. Jeff is a founding partner of A-List Solutions, a Dallas-based recruiting and employment consulting company. He is a unique recruiter with Lean Engineering experience and a Six Sigma Blackbelt. Learn more about him through his company site alistsolutions.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter (@JLipschultz).