Kicking Your Job Search Into Playoff Mode

May 19, 2010

As a sports fan, this is one of my favorite times of the year…playoffs for NBA and NHL teams.   Each year, even if my favorite team has been eliminated, I usually pick a team to cheer for throughout the playoffs.  This year I’m fortunate to have a team near and dear to me in a drive for the Stanley Cup…the Chicago Blackhawks.  Go Hawks!

Just as the seasons in professional baseball, basketball or hockey can be a long grind, you know that the job hunt can be a grind, as well.  If you’re like me, your job hunt season has been a long one.  According to a Rutgers University survey of one thousand people, just 21 percent of those unemployed last summer had found a job by March (see story from the Huffington Post here).

With this in mind, it’s time for those of us still looking for work to kick our job search into playoff mode.  Here’s how:

1. Choose an Anthem. This should be any song that gets your blood pumping and makes you feel more alive and energized.  Throughout history, many professional sports teams have had their own anthem that inspires, entertains and motivates them.  In 2005, my beloved World Champion Chicago White Sox used Journey’s “Don’t Stop Belivin'” and even invited original Journey singer Steve Perry onto the field when they won the World Series.  I also remember (barely) the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates using “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge as their anthem in the World Series.

Some possible anthems could include the “Rocky” theme song, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, “Indestructible” by Disturbed, “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by Scorpions, “Best of You” by Foo Fighters, “Right Now” by Van Halen.  The list goes on, but I would highly recommend something loud and fast to give you a shot of musical adrenaline.

2. Choose a Mantra.  Choosing a mantra such as “ohm” when you meditate can help you focus on your meditation.  The same can be true about using a mantra in the job search.  Saying your mantra during challenging moments can help you to get through these moments a little easier and faster.  Possible mantras can include: “you can’t bring me down,”  “each resume I send out gets me closer to my next job,” “crush it!,”  “make it happen” or “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”  It also might be a good idea to put your mantra on a Post-It Note on your computer monitor.  This might sound hokey or like a new-age approach to your job hunt, but these reminders can help you stay focused in moments when you need it.

3. Increase your Intensity.  If you watch playoff basketball or hockey you know that the energy levels for these playoff games is extremely intense.  Most games are extremely physical.  The teams that usually win are the ones who bring their “A” game and a great deal of energy.  Teams that lose usually appear flat.

Make sure you bring energy and intensity to your job search.  This might mean making extra calls, attending more events and making more contacts.  This is the time to go above and beyond what you are used to accomplishing…time to turn up the tenacity!!

4. Stay in Shape. Oftentimes, the teams that win in the playoffs are the best conditioned teams.  By staying in shape, stretching and preparing, these teams avoid the key injuries and, this ultimately makes the teams tougher to beat.  Their conditioning makes it possible to have energy and intensity when it really counts – during the big game.

It’s also important to stay in shape and exercise during the job search.  This exercise will likely translate to more energy and intensity on your job search.  It will also lead to clearer thinking, better decision making and a more positive, upbeat attitude (see the Wikipedia entry on endorphins here).  A good night’s sleep also helps.

5. Make adjustments. In many ways, professional sports can resemble a chess match.  Teams that make adjustments to their strategy within games are usually more successful.  In basketball, we see this a lot with defensive match ups.  The Los Angeles Lakers might want to have Kobe Bryant guard his opponent’s top scorer, but in doing so, it might take away from how well Kobe can score for his own team.  No matter what strategic decision is made, what’s more important is the team’s ability to make adjustments if a given strategy isn’t working.

The same is true during the job hunt.  If you’ve spent the majority of time in your job hunt responding to online help wanted ads and you’ve gotten little or no response, it’s time to change your strategy.  It’s time to make adjustments and spend more time networking and meeting people.  It’s time to change things up.

6. Stay Focused. In professional sports, good teams stay focused even when things aren’t going their way during the playoffs.  They do not lose their composure or show frustration.  These teams have a deep belief in their abilities, an inner compass that steers them toward victory.

Job hunters must keep focused, too.  Despite setbacks and a tremendous amount of rejection, successful job hunters need to be resilient and have a short memory.  They need to stick to the game plan (or make the appropriate adjustments) and and keep working and moving toward that job.  It will happen.

How about you…how have you kicked your job search into playoff mode?  I’d love to hear about it.

Creative Commons photo of the original Stanley Cup courtesy of scazon.

1 Lance May 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Hey Tim,
These sound like great strategies during a job search. I particularly like the idea of the mantra – as a way to uplift in moments when we might need a bit of that (plus the upbeat songs do that, too!!).

Best to you in the job search…and enjoy the playoffs!!!

2 Tim May 20, 2010 at 10:18 am

Hi Lance: Yeah, I think a little mantra can go a long way. I know when things get challenging for me, I find myself saying the mantra and it really grounds me. Thank you for stopping by and for your good wishes on the search and the playoffs!

3 Ryhen Satch May 21, 2010 at 3:42 am

Re: Mantras
“…these reminders can help you stay focused in moments when you need it.”

Absolutely true. Let me just add that in order of this to work, you must repeat the phrase over and over and over again without allowing any other thought to enter your mind. It must also be done regularly and not just anytime one feels like doing it. By the way, I do hope you don’t mind if I correct you on the term, but I think you are referring to affirmations instead of mantras with your examples. But it’s all good anyway. The same process applies. Nice article, Tim.

May the forces of good always guide you on your journey!
.-= Ryhen Satch´s last post…Levels Of Consciousness: Understand People Like You Never Did Before =-.

4 Tim May 22, 2010 at 8:55 am

Hi Ryhen: Funny you should mention affirmations…when I originally wrote the post, I followed “mantra” with (affirmation). I do agree with you that your mantra or affirmation should be repeated more frequently than I mentioned in the post for it to be most effective. Personally, I probably need to do this more frequently. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts here and for the good wishes. Have a great weekend!

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