There’s one day a year where folks across the globe join together to celebrate green as far as the eye can see. No, not pay day – it’s Saint Patrick’s Day! This celebration of all things Irish brings to mind a question for job seekers:
“When looking for a new job, is it better to be lucky or good?”
Preparation, hard work and persistence should be the bedrocks of any effective job search strategy. However, all too often, anecdotal evidence of people landing jobs through personal connections or surprise twists of fate can dash even the most committed job seeker’s confidence. After hearing these kind of stories, it can be hard not to think, “What’s the point of trying hard and doing things the right way, anyway?”
Don’t let these rare tales of luck get you down! Here are three scenarios that showcase that, while being lucky might be exciting in the short term, the prepared job seeker is in a better position for sustained professional success:
Lucky: “I just ran into someone I haven’t seen in ten years, and he offered me a job at this company!”
Good: “I’ve been researching my top five companies for years. During one of my regular check-ins, I found out a job opening that fits my skill sets was recently posted!”
You can’t rely on chance encounters! While your network connections can be a great source of support and information, “putting in a good word” can only take you so far. Job seekers should not rely on these individuals in order to land a new job. Instead, regularly researching companies and positions that fit your career goals and abilities will better prepare you to not only be in-the-know when new jobs are posted, but also ensure that you’re knowledgeable about the company when applying and interviewing. It’s all about finding the right fit for you, not simply falling into any job that may be available.
Lucky: “I totally forgot about that phone interview this morning, but I don’t even think the interviewer noticed!”
Good: “My phone interview went so well! The interviewer answered all of the questions I had prepared, and we established a clear timeline for following up. I hope I get called into the office for the next round!”
Some people are better than others at thinking on the fly. While improvising interview responses might be successful now and then, employers can usually tell the difference between a knowledgeable candidate and an unprepared one. Rather than making it up as you go, put in the time to prepare before every interview, whether it’s virtual or in-person. Research important company information, craft your own interview questions and remember to establish a timeline for next steps with the interviewer. The prepared interviewer will be more ready for the next steps than their on-the-fly counterparts.
Lucky: “I blanked and didn’t remember that this technology was part of my new role, but it’ll be okay! I bet I can make it up as I go along.”
Good: “I was a little rattled when they asked about the technical skills needed for the position, but I decided to be honest about it. Thankfully, they will be training me up on the things I still have questions about during my first week!”
Fake it until you make it is not a long term strategy for success. Instead of avoiding gaps in knowledge and hoping you’re lucky enough to have the incompetence go unnoticed, take the opportunity to ask questions when needed. Whether in the interview or on your first day, there is absolutely no harm in acknowledging the things you don’t understand and asking for help. In fact, many employers are committed to expanding their employees’ skills by investing in continued team education.
Do you have any good, lucky stories from a recent job search to share? Join the conversation in the comments below!