Believe it or not, the key to landing a new job might be to think about the search like a football player. No, this doesn’t mean you should tackle someone if a job interview goes poorly, but there are valuable lessons to be learned from our favorite athletes of the gridiron.

After all, football is about a whole lot more than just moving an oddly shaped ball from point A to point B; the reality is that success in football comes from a team of individuals working together to achieve a common goal. Whether you’re looking to win a national championship, reach Superbowl glory or take the next step in your career, here are some invaluable lessons from the world of football:

Game of Inches

It’s an old adage, but it still rings true – football is a game of inches. While the field might be one hundred yards in length, it’s incredibly difficult to take your team from one end to the other all at once. Instead, a more effective approach is to methodically march up the field a few yards at a time. A run that goes for 3 yards here or a pass that goes for another 5 yards there might not seem like much at the time, but string enough of them together and, before you know it, you’re scoring a touchdown.

Finding a job is no different. Submitting an application here and going to an interview there might not feel like progress in the moment, but small victories along the job search can lead to a big win down the road. It’s important to be aware of the incremental gains you’re making as you move forward, so keep track of every application and keep notes for yourself in order to locate areas of improvement.

No One Wins Alone

Tom Brady is a great quarterback, but if he was out there alone with no offensive line to protect him, no receivers to catch his passes and no running backs to hand the ball off to, he’d just be tackling practice for the other team. No matter how talented the individual might be, he or she is nothing without the support of a team.

While your job search might feel like an individual challenge, the truth is that you are not alone. A professional career is made of more than just a list of your accomplishments; it is also a collection of meaningful relationships that drive you towards new opportunities. If you’re feeling lost, reach out to trusted members of your network that can help you by reviewing your application materials, keying you into industry trends or just providing emotional support.

Balanced Attack

If all a team does is pass the ball, an opposing defense can shut that down pretty quickly by committing to prevent wide receivers from catching the ball. If all a team does is run the football, the other team can have all of their defenders line up to block the running back from advancing. However, what happens when a football team is able to do both equally well? Some of history’s best teams rely on this balance to achieve victory.

If you’ve been following one tactic to find a job – say, only applying to positions via online job boards – and are not finding much success, it might be time to find a more balanced attack. In addition to what you’re already doing, consider adding a variety of search strategies to your repertoire, such as informational interviews or career fairs.  A mix of different activities not only gives you a better chance of succeeding, but it can also can add some spice to your day if the same old search is wearing you down.

Find Your Fans

Imagine for a moment how strange it would be to watch a football game with absolutely no fans in attendance. Would a touchdown feel the same without the roar of the crowd? Is the excitement still there without a mascot leading fans in a chant or cheerleaders starting the celebration? The fans that rally behind a team are as important as the athletes on the field; without them, what’s it all for anyway?

Now, this doesn’t exactly mean that you should start printing t-shirts with your face on it and invite your own personal cheering section to your next job interview. What it does mean is that support is important. After all, references matter. You should always be ready with a handful of past employers, coworkers and other influential figures in your life that can speak to your experience and skills. Beyond that, always surround yourself with positive people who can boost your spirits when times get tough.

Everyone Needs a Halftime

Football is exhausting. When you’re not running for your life, you’re probably recovering from being hit by a giant human being. Thankfully, that’s why halftime was created! Fans and athletes alike can take a short rest from all of the action to prepare for the end of the game, recharge and come back to the field energized.

If you’re feeling job search exhaustion set in, give yourself a halftime! During these breaks, great coaches are able to assess the situation, make adjustments and refocus their team for success if things aren’t going well. Caught in a rut? Take a night off to see a show with a friend. Feeling burned out? Take a breather and look at your previous applications with fresh eyes. We all need a break every now and then, and you might just come back feeling stronger than ever as you head into crunch time.

While you might not need to punt, pass or kick at your next job, football can teach us a lot about being a successful job seeker. If you feel like time is running out, it’s the fourth quarter and you need a big play to achieve job search success, consider applying these lessons from the football field to your everyday life! Have any other football lessons worth sharing? Share a comment below!

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