Perseverance and Job Hunting: Getting Through the Dark Days

I have been a sports fan since I was young. Not a college sports fan; native New Yorkers don’t follow college sports unless they are gamblers (I know that’s a generalization but it is one that is trueof me), but professional sports.

I grew up in The Bronx not far from Yankee Stadium. I played little league baseball where the new Yankee Stadium stands. I was a pitcher and a catcher and did pretty well at both.

There are lessons you learn from playing sports and they are repeated over and over throughout life.

The strongest lesson that I remember being given by a coach was the one on perseverance. Never quit. In sports being labeled a quitter is the ultimate insult. Recently, we watched the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Washington Senators in the post season down to their final out down by a run.

All season long, the Yankees have lost critical players– Andy Pettite, C.C. Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez– and managed to fight to baseball’s best record while playing with “the B team.” In sports, you learn to play hard, develop stamina, get better, practice as hard as you play every day and learn how to win. The same holds true in job hunting.

If you are not someone who is trying to get better at their job every day, someone will eventually be better than you and get the promotion and salary you want.

If you are not trying to develop your job search skills, learning how to network better (that’s a job skill but that’s a topic for a different day), interview better, negotiate better, use social networks better, have a better resume . . . all the big and little skills better, someone will get that job you should have gotten.

It’s easy to make excuses for both failure and mediocrity. That’s another lesson of sports. After all, winners find the way to win and losers find a way to lose and have great excuses for why they didn’t win. It was too hard. They wanted someone who . . . He was 27 and I was 51 and they are biased against older workers. Yep! Lots of good explanations.

A few years ago, the football Giants played the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. No one gave them a chance to win except themselves. New England was favored by 13 and 1/2 points by the odds makers. The betting line for the number of points scored in the game was 54 (the combined score of the two teams was expected to be 54 points).

Yet the Giants walked off the field winning 17-14 in what was though to be a huge upset. They fought for every yard that day and won in spectacular fashion crafting a miraculous final drive with very little time left on the clock, first escaping heavy pressure to throw a drive continuing pass that was caught against a receiver’s helmet then a final touchdown to win the game with very little time left on the clock.

So, take a moment and notice how you have sold yourself short and settled for mediocrity in your job search performance and set out to improve and persevere.

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