February 24, 2010

Olympic Lessons for Job Seekers

I have a confession to make: I love the Olympics. I can’t get enough of these winter games.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last nearly two weeks watching luge, two-man bobsled, speed skating, figure skating, even curling.

I find the Games exciting, motivating and down-right inspiring. And while I have about as much of a chance of *being* in the Olympics as I do of sprouting wings and taking flight, I have taken a number of important lessons from these incredible athletes. In fact, I think the Olympics are a perfect metaphor for job seekers. Don’t believe me? Here are three golden lessons you might want to consider applying to your job search:

1. Focus on the fundamentals.

I heard Even Lysacek give an interview the day after he won gold in men’s figure skating. He credited his success to his constant and tireless review of the fundamentals. Sure he ran through the triple flips during practice, but he drilled — over and over and over again — the more basic, building block moves. That constant attention to the details meant his performance was flawless. Any of the great skaters can land a big jump, but some of them are so focused on bigger, better, higher, that they “phone in” the other 5 minutes of their performances. Not gold winner Even Lysacek. His tireless attention to the fundamentals created a breathtaking performance for every single second.

How does this apply to you? As a job seeker, your job search fundamentals are your resume, your networking skills and your ability to give a great interview. Don’t be distracted by gimmicks; focus on these three fundamentals and make sure that every element is flawless. (Click on the links for tips on tightening up your routine in each of these three areas.)

2. Be Prepared to Sacrifice

Olympic athletes didn’t earn their coveted spot on their nation’s team by sleeping in late, eating ice cream and cake for breakfast, and slacking off on their workouts. Quite the opposite! Their work ethic is unparalleled and they are willing to put countless personal comforts and pleasures on hold in pursuit of their ultimate goal.

How does this apply to you? As a job seeker, your ultimate goal is landing a job. A good job. A job you like. A job that pays well. That’s a tall order! To realize your goal, you must always keep your eye on the prize. And that will probably require a lot of sacrifices along the way. For example, frugality is important while job seeking, so you may find yourself having to pass on dinners out and nights at the movie. And much as you might like to enjoy this period of unemployment by staying out late or sleeping in each morning, a winning job searcher knows how important it is to stay on schedule. After all, the early bird gets the gold medal job worm.

3. Follow your passion .

During tonight’s aerial ski jump, the announcers were talking about a 16 year-old American (the youngest American on the team this year) who was watching that very event four years ago. Do you know what she said to herself (at all of 12 years of age)? “That looks like fun. I should try that!” Well, she did more than just “try”. Four years later she was competing at the Olympics in that very event!

How does this apply to you? While earning a living is of course important, doing so doesn’t have to be a drudgery. In fact, quite the opposite! You’re much more likely to earn a great salary when you are following your passion than when you are just punching a time clock. If you have been looking for a job for a while, push pause for a few days and do some soul searching. What makes you happy? What are you passionate about? When applying for new jobs, ask yourself: Will this be fun for me? The JobMonkey is full of fun job profiles, so if you’re looking for inspiration, spend some time perusing our vast content!

While JobMonkey readers may not be gold medalists, we can all still put the inspiration of the Olympians to work in our job search. That way we can be winners for life!

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