Three Career Lessons From The Soccer Field

by Salpeter, Miriam Thursday, May 06, 2010
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Have you ever watched small kids play soccer? It can be a real trip! (Pun intended.) While watching a game last weekend, I thought of 3 lessons job seekers can learn...

Do you know which way you should be kicking?

In the game I watched, there is no goalie in the box. So, sometimes it is tough for the kids to remember which way they should be kicking. (This is complicated by the fact that they switch sides during the game.) Every once in a while, a kid scores a goal for the OTHER team. Ooops...But, 9 of 10 times, the kid is so excited to have scored a goal, it doesn’t matter!

A lot of job seekers are like this. They don’t keep track of what direction they are going, where they want to “kick” and which “goal” is their target. The big difference between job seekers and 4-year olds on the soccer field – it is no joke to “score” for the other team.

Think about this – what can you do to be sure you are moving in the right direction for your job hunt? Are there better ways to track your research and information that you have gathered? If you are not organized, all of your hard work may go to waste.

Do you go, go, go – and then stop?

I can’t tell you how many times I saw even the best players (a relative term when it comes to 4-year olds on the soccer field) take the ball down the field – go, go, go and then, just as it seemed a goal was inevitable – come to an abrupt STOP. On the sidelines, parents had their hands on their heads...WHY STOP? “Keep going! Take it in!,” they shouted. But, it was too late. Stopping allowed another player to take the ball off in the opposite direction. Opportunity wasted.

I’m sure you can envision how this relates to job seekers. Everything is in forward motion, going great. Then, maybe an unexpected obstacle or maybe just nerves forces a stop – just enough to allow things to turn around and put an end to an opportunity.

How can you make sure that you don’t allow (or cause) an abrupt end to your positive, forward motion? Being prepared helps. Why waste all that energy you expended landing an interview if you are not going to give it your all? You need to take the ball into the goal – not stop just as you are planning to boot it in. Think about this when you are in the midst of your search. What can you do to keep moving? Maybe it is networking more (or better). Using social networking tools to expand your loose network? Coming up with a better, more succinct pitch for you and your skills. A better resume – one that helps you open doors AND helps you identify what you have to offer? Obviously, there are a lot of ways to help you stay in forward motion...Take advantage now, before you bring the ball to a stop.

Don’t take the ball from your own teammate

Kids are so focused on getting the ball, they have a tendency to steal it from their own teammates! This is another wasted opportunity, as someone’s forward motion comes to an abrupt stop at the hands (um – feet) of a teammate who should be helping.

Does this happen to you in the job search? People who should be helping you are inadvertently throwing roadblocks in the way? This happens when well-meaning friends or family members think they have something to add to your job search, advice about your resume, or stop to offer information that turns out to hurt more than help? Or, maybe you are facing stressed out family members who are less than supportive of some of the techniques you may be trying to fuel your job hunt. (These are the people who think you should be staying home applying for jobs online all day long and get annoyed when you explain that isn’t the best approach.)

Picture these folks as the kid who takes the ball from his own teammate. The soccer player just needs a little educating, some practice and some self-control. Similarly, your friend who isn’t helping you needs you to explain how he or she can help you succeed. Take the time to do the educating. Share an article about job hunting that proves your point or explains your methodology. Most importantly, though – be sure you are doing everything right. If you are the player kicking the ball in the wrong direction, you shouldn’t be surprised when a team member takes it from you!