Let’s point out the obvious — job searches require a lot of willpower and dedication. This is especially true for recent graduates, who often struggle to earn the attention of employers due to their lack of experience.
As the 2014 Talent Acquisition Survey from Jibe found, most job seekers, 80 percent to be exact, find their hunt to be time consuming, and 78 percent consider it to be stressful. What if, instead of dragging yourself to your computer every day and sending out twenty applications, you change your mindset a bit?
Adopt the mindset of an athlete to overcome the stress of your job search. Think of it this way — athletes don’t merely hit the gym once or twice, then walk out and start in the World Series. They dedicate themselves to years of training and conditioning, experience setbacks and upsets, and persevere every single day of their career.
As a job seeker, you are bound to experience negative self-talk, rejection calls, and awkward interview stumbles. But athletes miss shots, fumble the ball, strikeout in a clutch spot, and get knocked out in the first round. What do they do? They get up and move forward.
Let’s take a look at words of wisdom from some of the best athletes and coaches in sports:
Find Your Direction
New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra said it best: “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” In other words, as a job seeker, if you lack a plan, you may not find a career you want. Choose who you want to be and where you want to go.
Start your job search by setting clear goals. Find who you want to work for by conducting research on companies that align with your values.
Also, what role fits your passions and strengths? Let’s say you graduated with a degree in marketing and love social media and sports. An ideal role for you would be a social media specialist for a professional sports team or an athletic brand.
When you have your ideal vision, you have something to compare your opportunities to. This makes the process of eliminating open jobs quicker and easier because you know exactly where you want to go.
Develop and Maintain Confidence
Joe Paterno established himself as one of the best coaches in history during his tenure with Penn State, where he won 409 games, making him the most victorious coach in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history. He had the unique ability to develop athletes to be their best selves, and is often quoted as saying, “Act like you expect to get into the end zone.”
Job seekers need to take this advice and exercise confidence in all career pursuits, especially when you start networking and interviewing. Without confidence, you’ll project a negative energy and hurt your chances of building meaningful relationships or earning a job offer.
Be mindful of your body language. Lacking eye contact, not smiling, fidgeting, slouching, and crossing your arms will sabotage your networking opportunities and your interview. During high pressure situations, like mingling at a networking event or participating in a panel interview, replace your tendency to slouch with standing up straight.
In fact, these adjustments can have a direct effect on how you feel. A September 2014 study conducted by researchers at the University of Auckland and published in Health Psychology found that standing up straight reduces stress. Upright participants said that they felt less fear, higher self-esteem, and an overall better mood.
More importantly, exercise self-care during your job search. Just as athletes do, make nutrition and exercise a way of life. A study published by Oxford University Press in June 2014 found that a group of participants regularly practicing yoga and other physical activities provided evidence of stress relief. By managing your stress, you can further develop this level of confidence that Coach Paterno praises.
Prove Yourself Through Action
From the WWE to Hollywood, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson continues to build an incredible career on the silver screen and in the ring. While his wrestling career has been put on the backburner, it will always be what launched him into stardom.
He said, “Let actions do your talking for you” — a simple philosophy, but a valuable one to follow. Prove your skills and qualifications by showing rather than telling. For example, start a blog, online portfolio, or website where you can demonstrate your expertise.
It’s one thing to say that you’re passionate about the career you’re pursuing, but it’s another to show that passion. Let’s say you’re pursuing a career as a fitness instructor. You can blog about fitness trends, news, and stories about techniques and equipment, and create a community of readers who turn to you for information.
Establish your credibility through a blog or by posting instructional videos online. This way, you can direct potential employers to your online content, where they can learn more about what value you can bring to the prospective role.
Share Your Growing Pains
Another coaching legend, Dean Smith, who lead the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to two national championships and 11 Final Fours over the course of his 36 year career with them, understood the importance of learning from mistakes. “What you do with a mistake,” he said,”Recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.”
As a job seeker, you’re bound to face questions about times you’ve made mistakes. Embrace those interview questions as an opportunity to share your failures and how you learned and grew from them.
Define what failure means to you, then tell your story. End on your big takeaways, then explain how they would benefit you in the prospective role.
Cultivate a Strong Mindset
The late great Muhammad Ali forged an amazing boxing career and led a life of political activism, thanks to his strong will and positive mindset. “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out,” he said. “It’s the pebble in your shoe.”
That pebble is your fears, and they’re holding you back. Fears in your job search can involve fear of facing interviews, writing resumes, and negotiating salary to name a few.
To help minimize these concerns, engage in mental preparation like visualization and meditation. Athletes like Michael Phelps swear by the power of visualization, where he sees himself in the best and worst case scenarios and prepares for how to handle each situation.
Using mental imagery and visualizing what success looks like is a valuable, meaningful practice. Schedule time every day to write visualized situations where you overcome potential obstacles and succeed, or dedicate a few minutes in your day to meditation and other mindfulness activities.
How are you using these wise words from athletes in your job search?
Meshanda King is the Digital Marketing Coordinator of JobsInSports.com, the one place with all the tools, statistics, and information needed to connect job seekers with employers for sports employment openings at all levels.