The job search one-percent rule

BikingOften times I’ll read a blog post and see a relationship between its message and the job search. Or I’ll take a moment in my life and turn it into a job-search lesson. If you’ve read my posts, you’ll notice I do this with my family or customers.

A post from Paul Drury called Be a Little Better for a Little Longer, in which he writes about the 2012 British Olympic cycling team, got me to thinking about how the team’s quest for gold medals applies to the job search. The job search one percent rule, more specifically.

In his article Paul writes, “The successful British cycling coach Dave Brailsford described it as making a ‘1% improvement in everything that you do.’”

Another line in Paul’s post resonates with me when I think of what makes a job search successful: “Most of the significant things in your life aren’t stand-alone events, but rather the sum of all the times when we chose to do things 1% better or 1% worse.”

When I talk with jobseekers, as well as my kids, they want immediate gratification. (Do you blame them?) But the job search doesn’t work that way.

Rather the way to look at your job search is to determine if you’re going to strive for one percent more or settle for one percent less. The job search is the sum of one percent more or less.

For instance, if there’s a networking event the night after a long day of job seeking, are you going to “suck it up” and go, or are you going to settle for that one inch less and blow it off? We know what the correct answer is; you go.

After you meet someone who can be of mutual assistance your next step is to follow up with a phone call or an email, at the very least. If you fail to follow up, you lose that opportunity; or as I tell my workshop attendees, “You don’t close the deal.” That’s one percent less.

Baby steps, as we call them, are necessary to take in the job search. Failure is something that shouldn’t destroy your resolve. Paul writes in regards to the British Olympic cycling team, “That is where the British success lay. They had a worthy goal (to win the Olympics) and believed in the potential of their system to achieve it.”

In achieving their goal, they experienced letdown and often times failure; but they didn’t give up. This is one encouraging attitude I see in some of my jobseekers; they experience letdown (don’t land the job) but bounce back. I’ll see them a few days later and they’ll have a smile on their face. “Onward,” we’ll say. Onward.

The one percent rule also applies to the interview, where it’s essential you’re prepared with not only your research but also emotionally. Interviewers want people who are enthusiastic about the job and company. It can be hard to pull off this enthusiasm when you’re in a hard place (unemployed).

First impressions play a huge part in the job search. Not only at interviews, but preceding the interviews, as well. I tell my workshop attendees that how they appear in their job search makes a huge difference in the help you’ll receive from others. “Are you more likely to help those who appear positive?” I ask, “Or those who appear negative?” Those abiding by one percent more will appear positive.

Although it’s only one percent we’re talking about, it can be huge. I tell my soccer players that they may be just one step behind the opponent…one inch from winning the ball and then making a play.

Often times we as career advisors talk about the proper job-search techniques, but do we talk enough about effort? Do we venture into that difficult area and address our customers’ attitudes? The answer should be yes, because they’re trying to win a race, just as the 2012 British Olympic bicycling team was.

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