Baseball’s World Series is an exciting celebration of the sport known as America’s Pastime. It marks the end of a long, hard-fought season played out on fields and in stadiums across the country. Believe it or not, baseball holds a number of great lessons for job seekers:
You have to swing to get a hit. In fact, you have to swing a lot! Swinging is like accessing job opportunities. Job seekers need to uncover lots of opportunities before connecting with one that’s right, just as batters swing at a lot of pitches before connecting for a hit. They don’t just stand there waiting for the perfect pitch. They use a keen eye to swing at anything that looks good.
Don’t swing at just anything! On the other hand, a great player tries to avoid swinging at junk. Likewise a skilled job seeker doesn’t scattershot apply for every job they uncover, including those they are not interested in, not a match for or have little chance of getting. Like baseball, job seeking is about looking for pitches that are in the strike zone, and then taking a swing.
Batting .300 is pretty good. Even the best players can safely expect to strike out at least once in virtually every single game. Striking out may be frustrating, but players do not give up. In the dugout they must think through what happened at the plate and strategize for better success next time. Like baseball players, job seekers can expect to strike out regularly while trying for a hit and they have to learn from each at bat.
A hit is not a homerun. Imagine a hit as being called in for an interview. Then consider how rare it is to hit a home run – getting a job offer. Most hits are caught for an out or thrown to first for an out. Being invited to interview is a great progress. It’s better than striking out. But it’s still a long way around the bases to home plate. Some job seekers get so excited by being asked to interview that they start expecting the first paycheck. When a baseball player gets to first base, he doesn’t celebrate yet. He thinks about what it’s going to take to get to second, and to third, and to home. He’s 100% focused the entire time and never assumes it’s a sure thing he will score.
It’s all about being prepared. Have you ever noticed how much time baseball players spend standing around in the outfield? What do you think they are doing out there? Star gazing? Picking clovers? No. They are fully engaged, prepared, and ready for the hit that will come their way. They may wait through many plays, or even innings, without participating at all. But when the ball comes, they are ready. Likewise, job seekers may face intervals without any action. Stay sharp and prepared for when the opportunities come.
Teamwork is required. Imagine the short stop fielding a grounder then trying to run it himself to first base for the out. It wouldn’t work! Or, imagine a batter hitting a single then trying to make it all the way home by himself. It probably wouldn’t work. In baseball, and in job searching, it’s about having a team you can count on to help you make the big play or run the bases. Your network is part of your team. You need people who are good at catching, fielding, pitching and hitting. A baseball team of all catchers wouldn’t be strong. A variety of network contacts and support is a key to job search success.
The list of life lessons from baseball is endless and the game’s applicability to job seeking is very direct. As you relax with the World Series these next few days, look for inspirations for your job search. You’ll enjoy great baseball, and lessons for a successful job search.