In sports, when a team is about to face a tougher opponent, when they are expected to lose, do their coaches have them prepare in the same way? When you're up against a tough business problem, up against a difficult challenge, do you go prepare the same way as for something easy?
Successful teams, competitors, and business people attack difficult challenges differently than the easy stuff. They prepare differently, they train harder, they push themselves, and they try new tactics to put prepare their competition. Better preparation is why underdogs have a fighting chance to win.
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Bobby Knight, 3 time NCAA basketball championship coach, is a great example of this type of preparation. Bobby had solid players who never gave up, who responded to the amazing work ethic that Bobby drilled into their skulls and hearts. His 3 championships with Indiana were teams that rose above the talents of the individual players - these teams were greater than the sum of their parts.
Why? Bobby prepared and played his teams 120% whether they were ahead by 20 points, or behind by 20 points. Because of this preparation and focus, his teams could sometimes erase a 20 point deficit to win, but almost never gave up a 20 point deficit. If you ever watched Bobby screaming in the face of one of his players (on national TV) who let up the intensity when his team was up by 25 points, you understand what I mean by a different type of preparation. Sadly, I could not find any YouTube videos of Coach Knight that are fit for the workplace.
How much would you cheer for an underdog sports team that held just its normal practices, preparing a team that was expected to clobber them in the same way they prepared for easy opponents? Would you cheer for them? Or feel they didn't care, so why should you?
Then why do most candidates use this half-way approach to prepare for their job search? And then why do the same poorly prepared candidates complain and blame the economy for their lack of job opportunities? (Sadly, I had a podcast interview with Coach Knight, but it was also not fit for the workplace).
Sure this is a lousy job market. So why do most candidates approach it in the same way as a strong job market and then blame their job woes on the economy? I see this and hear this every day, in conversations I have with candidates, in comments to my articles, on forums.
Candidates have never had more tools to stand out and differentiate themselves ... yet most don't/won't use them. It pushes most into new territory and past their comfort zone (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/11/step-out-of-your-comfort-zone.html). This blog explains these tools, drawing a road map for candidates who are brave enough to push their own envelope, and embrace the large number of choices we have today to differentiate and stand out.
Ask yourself honestly, how many of these tools are you using in your job search?
- Networking on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter beyond your close contacts? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/12/now-that-im-linked-who-do-i-link-to.html
- Building relationships and having conversations with your network, instead of spamming resumes? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/why-networking-doesnt-work.html
- Heavily customizing each resume for the specific job? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/09/differentiate-your-resume-with-winning.html
- Not relying on cover letters to differentiate, but relying on your resume? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/12/is-your-cover-letter-obsolete-tradition.html
- Gaining inside information on your target companies before you apply for a job? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/11/guerrilla-job-search-tactics.html
- Tracking your resume response rate? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-effective-is-your-resume-heres-how.html
- Creating a ResuBlog, and posting at least weekly? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/05/you-dont-have-to-be-shakespeare-to.html
- Extensively researching a target company before even sending a resume? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/05/4-killer-ways-to-use-research.html
- Creating an online portfolio? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/06/how-online-portfolios-put-you-at-top-of.html
- Building a project plan for your job search? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/are-you-planning-to-fail-in-your-job.html
- Approaching your search as a subject matter expert, not as a generalist? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/02/subject-matter-experts-rule.html
- Creating your social brand? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-use-social-branding.html
- Clearly answering the 3 things an employer looks for on your resume? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/12/3-things-your-next-employer-will-search.html
- Incorporating non-verbal communication into your interview? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/05/see-how-easily-you-can-master-non.html
- Look for problems you are uniquely qualified to solve, instead of looking for a job? http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/03/would-you-stop-looking-for-job-already.html
Yes, the job market stinks. What are you doing about it?
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