The Super Bowl is a game but, like sports in general, it offers useful life lessons that we can take with us . . . if we only look below the surface. As I watched the game, I saw a number of things. How many did you see?
1. Winning is a team effort. The teams that make it to the game don't get there by accident. There are teams of planners and leaders who are constantly evaluating player performance and performing competitive analysis of the team and its capabilities with others. Scouts are looking to improve it. A GM looks at the draft and player cost to see where he can improve. Trainers and doctors are reviewing medicals. And then the coaches start getting involved.
You need to look at your own career in the same way in advance of when you need to make a job change. What is the market like for what you do? Do you excel, are you ordinary or below average? What can I do to upgrade my skills before management starts looking for lower cost alternatives? What is my real value (and understand that is a changing figure both up AND down)?
2. It is important to network to develop close and effective relationships with other professionals in your field. When management starts looking to hire new players, they are working with player agents who they often know from other negotiations. Doesn't that make the process smoother for everyone?
3. Attack your search like your life depends on it. Teams often come out attacking their opponent on both offense and defense. You need to attack your search with ferocity and not casually.
4. If your plan isn't working, make adjustments. Both teams enter the locker room with concrete feedback about their plan and how it's working or not working. If your plan isn't working as well as you like, change it using the feedback you're getting, just like the pros do. Analyze what is working and what isn't and adapt.
5. Keep a level head about you. It's one thing to play with a lot of emotion on the field, but it's hard to sustain for 60 minutes. Both the Eagles and Patriots came out with aggressive blitzes early in the game and attacking offenses before settling into a rhythm. In job searching, you may start off the search with a lot of fervor, but you need to remember that a search can take a long while. You need to manage your emotions for a 60 minute game and not just the first quarter.
6. Try not to be predictable. A football team that runs the same plays in the same sequence or under the same circumstances becomes predictable and other teams learn what they will do and will out perform them
7. Big mistakes can be critical. It's one thing to be defeated on a play or a series. It's another to make a bad call and be left exposed to a big play at a critical time like the Patriots did letting the Eagles back in the game with a 30 yard touchdown late in the game. When you get to the end of the search, it is best to have an agent negotiate for you, rather than leave you exposed to your own emotional whipsawing; if you aren't being represented by one, try to get input from trusted advisors with real knowledge (not your uncle who knows nothing about your industry but has good intentions).
8. Planning starts as soon as the game is over. As soon as the teams walked off the field, I can assure you that both will be planning for change for the next season and will take steps to rectify perceived weaknesses. What that means for you is that you continue your career development, training and networking even when you've just started a job. After all, the time when you have the most leverage in a negotiation is when you don't need a new job.
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Jeff Altman - Concepts in Staffing
Jeff Altman has successfully assisted many corporations identify management leaders and staff in technology, accounting, finance, sales, marketing and other disciplines since 1971. He is also co-founder of Your Next Job, a networking group focused on assisting technology professionals with their job search, a certified leader of the ManKind Project, a not for profit organization that assists men with life issues, and a practicing psychotherapist. For additional job hunting or hiring tips, go to http://www.newyorkmetrotechnologyjobs.com
If you would like Jeff and his firm to assist you with hiring staff, or if you would like help with a strategic job change, send an email to him at email@example.com (If you're looking for a new position, include your resume).