Running Offers Invaluable Lessons for Job Seekers
By Stacia Klasen, M.S., Manager of Alumni Services and Experiential Learning
My identity as a runner began at the age of 14 after I joined my high school’s track and cross-country teams. Almost 20 years later, after a successful running career that included several state titles, achieving All-American status in college and completing a marathon, I’m now “retired” from competitive running, but I manage to get in a few runs each week and participate in the occasional 5K. Some of the best times of my life have occurred due to being a runner, along with some really significant, character-building lessons I probably never would have learned otherwise. Now as a career services professional, I’ve realized that many of these running lessons apply very well to one’s career development and, more specifically, to the job search itself. Even if you’re not a runner, the following lessons apply to you!
Practice Makes Perfect
Success as a runner largely depends upon how well you prepare, and spending quality time doing all of the things necessary to be successful. As with running, to get a job, you need to practice. Find an externship opportunity, or volunteer at an organization to gain experience in the field. Conduct mock interviews. Rehearse your elevator speech. Doing all of these things can get you ready for your future job interview or career. At the very least, practicing will help you see these huge events as common and not completely foreign.
It Takes a Team
I once had an argument with someone who said running isn’t a sport because it doesn’t involve a ball or a team. She was right about the fact that there isn’t a ball to kick or throw, but there absolutely is a team. Whether it’s an organized track team or loved ones cheering in the stands, a runner needs the support of others as s/he strives to accomplish his/her goals. The same is true for job seekers. It’s important to have a support system in place or a mentor who will encourage you along the way. In addition, use your network—let others know that you’re looking for a job. LinkedIn is a great place to network with other professionals in your desired field. Often it is the support of those allies that can lead you to your next position or at least your second wind.
Attack the Hills
When approaching a hill, the natural tendency is to slow down. Luckily, I had a great coach who taught me how to attack the hills instead, and in doing so, it became a strength I used to push ahead of my competition. Try to adopt the same mentality for your job search. There will be obstacles and challenges, and your job search probably won’t go 100 percent as planned. You may get turned down for that perfect position, an interview may not go well, or your reference may not give you the glowing review you had hoped for. The best thing you can do is be tenacious in the face of adversity. Focus on your strengths, let the setback go, create a new game plan, and move forward. Consider these situations growth opportunities—they may not seem pleasant now, but they will make you a stronger job candidate in the long run.
Hopefully you’ll keep these running lessons in mind as you pursue your dream job (or your next 5K).
Stacia Klasen, M.S., is a manager of Alumni Services and Experiential Learning at CTU’s Campus Support Center. Stacia is passionate about supporting student and alumni academic and career success. Prior to her current role, she held positions within CTU’s student advising and learning services departments.
Image Credit: Flickr/J R