The role of luck in the job search

Recently I sat on a panel of 5 individuals who just went through a career transition. As we all told our stories every single panelist at some point said something similar: without a little luck or good fortune in their job search, they wouldn’t have ended up being successful in their job search
Yes, you need to work hard, network your butt off, make connections and prepare for your interviews, but even if you do all of those things you may not find success right away. At some point in every successful job search, a little bit of luck happens that helps the bounces go the right way. An old colleague who makes a referral. An interviewer who shares the same passion for a hobby or activity. Or a tip on a job posting from a friend. This doesn’t invalidate your hard work and preparation, but it gives you a leg up that you sometimes need in a process that involves so many things that are outside of your control.
On the flipside, you could do absolutely zero of those things, and apply online to a job and get an interview right away. It’s a bit maddening and somewhat unfair, but that’s the reality of life!
While it might be tempting to roll the dice and not put in any efforts, time and time again when I work with clients on their job search I notice an interesting trend: While hard work doesn’t guarantee anything, the people who prepare and work hard are the ones who eventually get that lucky break. It reminds me of the phrase, luck happens where preparation meets opportunity.
Lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.”


So what does luck look like?

– I didn’t know of the company even existed before a classmate of mine told me about it. I learned and read as much as I could and navigated the interview process and eventually got an offer. My hiring manager told me my passion and knowledge of the company was unmatched by any other candidate.
– The recruiter made a mistake, and thought put me forward for the wrong role. I ended up striking up a great conversation with the hiring manager and she became my advocate in the interview process. Even though I wasn’t in the right city I got the offer
– I was complaining about my job to a friend, who told me her old boss was looking for someone with my exact experience. The job was never posted externally. After I made it through the final round, there was a hiring freeze. My Father ended up next to the SVP of HR on an airplane, and happened to mention my situation. The guy sent a few emails, and a few days later I got an offer
– I moved to San Francisco without a job after graduation and told everyone I knew that I was applying and looking for roles. I reached out to everyone who I had networked with during the year. The first person emailed me back saying someone had left their team and they needed someone with my exact skillset. They asked if I could come in and meet the team, and over that week I interviewed with everyone and got hired.
I didn’t like my job and wanted to start searching but couldn’t find the motivation. I ended up going to a birthday party and mentioning to someone that I was looking to go to a much more established tech company, and that person connected me to his friend who was standing right next to him. He referred me to an open role, and the first guy knew the hiring manager and put in a good word to my now boss. 
I could go on, but at this point I think you get the point. Everyone every now and then needs a little luck, but with the right process, patience and persistence, you’ll be well on your way to making things happen.

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