What Mike Tyson can teach us about navigating the career search

I was talking to someone about the randomness and luck that happens in the job search, and how sometimes things can get derailed. We can have visions and dreams of the job we want, the company that we desire, and the dream role, but sometimes making that all happen doesn’t go as planned. 

First and foremost, having a plan is a good place to start! Proactively thinking through what could happen helps you identify what work needs to be done and provides a very actionable process to follow to make progress. Please don’t stop that!
Having said that, as Mike Tyson alludes to, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”  Sometimes things get in the way that serve as a wakeup call (or a punch in the face) Maybe your dream company doesn’t have a role for you, or maybe the alum you identified who you hoped would give you a referral didn’t respond to your e-mail –  That’s okay, it just means you have to find another path in.
To do this, draw on inspiration from Rohan Rajiv’s Concept of Plan’s A-F.  Rohan says,
The first and most important assumption I’ll make is that you know exactly what you want to do. Once you do so, construct plans A-F. This means having at least 6 routes to the destination. I say plans A-F because it is highly unlikely your plan A will work. And, as you cycle through them, it’ll become easier to move past F to other alphabets”
When you want to target a new opportunity or destination, come up with multiple routs for how you could get there. Instead of just having a Plan A, you can have a plan B, C, D, E. Having some backup options ensures that if you do happen to get punched in the face, you can get back up and find the best route forward. As an example, plan A might be simply to get your way in through a referral from a colleague, but B,C, and D might look like this:
B – Have an alum connect you to a hiring manager
C – Move across country to be there in person
D – Find other companies who still fit my criteria but are less competitive
The job search is filled with uncertainty and there will be plenty of things that are outside of your control. Having said that, thinking through a number of paths into a company helps you get creative about how you can find a way into a specific company, and helps you prioritize and understand the resources, tasks and people that you need to help you navigate the job search process.
Finally, this is a perfect reminder that there isn’t one clear path into a particular company or job opportunity. Ask 10 people who work at a company how they got their job and you probably will get many different answers.
While it would be nice if there were a magic and repeatable formula for success for finding a job, I’m confident that with patience and persistence the process will yield results. There is something to be said about learning through the journey, but I can appreciate that might not seem so rosy when you’re going through the process. The good news is that thousands of people find jobs every day, and your day will come in due time, especially if you’ve thought out a few different paths to get there.

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