Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Job Search = Playing the Slots

The two most useless pieces of advice you can give someone who is unemployed are: 1) stay positive, and 2) just keep trying - something will come up.  

This advice is pointless because you can't control the outcome of a job search, and telling someone to stay positive and keep at it only underscores how a job search is less like going after a goal and more like playing the slot machines.  

If a job search could be approached through a typical project management framework, you would have an end date by which your project would be completed, you would have deliverables, milestones, timeframes and all that.  A job search is nothing like that however.  

A job search is exactly like playing slots: everyday you send your resume out into the world (you put your quarter in the machine and pull the crank), and wait for a favorable outcome.  You do this over and over again, all the while hoping for that $100,000 jackpot, but knowing that the odds are way stacked against you.  And the real rub is this: what do you do if you get a $500 payout?  Do you keep it and quit, knowing that the machine may never pay out what you want?  Or do you plow the $500 back into the machine, knowing that you will probably not see a return on that money?   

The futility of it all is enough to make you want to hang it up and audition for Bad Girls Club 4.  And knowing that it's all pointless is what makes it impossible to both a) stay positive and b) keep at it.  Would you tell a gambling addict to stay positive and keep at it because one day you'll hit that jackpot?  Hell no, unless you were the worst addiction counselor ever.  So why would you tell a job searcher the same thing?  

Better advice would be this: 1) Try not to form new addictions during your long periods of down time (addictions to Tetris, Twitter, and talking back to the anchors at Fox News are among the most common), and 2) Use your destructive instincts for good instead of evil - remodel your bathroom instead of throwing plates at the wall, or invite friends over for a barbeque instead of setting your house on fire.  

Wow - I feel better already! :)    

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