I recently spent some time coaching a new college graduate for a job interview. Through a friend of the family this young man (let’s call him Jason) had learned of an interesting job opportunity and had a chance to meet the owner of the business. The informational meeting went well and the owner invited Jason to apply for the job. Jason felt good about his prospects, submitted his application materials, and waited to hear when he would have a chance to meet with the hiring manager.
He was a bit surprised when the owner let him know they would be interviewing candidateS early this week. Jason said, “Since it was through a friend of the family I guess I didn’t think there would be other candidates. Now it feels like a competition.”
I assured him that indeed a job search is a competition and encouraged him to gladly embrace it for the following reasons:
- Any job worth having is likely going to be appealing to other people besides you. If there is an open position and no one else is remotely interested in it, maybe it’s not such a good deal after all.
- The competitive nature of the job search can help you clarify your own career goals and make sure you are on a good path for yourself. How badly do you want this particular opportunity? If you aren’t willing to put a little effort into securing the position, it's likely you won’t be motivated to put effort into performing well if you get the job. And working in a situation where you are not motivated can make for some very long weeks!
- The competitive nature of the job search means that the employer is going to be more committed to the success of the individual who gets the job. When a company expends time and energy to speak to and assess several candidates over the course of multiple meetings, they get a good sense of the talent that is available in the marketplace. By the time they decide you are the one for the job, they have started to invest themselves in your success. If they hire you without comparing you to others it can backfire on you later if they start to feel they made a hasty decision.
- If the job really is a match, the competition will allow you to shine – and it feels great to win a job under those circumstances. To use a sports analogy, let’s say you play on a soccer team and you go to a tournament. When you get there you find you’ve received a bye into the championship round and no other teams have shown up. The officials escort you to the podium and hand you the trophy. You are not out of breath, you’re not sweating, and you’re not dirty. A few onlookers applaud and you think, “But you don’t even know what I am capable of on the field. I was hoping for a chance to do a corner kick this game!” How much will that trophy mean to you?
So embrace the competition of the job search. Do your prep work, go in there prepared to show what you can do, and win that job!