Is job search about luck?


in Careers, Coaching, Mentoring

Ask most people about if luck played a part in their careers and many would reluctantly say yes but it feels a slightly intangible force to rest work success on. And sparks debate as shouldn’t it be that it be more a complex interweaving of skills, experience, hard work & networking be the lynchpins of job success.

From application to offer, the role of luck is a factor because it either feels unfair or less real should be ignored at our peril.

Applications are like hedging your first bet

Submitting an application introduces our first encounter with fortune.  The crafting of a compelling CV & cover letter is a deliberate process, yet the timing of its reception is beyond control.  Applications can land amidst a sea of candidates or catch the hiring manager’s eye on a serendipitous day. This initial touchpoint can determine whether your qualifications are viewed thoroughly or merely skimmed over, influenced by factors beyond our control.

Networking & Fortune: Seizing Serendipity

Networking, often hailed as a vital aspect of career advancement, is another arena where luck exerts its influence. Attending events or engaging on professional platforms increases your visibility.   But think about the timing of connecting with the right person who recognizes your potential can hinge on fortuitous encounters. A chance meeting or a shared interest sparked in an unexpected conversation might lead to an opportunity that months of purposeful networking couldn’t yield.

Interviews & Chance: Unpredictable Dynamics

As we are lucky enough to move through the hiring process, the role of luck doesn’t diminish during the interview phase. Preparation is crucial, however unforeseen variables can sway the outcome. Interview dynamics, personal chemistry, the interviewer’s bias, mood & preferences all contribute to the alchemy of decision-making. A candidate might possess all the necessary skills and experience but could fall short due to a minor miscommunication or a fleeting judgment. I didn’t say this was right or even fair. But conversely, luck can play savior by aligning a candidate’s responses with the interviewer’s preferences or striking a chord on shared interests, tipping the scales favorably.

This reminds me of a story I read about Nir Zicherman whom whilst struggling to land an internship had a sliding doors moment in the elevator making a funny comment to the person next to him carrying cups of coffee. That person was his interviewer and it changed the trajectory of his working life.

Balancing Luck & Prep

Whilst this is fantastic does this take away from the essense of one’s efforts & capabilities. Preparation, perseverance & resilience form the bedrock of a successful job search. Luck may open doors, but it’s the candidate’s competence & preparedness that ensure they can confidently step through those doors. Those who actively seek opportunities, continually hone their skills & persist despite setbacks create more chances for luck to favor them.

Moreover, luck often favors the brave or should we say proactive. Taking calculated risks, exploring unconventional avenues, or being adaptable in your approach can create scenarios where luck plays a more significant role. Serendipity tends to favor those who put themselves in situations where opportunities are more likely to arise.

Chance favours the prepared mind

In essence, luck is an enigmatic force that weaves itself into the fabric of job searching, exerting influence at every stage. Acknowledging its presence doesn’t undermine the value of hard work, skills, or qualifications. Instead, it underscores the unpredictable nature of the job market and encourages a balanced perspective.

Ultimately, while luck can tilt the scales, it doesn’t solely determine success. Embracing a proactive mindset, continuous improvement, and seizing opportunities with vigor serve as counterbalances to luck’s capricious nature. By recognizing luck as a partner rather than a sole orchestrator, individuals can navigate the job-seeking process with resilience, agility & a readiness to make the most of those “lucky” moments that come our way.

Ask yourself how much a part has luck played in your career? Or as Serena Williams has said “Being lucky takes hard work”