Job Search Lessons from the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is a game and, like sports in general, it offers useful life lessons that we can take with us … if only we look below the surface. As I watched some of the games, I saw many things that I think are relevant to job hunting. How many have you seen?

  1. Winning is a team effort. The teams that make it to the game don’t get there by accident. There are teams of planners and leaders who are constantly evaluating player performance and performing competitive analysis of the team and its capabilities with others. Scouts are looking to improve it. A general manager looks at the draft and player cost to see where they can improve. Trainers and doctors are reviewing medicals. And then the coaches start getting involved.

You need to look at your career in the same way in advance of when you need to make a job change. What is the market like for what you do? Do you excel, are you ordinary or below average? What can you do to upgrade your skills before management starts looking for lower-cost alternatives? What is your real value (and understand that is a changing figure both up AND down)?

  1. It is important to network to develop close and effective relationships with other professionals in your field. When management starts looking to hire new players, they are working with player agents who they often know from other negotiations. Doesn’t that make the process smoother for everyone?
  2. Attack your search like your life depends on it. Teams often come out attacking their opponent on both offense and defense. You need to attack your search with ferocity and clear goals.
  3. If your plan isn’t working, make adjustments. Both teams enter the locker room with concrete feedback about their plan and how it’s working or not working. If your plan isn’t working as well as you like, change it using the feedback you’re getting, just like the pros do. Analyze what is working and what isn’t and adapt.
  4. Keep a level head about you. It’s one thing to play with a lot of emotion on the field, but it’s hard to sustain for 60 minutes. The teams come out with aggressive blitzes early in the game and attacking offenses before settling into a rhythm. In job searching, you may start the search with a lot of fervor, but you need to remember that a search can take a long while. You need to manage your emotions for a 60-minute game and not just the first quarter.
  5. Try not to be predictable. A football team that runs the same plays in the same sequence or under the same circumstances becomes predictable and other teams learn what they will do and will outperform them
  6. Big mistakes don’t have to be critical. It’s one thing to be defeated on a play or a series. It’s another to make a bad call and be left exposed to a big play at a critical time. When you get to the end of the search it is best to have an agent negotiate for you rather than leave you exposed to your own emotional whipsawing; if you aren’t being represented by one, try to get input from trusted advisers with real knowledge (not your uncle who knows nothing about your industry but has good intentions).
  7. Planning starts as soon as the game is over. As soon as the teams walk off the field, I can assure you that both will be planning for change for the next season and will take steps to rectify perceived weaknesses. What that means for you is that you continue your career development, training, and networking even when you’ve just started a job. After all, the time when you have the most leverage in a negotiation is when you don’t need a new job.


© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC  2009, 2016, 2020



JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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