College Football & Job Search: a Canadian’s Perspective!

First a disclaimer. I am Canadian, know nothing about Football, and until last Saturday night had never seen live football. Seriously, I have never seen any live football, not even high-school football. At Queen Elizabeth High-school in Vancouver, British Columbia, we didn’t have a football team. When I tell friends in Atlanta, they gasp, in shock and pity. For us, sport was Hockey! Period. Hockey! Then, perhaps basketball and baseball in that order.

I guess there is a Canadian Football league… but I suspect there are many American players. As a recent transplant to the States, there are some popular Canadian Sports, which I never hear about in Atlanta, my new hometown. Rugby, Lacross or Curling, which even Canadians barely understand. Thus, the opinions contained in this article are based on my knowledge, or lack thereof of football and my 10+ years as a Career Counselor. So here goes...

So, I went to my first football game in Athens, Georgia at the University of Georgia, last Saturday night. I equate the preparations as equivalent to seeing the Queen of England. We prepared for weeks. In line with the cultural mores, we bought red, football jerseys and had them customized. We checked the weather reports daily for the 5 days preceding the game. We analyzed our seat locations and strategized, about how to get a seat with a back-jack.We bought rain ponchos and arranged transportation.

My first game ever, was a night game, in a small college town called Athens Georgia. It's about an hour and a half away from Atlanta, Georgia. Our ride tried to drop us off twice, but the road had turned to a river and we couldn’t get out of the car. All the parking lots were flooded, and closed. So we ran, for what seemed like miles, but wasn’t, to the stadium. It rained the entire time. Not the normal rain, but someone standing on a roof pouring buckets of water – rain.

What I learned. How attending a football game can teach you lessons about job search.

#1 Football time, is not real time. Don’t be fooled like I was! 3 minutes means 1 hour more or less. Every time, I asked how much longer, I was directed to the time on the score board. The wait may seem endless. Kind of like the wait, for employers to call you back, or the wait after you send your resume into the bottomless pit, of modern job-boards – like Monster. Don’t give up. Your time, will eventually come.

#2 You need to be prepared for any and every eventuality. Hope for sun, but bring rain-gear, doubles of everything from shoes and socks, to hats. Bring a rain poncho (hopefully one which covers your backside). Eat the boiled peanuts. Yes, for those of you not from the south, I do mean BOILED peanuts!. The come microwaved in the little green bags. Also, try a slice or two of stadium pizza, for sustenance. Like in a job-search, you hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. You will need all of your strength, both emotional and physical, for the battle ahead.

#3 The game goes on...I was flabbergasted to see the players, all suited up, marching onto the mucky field. “I asked, surely, they won’t be forced to play in this weather will they?” Both my husband and all the men in earshot, who heard my comment, just laughed or snorted. Even the cheerleaders, who were forced to wear head to toe track suits, for warmth, had to provide a show. Yes, I found out, they will be forced to play. Even the marching band, which wasn’t allowed to march that night, had to play. This is kind of like our current economy. Surely, you may ask, people won’t be forced to job search in this ridiculous market, will they? Yes, they will, yes you may be. Prepare, toughen up.

#4 Strategy, What strategy? We weren't sure what UGA's strategy was. When I asked about strategy, there were many grumbles, outright curses and stony silences emanating from my fellow, rain-drenched sufferers. Oh, everyone else was too busy focused on the game, to notice the rain. Though the guy next to me removed his socks and squeezed out an orange-juice sized, cup of water. For job-searching, you will need a career action plan. If you don’t have a plan, guaranteed the other players will.

#5 You need fans. You need lots of fans! There may not have been 90,000 attendees, which the stadium can hold on a good day, but there were probably at least 50 or 60,000. 12 UGA students wore speedo bathing suits/underwear and they each had a letter of the team written on their chest. As they game progressed, they shivered in the cold. The red lettering painted on their chests, melted and trailed down like blood…yuck. However, they had heart, never gave up, kept cheering. You will need your family, your friends, your fellow job seekers and your career advisor more than ever, to be your Fans.

#6 You will need to understand the culture of the team, game, locale. Besides the rain, it was an interesting "cultural experience." I equate American College Football in the South, to Professional Hockey in Canada. Same level of rabid, fan enthusiasm. Though, no fights broke out, which was both baffling and odd, for me? What is the company culture where you are applying for work? What culture do you thrive in? How do you know you fit?

#7 Play to the end. Knowing you can’t win everygame. This time, the UGA team won 20-17, against Arizona State. We scored the last 3 points in the last 5 seconds on the clock! For true fans, it was a nail-bitter and somewhat frustrating. Even Uga, the live,a Bulldog, mascot, looked disgusted with the game at times. Be prepared, since sometimes you will lose. Note: do you know that all previous generations of Uga's are burried in the football field? Due to the rain, I did lose something. I was soaked through my rain poncho, through sweatshirt, t-shirt, through my leather purse, through my cell-phone pouch and it destroyed my cellphone! 4 days later my cell is mostly dry and is slowly regaining function, as am I. Keep on going...

#8 Like with job search, you are either fully in or fully out. Either with us or against us. Don’t go into your search, half committed, or still carrying emotional baggage from your last job loss.

In summation. Torrential downpour/terrible playing conditions, incredible fans! Determination, heart and grit won the day! (not grits another interesting Southern phenomenon, which I shall write about later).

© 2009 -Present. All Rights Reserved - Sharon Cohen, MA,CPRP. Global MBA Career Counselor.


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  2. No Experts Needed wrote:

    Job loss...Been there. Done that. Yep, still 'there'. My heart goes out to those still getting pinked.

    For me, losing my job was one of those defining moments in life. I knew I had a choice: I could choose to lose my way (my mind) or rise to the challenge and follow what my Spirit tells me to do, always remembering that I am more than a statistic on the news.

    I'll share with you what I was told the day I got "set free" (laid off) from my job: "This is a new chapter in your life. WRITE ONE HELL OF A CHAPTER!" And I did just that! Will you?
    Yes, times are tough, but it doesn't mean that we can't still 'give back' to one another. This is simply my way...

    take care,

    Louise Lewis, author No Experts Needed!

    Duncan Mathison (author of Unlock the Hidden Job Market) wrote:

    This is great and could not be truer!

    This market is so different than it was two years ago when a snappy resume, a couple of connections and dozens of postings on-line made unemployment short and sweet. But today... slogging through the rain in a muddy field is a perfect perspective. But having a game plan helps - and targeting the unpublished "hidden jobs" requires a new playbook.

    Sharon B Cohen in reply to Duncan Mathison

    Hello Duncan,

    You have understood my analogy perfectly! What is the "new" playbook for Job Search?
    Duncan Mathison wrote in reply to Sharon B Cohen

    Sharon -
    The new playbook is called "an end-run". To win in this market I think job seekers have to do an end run around the middle where people are being crushed chasing after jobs after they have been published or posted. This requires initative to meet and connect with employers who have the potential to hire your talents. This means networking skills have to be upgraded, avoid the networking mixers, and using new tools beyond a resume

    (I think resumes should be left home and a different type of document should be taken such as a "Targeted Opportunity Profile") and that meetings with potential employers and networking contacts need to be run more like a business meeting than a social encounter. Just published a book by Financial Times Press targeted to job search in this awful economy


  3. Sharon,
    Thanks for this post. It is sheer brilliance!
    The best thing about job search is that you never know how close you are. For all you know, you could be one meeting away from the opportunity to take you many steps ahead in the career. But, that happens only if the person is 'always ready' and smiling and upbeat. No one wants half-heart smile in the office.
    -Please write more, Sharon.