HAWKS Basketball and Job Search: a Fresh Perspective!

Last month, I watched my first, live basketball game - the Atlanta Hawks in Philips Arena.  They had a 17-0 winning streak during the month of January. 
As I watched the game, I noticed many similarities between a great basketball game and a successful job-search.

We were invited to the game, by a friend who is an NBA referee.  We had amazing seats with unobstructed sight lines! Our friend was working during the game and analyzing the other referees. He narrated the play by play calls and explained the merits of various strategies. This was an amazing and enlightening experience, especially for a basketball novice. At the end of the game, the two guys who'd sat behind us said "we learned more by eavesdropping on your conversations during the game than in all the years of being fans!"

What I learned. How attending a basketball game can teach you lessons about job search. #Hawks #ATLHawks
#1 Defense is as important as offense. Know your opponent. Think about how to make points and how to deflect your opponents' points. NBA professionals spend hours analyzing game footage. Conduct a SWOT analysis of your competition. What are the strengths, weakness', opportunities and threats that your competition brings to the game? What are yours? What areas can you shore up? If you want to play in the 4th quarter, bring your D!
#2 You need to be prepared for any and every eventuality. GO HAWKS! Hope for a sweep, but be prepared for a squeaker. You will need all of your strength  both emotional and physical for the battle ahead. Use a full-court press. Second place is not good enough in a game or in a job search. Once you're hired, no one ever asks if it was a close decision or asks the 'score.' Once you're  hired  you're the winner.

#3 When Opportunity Meets Preparation. All of the players on the professional sports teams are athletically gifted at a  'genius-level' in their respective sport. They are in the top percentiles of the bell curve compared to the general, population. They are selected for their athleticism, visual/spatial skills, creativity, problem solving and game knowledge. Similarly, once you are in the final round of interviews the competitors who are left are all excellent. They are all capable of winning the job and excelling in the job. You will need both opportunity (lots of job leads) and excellent preparation to excel. Don't leave this to chance!
#4 Strategy, What strategy?  Sitting next to an NBA referee we heard his views about the teams' winning strategy, the way the other referees were scoring and the merits of various plays. Play to your strengths and maximize the opposition's weak points. For job-searching, you will need a career action plan. If you don’t have a plan, guaranteed the other players will. 

#5 You'll need lots of fans! The Hawks are very hot right now and Phillips Arena was full. The players can feel this emotional support and it boosts their level of play. The home-court advantage is real and cannot be underestimated. That's why, I try to arrange on-campus interviews as often as I can for my students. A home court/campus advantage diminishes stress and provides both tangible and intangible support.  The job search is a stressful endeavor, so I'd also recommend that you utilize others'  support and your networks of contacts.

#6 Learn the rules of the game from a professional coach. Attending a live game was exciting but quite overwhelming. I knew the basics but didn't fully understanding all the nuances. A professional, career coach has the same role as an athletic coach. I help clients uncover their  unique skills, analyze their competitive advantage and help them set achievable goals. Over the past 10 years, I've  coached thousands of business professionals on how to compete at a very high level.  This career advising work was especially challenging and especially in-demand during the recent, recession.

#7 Play to the end. Knowing you can’t win every-game. I've attended some basketball games which were real nail-bitters until the final minutes. Sometimes, no matter what you do you may lose to a lesser competitor.  While disheartening, this isn't the end. It's your overall, cumulative effort  (for a season) that is more important than any single win or loss. Keep on going...

#8 Get your mind in the gameHope is not a strategy! Kyle Korver has been in the NBA since 2003. In a career that typically spans 4.5 years, his longevity is not a coincidence. This year he was selected as an NBA All Star for the first time! It takes persistence, perseverance and faith in yourself to succeed. Stay positive, and try to avoid negative self talk. Deal with any emotional baggage from previous losses. The mental component and the confidence you bring to a game or an interview is essential. 
 #9 Game Day! I provide 1 to 1 career coaching and business career workshops on the key aspects of the job-search. My role is exactly like that of an athletic coach. On game day, I'm on the side-lines offering support and last minute tips about interview strategies. But it is up to the players to implement what they've learned. When it's game day or interview day, you'd better bring your best moves and skills. Strategy and tactics without execution will fall flat.

#10 The game goes on...
 Each game is a fresh start and getting mentally prepared is as important as getting physically prepared. There were ups and downs in the basketball game we attended. Similarly your job search will often seem like an emotional rollercoaster. The wait for employer call-backs may seem endless at times. Carry on with your search and don't rely on just one job lead. It's a numbers game. It's essential to keep on persevering and to maintain a positive outlook.

By the way, the #HAWKS won the game!
Check out my blog post about Football - from a Canadian perspective.

I'd love to hear your job-search stories from the trenches. Add your comments and drop me a line.
© 2015 - All Rights Reserved - Sharon Cohen, MA,CPRP. Business Career Coach and Social Media Strategist. 

 "Virtual Career Counseling: helping business professionals, reach their career potential!"
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  1. Awesome information to me because I'm search the information like this... Thanks and regards: sarkari admit card

  2. Muni,

    Best wishes with your job search and career. If you'd like career coaching, feel free to email me directly.

    Sharon C.
    Career Manager