It’s no secret that I’m on the market for a new job. When you work in higher education, spring semester = conferences, networking, and job searching. My students are starting to panic as they get closer to graduation, I’m panicking as my position comes to an end, applicants are panicking about applying for my job, and I have friends in higher ed that are also trying to find new positions. Stress is officially in the air. With all this talk about interviewing surrounding me, I’ve noticed something tragic: Not many people even bother to show up.
Recently, Myleik Teele (member of my imaginary entourage) posted a picture on Instagram of a tweet she’d sent out. The tweet read,
“Sometimes the only reason why people win is because everybody else quit. In order to compete you have to be able to hang in there.”
She went on to include a caption that said, “I’m going to win because I’m willing to stand here longer than you. I’m willing to stay in the game well after it looks like I lost. Winners aren’t always the “best,” they simply outlasted you.”
That’s when it hit me: somewhere along the way, we’ve convinced ourselves that we have way more competition than we actually have. The truth is that most people will talk themselves down, they’ll doubt their capabilities, and they’ll quit before they even try. For example, I recently applied for a job in my field. Just before the interview, I started to think that I was under qualified for the position and that I should withdraw my application. I thought to myself, “These people are going to realized that I’m not fit for this job the minute I open my mouth to speak.” But instead of cancelling the interview, I showed up. I gave it my best shot and left it in their hands. Shortly after, I received an invitation for a second-round interview. Maybe I am more qualified than I think I am, or maybe more qualified people had the same fear that I had and decided to withdraw their applications. Either way, I advanced to the next round because I at least showed up.
As a career advisor, I see so many people dim their own lights before anyone has a chance to see them shine. I see people get so nervous before an interview that their energy wilts away as soon as they answer the, “tell me about yourself” question. Sometimes if your heart just isn’t in it, it’s hard to hide your true feelings. But if you do care about an opportunity that you’ve been given, succeeding is as easy as taking two steps:
Step 1: Prepare. Lack of confidence comes from lack of preparation (or education). Do your research, gather all the information that you need, and then study it. But be careful, you don’t always know what you don’t know so ask other people questions. Pick their brains and then research anything that came up in your conversation with them.
Step 2: Show up. Fully, completely, and fiercely. Do not take yourself out of the running; you have to compete in order to even have the slightest chance at winning.