Choosing to be a job hunting success

Alan Ludmer

My clients and friends often give me books and articles on career management.  There is a plethora of such materials and they tend to vary widely in practicality and general usefulness.  However, a recent gift was a winner, and it wasn’t even on career management. 

A successful client of mine knows that I like college basketball and gave me University of Kentucky basketball coach Rick Pitino’s  book, “Success is a Choice.”  Coach Pitino is legendary for his ability to get the most out of his players.  He has developed championship teams at numerous universities.  Coach Pitino attributes his success to “Being able to get people to do things that they didn’t think they were capable of doing.” 

Coach Pitino believes that individuals can make a choice to be successful.  It is not a matter of luck or chance, but that of individual effort and commitment.  Pitino identifies ten steps to success.  I believe that they have significant applicability to job-hunting as well as championship basketball.

1.         Build Self Esteem.  Before we can truly start to achieve, we must believe that our value is worth improving.  In the job hunt, the first thing we sell is the perception of our ability to do the job.  If we feel that we have little self worth, then hiring managers will share our beliefs.  Before we start, we must renew our belief in our abilities and ourselves.

2.         Set Demanding Goals.  Identify your weaknesses and set up short-term goals to correct them.  Your goals must be challenging, yet realistic.  Always seek to stretch yourself personally and professionally.  If you don’t grow, you will stagnate.  I believe that employers like candidates who can demonstrate that they are demanding of themselves. 

3.         Always Be Positive.  Block out negativity.  Let go of the past.  Accept and adapt to change, and live in the present.  Employers are attracted to job seekers who can display a positive can do attitude.  No one wants to hear awful stories about your last employer.

4.         Establish Good Habits.  Good work habits are the building blocks of success.  Good habits include such areas as:  maintaining good networks, appropriate research, and even writing personal thank you notes.  Good work habits can significantly help your chances of job-hunting success.

5.         Master The Art of Communication.  Communicate directly, not through someone else.  Don’t let problems fester. Listen four times as much as you speak.  Make sure that you understand potential employers’ issues and concerns before you start presenting yourself as a solution.  Communication is a two way street.

6.         Learn From Role Models.  Role models should be people you can look to daily for specific traits or insights.  They should be people who can help you.  No one can be all things to all people.  Look for a selection of individuals who have specific skills or strengths.  If you can’t learn a great deal from one individual, try learning a little from a number of people.

7.         Thrive On Pressure.  If no one is demanding a superior performance from you, demand it from yourself.  Your success is in direct proportion to your personal commitment.  Be your own motivator.  I always urge each of my clients to make a daily, personal commitment to their own success.

8.         Be Ferociously Persistent.  Remember the harder you work, the tougher it is to surrender.  The only time failure is truly bad is if you use it as an excuse to quit.  Never, never quit.  Thomas Edison once said that success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.  Remember the parable of the hare and the tortoise.

9.         Learn From Adversity.  Adversity requires that you step back, evaluate, and determine the lessons you can take away.  Our failures can be both monstrously painful, and tremendously instructive.  Develop the courage to learn from your mistakes.  Take personal and productive responsibility for your personal growth.

10.       Survive Success.  Once you become successful, never forget that failure lurks just around the corner.  Create a mental one-year contract with yourself to retain a sense of urgency.  Remember, we all have temporary jobs and we’re all on probation.  When in doubt review steps 1 – 9.  Take nothing for granted.

It is remarkable how similar the secrets to success are for all types of endeavors.  Whether you are driving for a lay up or driving for a critical job interview, the secrets of success are the same; learn to believe in yourself, be tenacious, and look to yourself for answers.  One of life’s great secrets is that we are responsible for ourselves.  Make a personal choice for your own success.

About the author

Alan Ludmer is the president of ARL, LLC; specializing in individual career transitions, outplacement, and career and executive coaching, search/recruitment, corporate marketing and branding. He is the lead consultant for the JF&CS LifeLine Program which has helped numerous members of the St. Louis Community successfully navigate difficult career transitions.  He is a frequent speaker and author on career, transitions, employment issues, and entrepreneurship. For more information contact [email protected] or visit his blog at