Job searches can be a lot like boulder-hopping.
Case in point: Last week, my husband and I took off on a backpacking adventure along California’s Lost Coast.
It was a great trip, and we covered 26.8 miles that encompassed some breathtaking scenery in rugged territory literally dozens of miles from the nearest house. We were totally unplugged and off the proverbial grid.
Some parts of the trail pushed out onto the beach, which is not as easy to navigate as you would think.
The seaside ranged from easy-to-walk-on sand to deep sand, then to deep gravel, and finally, big rocks at all kinds of angles.
But while I was being present in the moments I was experiencing in such amazing views, my mind kept wandering and comparing the path I was walking to that of a job seeker trying to find work.
And came up with some remarkable comparisons.
Just like this trail, you’ll have some easy stretches in job searches, and then there will be times where you don’t know what is around the next corner.
Will it be smooth sailing on packed firm sand, or will there be a deep stream crossing filled with fear of falling in over my head?
We never really know until we make our way around that bend to find out. You simply can’t let fear hold you back.
Sometimes, you get hit by a rogue wave.
At a number of points on the Lost Coast, there are areas that are inaccessible at high tide. And by inaccessible, I mean that the waves are crashing right up against steep rock cliffs – at least 20 feet above the sand. Not exactly a place you want to end up at the wrong time.
Timing is everything, and even if you carefully watch the tide tables or the waxing/waning of job opportunities at a target company, it may look like the coast is clear to start job searches.
But don’t rule out the random rogue wave (even if the coast is clear) that can sweep in and take an opening away from you. Realize that these rogue waves have nothing to do with you and everything to do with happenstance and other factors you can’t know about let alone control.
The only thing you can do is keep your eyes out to try and spot them before they come in, and don’t get trapped. Always have another way out.
At some point, you are going to have to jump during job searches.
Any time we make a move from Point A to Point B, we have to make a decision to jump based on the best information that we had at the time. We weigh the risks and rewards of making that leap.
But uncertainty sometimes can be your biggest obstacle; hesitating can carry huge costs because sometimes, the opportunity will pass you by. Making that leap of faith based on informed decision-making is the best that anyone can do.
There is no guarantee for a good landing spot.
In a job search, we are never really guaranteed that our decisions work out the way that we hoped them to… and that includes taking that dream job only to find out it is ruled by a nightmarish boss. Or it wasn’t exactly as advertised and end up being like a slippery rock where you can’t seem to grab a purchase?
Where we land, like jumping from boulder-to-boulder on a rugged beach, is a calculated risk unto itself.
Will you have a good foothold? Will you be able to keep your balance after you land? Will the place you land stay steady and not rock suddenly to one side?
There is no answer to these questions. Sometimes, you just have to go for it and hope for the best.
And you know what? The employer is doing the same thing with you… they are hoping for the best that you work out as well.
So the secret of navigating this tough track
Keep firm. Know when to hesitate and re-evaluate, yet at the same time, don’t be so afraid of taking that leap that you end up holding yourself back from the next stop on your career journey.
And as for my experience on this backpacking trip: I have really bad knees and ankles (multiple injuries), so as goofy as I looked, I put on knee braces and plowed ahead cautiously albeit purposefully.
I kept going because I didn’t want my fears to keep me from my intended destination which was practically heavenly with the amazing wildflowers and views.
And neither should you during job searches.