Now that the football season is back and my senior year continues to race forward, it only seems right to discuss how to generate the game-winning drive of your job search. It's the two-minute drill. Only 2 minutes remain in regulation, you have possession of the ball on 20 yard-line, no time outs, and need a touchdown to win. You just started your senior year of college, you have a solid GPA, you've held an internship or two, and have shown your leadership capabilities through your organizational involvement in college. Yet, you are on the prowl for full-time employment after college. How are you going to do it? Let's dissect the perfect drive, play by play to ensure that you score that game-winning touchdown.
1st & 10 on the 20
Don't throw it deep just yet. Try a quick pass to the sidelines to move the ball downfield. How does your résumé look? Are you catering it to each job application? Is your cover letter crafted with the right words? Sometimes the basics sack you in the backfield like Jadeveon Clowney against Michigan. Work with your advisor, mentor, etc. to fine tune these basics to gain some yardage.
1st & 10 on the 35
So throwing a quick pass to the sidelines got you 15 yards and stopped the clock. 1:52 is staring you down and you have 65 yards to the goal line. You have some time, so let's take some calculated risks. However, if you wanted to run the ball, it's a tad late for that. A good run game symbolizes starting your career building during your freshman year. Not saying you haven't had over 150 yards today, but now is not the time to pound the ball up the middle. A slant route in the middle of the field would be a good choice. Send an email to some business leaders, possibly even a few at companies you hope to work for one day. In the email, explain who you are, what you're currently doing, and ask if an informational interview or job shadow is a possibility. Even if those are not open downfield, check the ball to your running back and gain a few yards by grabbing a 15 minute coffee break over their lunch hour. Never stop expanding your network. If you want a specific job, the easiest way to understand how to get there is to speak with someone who already has it. So make the call and throw the ball in the middle of the field. You might only gain 12 yards, but at least you're almost to midfield with plenty of time left on the clock.
1st & 10 on the 47
Spike the ball. You just scheduled a meeting with a top executive at the company of your dreams. Spend a down, stop the clock, and prepare yourself for the meeting. Learn about the company, the person you are meeting with, and draft a few questions to ask. Take your time to make the right play call so you can avoid a disastrous mistake.
2nd & 10 on the 47
Just over 90 seconds to play and you have 53 yards to go. What play do you call? I'd say a draw play would be in order. Fake the run and throw it deep. So what does this mean in terms of your job search? Well, think of it this way. Start applying to some positions online, discovering positions you might not have heard of before, but might be the perfect fit for you. While you are in the midst of this time intensive process, reach out to your network, especially those executives with whom you had meetings, lunches, and coffee. This is where your pass down field comes into play. Ask them if they would be willing to speak on your behalf, provide a recommendation, or put you in touch with someone they know that's working at one of your top choice companies. If it works out, you've completed a pass to the opposing 25 yard line.
1st & 10 on the 25
Clock is ticking, with the long play comes the added cost of resetting the line to snap the ball. Now down to 1:10 you have the chance to run the ball again. Head over to your university career fairs during the spring. Many of them happen in February or March. Meet with recruiters, pass on your résumé, and potentially set up an interview during spring break.
2nd & 5 on the 20
You're in the red zone. The perfect scoring opportunity. Under a minute remaining, what are you going to do? Thankfully, you're not in the situation the Titans were in against the Rams in the 1999 super bowl. Throw a pass downfield to your leading receiver. Be a playmaker. Snap. Pass. CAUGHT. Your pass is complete to the 3 yard line. Those executives came through and you landed an interview with one of your top choices. The clock is running so get to the line and spike the ball.
1st & Goal on the 3
Spike the ball. Again, do your research on the company for which you are interviewing. See how the defense is aligning and develop a game plan to beat them. You are so close. You can see the finish line.
2nd & Goal on the 3
It's interview time. You go in with confidence, discuss your attributes because you know who you are, what you do, and why you do it best. You interview them as much as they interview you because, contrary to what some say, the right job needs to be a fit for you as much as you are a fit for them.
You rocked the interview. The job was perfect, the company was perfect, the people were perfect. The play was executed perfectly. Everyone blocked their assignment, you literally walked into the end zone. They even said, "we have never seen anyone so prepared, composed, or genuinely excited in pursuing a career with our company". You showed your passion, never gave up hope, and you took the lead. But, 25 seconds remain on the game clock. Yes, you scored the potential game winning touchdown, but now you must wait until time expires to really celebrate. There's always that small doubt that things aren't always how they seem. That added twist that can potentially ruin a storybook ending. It's a variable you can't control, but have faith. The odds are in your favor. One way to lessen this risk is to send a "Thank You" note to the interviewers. Basically equivalent to a squib kick, the "Thank You" note will not hurt you and may very well keep your opponent from returning the kickoff for a touchdown. Soon enough, the clock runs out, showing 00:00. Your opponent stood no chance. You sacked them in the backfield and now, you feel the cool, crisp taste of victory and success, which is actually blue gatorade. Nevertheless, you did well kid. Take the game ball and display it in your new corner office. You earned it.