Published: Apr 24, 2014

Job searching is not just about landing the perfect job; it’s about growth, stamina, and attitude.  To withstand the ups and downs of the job search, you have to be positive.  More than that, you have to believe in yourself, even if it feels like others don’t.  When I am down in the dumps, I look to legendary NBA player Michael Jordan. While I can’t relate to being an elite NBA player, I can relate to MJ’s positive, can-do attitude.  Here are five lessons I’ve learned from MJ, and five strategies that (if you implement them into your job search) will make you a champion in no time:

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail: When Michael Jordan was at the top of his game, he retired from the NBA to pursue another passion—baseball.  He did so without the fear of failure that stops so many of us from doing what we want.  He returned to the NBA more than a year later and went on to win three more championships. Upon returning to the NBA, he was an older player, and so he had to change his game.  Similarly, as a job seeker you must always be ready and willing to change your job search tactics to reflect who you are and what you want.  For example, a writer could build and strengthen their portfolio by free-lancing and/or finding volunteer editing jobs. If your strength is networking, get out there to meet people and then connect with them on LinkedIn. All job seekers should always tailor their résumés and cover letters to reflect that they have the skills and experiences employers seek.  And don’t stop there! Get on LinkedIn, and tell your story.

2. Shoot and Miss: Michael Jordan missed more than 9,000 shots in his career, and he lost 300+ games.  Although he is known for being a clutch player, he missed 26 game winning shots.  All of this, and he still kept shooting.  Today, MJ isn’t remembered for those stats; he is remembered for the records he set, and the championships he won.  Being denied in your job search hurts, and it sucks, but it’s not the end of the world and certainly not the end of your search.  Believe in yourself and what you have to offer, and evaluate your application materials to make sure you’re competitive.  Shooting and missing isn’t about sending your resume out to 100 employers and hoping for the best.  It’s about taking calculated measures to take aim at targeted jobs.

3. Shoot and Win: Success cannot be achieved without trying, and if you try enough, you will experience both failure and success.  Approach your job search with a “play to win!” attitude, and others will take note of your enthusiasm.  Who doesn’t want enthusiasm on their team?

4. Practice – More Than Anyone Else: Michael Jordan was cut from his high school’s basketball team.  That rejection lit the fire for MJ to prove the decision makers wrong.  He practiced harder than his peers, and the results speak for themselves.  Hone your job search skills, seek information, practice interviewing, make connections, update your social profiles, and thank everyone who has helped you along the way.

5. Succeed: “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan.  Enough said, from the man himself!  You can’t succeed without trying, and you can’t try without experiencing failure.  Let your own rejections light the fire within you to prove to the next employer that you’ve got what it takes to fill their position.

Be the Michael Jordan of your job search by knowing your strengths and understanding your value.  In your job search, you can only control what you present to others.  Put time into tailoring your résumé, cover letter, and social profiles, and practice your interviewing and networking skills with your college Career Center.  These efforts will result in a more successful job search.  No one can take your effort, enthusiasm, or talent away from you.

Good luck! And follow me on Twitter for job search advice and other related tips and tools.


Kaitlin Luna is a Student Affairs and Higher Education professional with six years (and counting) of experience working with college students as a career and academic advisor. Kaitlin is passionate about career development and is particularly knowledgeable about the job search, social networking, personal branding and interview preparation. You can tweet her @KaitlinLuna or find her on LinkedIn.

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