Career Advice

Land A Job: Tips To Make Your Own Luck

If you want luck in your job hunt this fall, make your own luck, and develop it the way you’d train for a marathon.

If that sounds like a lot of hard work and dedication, it certainly is.

“They need to be mentally prepared and physically prepared,” said Susanne Goldstein, author of Carry A Paintbrush: How To Be the Artistic Director Of Your Own Career. Her career has moved from filmmaker to consultant to web designer to her current efforts as a business strategist and career coach to “help people and businesses survive and thrive.”

Her central message sounds simple, almost magical: Bring along an imaginary bucket and paintbrush, so when you see an opportunity, you paint a doorway.

“Create an opportunity for something lucky to happen,” she says.

She did this herself years ago as a student when she wanted to break into London’s West End theaters – and knew no one who could help or introduce her to decision makers. In Carry a Paintbrush, she tells of how she spent two weeks waiting in a theater lobby, all day, fetching tea for receptionists and being patient and persistent. She read cast and crew bios from playbills and made it clear she really wanted to work there.

Finally, she got to speak to someone, and was hired as an assistant production manager. She had “painted a door” or created an opportunity for luck to happen.

When successful people say they’ve been lucky, in truth a lot of hard work lies behind that luck, Goldstein said. “It’s just the payoff of all that hard work,” she said, adding that she doesn’t believe in luck, except for playing the lottery. She does believe in jumping in, and jogging a mile as a first step toward plenty of preparation for your career marathon.

Instead of counting on chance, have a can-do attitude and be opportunistic and act boldly to take advantage of possibilities that turn up, said Steve Tobak, writing in a BNET post on traits of successful people.

Here’s some other suggestions from Goldstein on making your own luck:

Be Likable. “If they think you’re wonderful, they’ll invest in you,” she said. Even if they cannot hire you, they’ll introduce you to someone else who may.

Solve Their Pain. Goldstein calls this “being the aspirin” or the solution to the hiring manager’s problem or pain. “It’s all about them and their needs,” she said.

Be Prepared. “Prepare ten times smarter than anyone else,” she writes in Carry a Paintbrush.  Know how you’ll answer the tough questions. Know the background of the key decision-makers so when one calls you on a Friday afternoon to see if you’re interested in a temp job, you already know what they’re working on and how they view success.

Networking by 5s. This technique involves asking one person who likes you to suggest five people in their field who will meet with you for five minutes.  Then ask each of those for five others.  When you meet with each one, you ignore your need for a job and learn from the person. Pretty soon someone will know someone who’s hiring – and it will be your lucky day.