Job Advice

Manage Your Career Like Your March Madness Bracket

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March 6, 2012
Here’s what the process of filling out my NCAA tournament bracket has looked like for the last 5 years:  I sit down at my computer, login to CBS Sportline and immediately fall into a statistics induced trance.  I quickly paralyze myself with the information trying to figure out which picks to make and specifically, which teams are going to defy all statistics and be a bracket buster (i.e. Butler and VCU).   Then after a few minutes of analysis paralysis, I decide that I’m not getting anywhere by trying to learn about all 64 teams in a matter of minutes and making decisions based off of that limited information would be silly.  Heck, even sports analysts that have been following collegiate basketball season after season can’t predict this stuff so why am I trying to do it?  So I carry on about my business and make my choices based on the information I do know and teams that I like.  (I’ll even admit to picking teams because I like their school colors or team mascot.  But don’t tell my husband that, he’d probably be embarassed to hear me say that.)   This year, it made me think that making your bracket picks is a lot like managing your career.  How?

  1. Decisions you make early in the process can greatly affect your overall journey.  I am guessing a large percentage of people who filled out brackets picked Butler to lose in the first or second.  (These people obviously didn’t know Butler’s potential like the rest of us from the Hoosier state!)  Picking that loss cost them significantly!  The same is true in your career.  If you simply just take any job early in your career, even though it doesn’t match up at all with your long term career goals, you are doing yourself a major injustice.
  2. Limiting your Indianapolis job search to only big name companies is a very narrow-minded approach.  In years past I have selected teams to win simply because they’re typically a tourney powerhouse.  However, in doing that I am ignoring the potential of the "underdog" having what it takes to pull out a win.  This is definitely the case in a career search…especially here in Indianapolis.  We are lucky to have a lot of strong small to mid-size businesses that might not be known outside of the city, but the culture and opportunities they provide are outstanding.  If you are only focusing on large companies, you will never have the opportunity to pursue some of those "Cinderella stories".
  3.  Do your research, but rely on your own experiences as well.  I know that a lot of analysts didn’t think Butler could make it out of the first or second round.  However, if you’ve followed them at all the last couple of years, you know that they play with heart and tenacity that is rarely matched by their opponents.  Knowing this, you may have had them advancing another round.  The same is true for companies.  It is important to learn as much as  you can about companies that you are targeting in your Indianapolis job search, but you also need to make decisions based on your own experiences with those companies as well.  If you hear all kinds of praise about a company, but your interview with them is awful, you need to make the decision based on that experience and not just what the "statistics" are telling you. 

So with that information, I wish anyone in an Indianapolis job search much better results than I had with my bracket this year.  Although my results weren’t pretty, I had a great time participating in a couple of pools and am already anxiously awaiting next year!  Which leads me to my last point.  Have fun with your search.  If you make it a chore and a dreadful activity to complete, your journey will not be as rewarding as it could be.