As I job hunt again, I’ve come to realize that the process is very similar to the time I spend in the woods hunting game.
Not….quite the same, but there are some interesting similarities. The first two are pretty self-explanatory, and can be clear to even those who wouldn’t hunt.
- First and foremost, how you’re equipped matters.
Your resume and experiences are similar to your rifle, bow, or kit that you use when you take the woods. As one would not apply for a job as an aviation mechanic with a professional background in education- neither would one go hunting a grizzly bear equipped for rabbit hunting. The odds for success are slim. Very slim. Equip yourself appropriately, and hunt the game you are prepared to hunt.
- How you’re dressed matters.
Go deer hunting in November while wearing a suit, or a job interview while wearing blaze orange and see how you make out. Without the proper attire, you’ll fair poorly.
Now, beyond the physical aspects of how you’re dressed and what you’re carrying, there are some serious mental similarities too.
- Where you hunt can often be based on small leads or hints from friends or even strangers.
Right now I’m in the process of applying for a police department two counties away based on one of their part-timers whom I’ve met once telling me that they MIGHT be looking to hire. Same, I’ve trekked over mountains where someone told me they’d seen a ‘massive 8-pointer there a few weeks ago.’ I have no idea if they’re actually hiring, or if the deer had actually been seen. Likewise I can’t tell if the job’s been filled or the animal harvested…Any lead is a lead.
- Hot trails can end in cold dead ends which frustrate you the most.
My very first deer encounter when I started hunting was with a six-pointer that crossed the path perpendicular to me while I headed up a trail. I took a shot at him and he went down on his front legs before getting up and running. At that range I was sure I’d hit him, and I scoured the woods for well over an hour looking for him or a blood trail…and found, nothing. At all. I’d missed. What should have been a cinch shot was completely blown and my quarry was gone. I’ve also seen deer and stalked them trying to get a shot, only to have them vanish completely.
With jobs, I thought I was a lock for a position a year or so back, and it fell through. I’ve done interviews I thought I’d nailed….only to get no calls back from the agencies. What should have been sure things completely vaporized in front of me. These losses hit hard and can lead to extreme frustration.
- Sometimes, nothing happens for very long periods of time.
Nobody seems to be hiring, or nothing that looks like game moves about in the forest. There have been hunts where I didn’t see chipmunks or songbirds much less deer. Nothing. The woods were completely silent. I’ve gone weeks at a time while looking for job leads and nothing seems to exist. These instances are exhausting more than frustrating. You KNOW there’s a deer out there, you KNOW someone’s looking to hire….but you’re just not crossing paths.
- Sometimes, targets are there, but out of reach.
A deer out of range. A doe while you don’t hold a doe permit. A bear, out of season. A job that you ‘have to know someone to land.’ or a job that you need to be on the right list to even be considered for. They’re there, right in front of you, that can’t be harvested.
- At some point, you may give up looking for the trophy, and just take something to put meat on the table.
A few years back, I harvested a very young buck. He was by no means a wall-hanger, but it was a legal harvest and his venison was just as edible. I didn’t care that his antlers weren’t going to inspire stories around a campfire, I wanted the harvest.
Job hunting….similar. Sooner or later, you’ll not care that the dream job hasn’t come along yet, and you’ll snap at something, anything that comes along as you stare at a dwindling bank account or into the faces of two kids you have to feed. Pride gives way to necessity. I once took a job that required an hour and a half drive each way just because I needed the work.
- Sometimes, it all pays off.
Frozen, dark mornings to get out into the woods before sunup. Endless resumes submitted and interviews done. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, everything lines up. The deer are moving, your timing is right, and your aim is true. Or, the employer is what you’re looking for, you nail the interview, and you get it all right. Someone’s lead pays off, and the trophy buck is where it was foretold to be. The rumor told to you about a job opening was exactly that and you “start on Monday.”
Sometimes….just sometimes….the hard work and preparation mix with luck and your dream job is earned, or that harvest will be talked about for years by a couple of good ‘ole boys at a bar for seasons to come.
I could probably come up with a few more that might end up being stretches, but you get the idea. A hunt seems to be a hunt, no matter the end game. A mixture of aggravation, frustration, and exhaustion, all in the hopes that triumph and success are just over the next hill.
As for me, I’m looking at a number of hills right now. Any one of them could see me land my trophy job, but they’re just as likely to lead to empty woods and cold trails. Then all I can do is move on and look again. Eventually, I’ll be in the right place at the right time.