Nobody ‘owes’ you a job: How to step up your game so you’re not left behind

I often hear people complain about their job hunting struggles and the relentless nature of the working world that’s leaving them on the bleachers. It hurts to think about all that money spent on a piece of paper, that translates to little more than a participation award. An ‘investment’ in your future that’s proving to be about as valuable as an expired lottery ticket.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that a degree, further study or qualifications automatically transfers to instant employment. Sadly not. A degree merely ticks one out of the many eligibility requirements you need to get to an interview.

The best advice I ever received was from a self-made multimillionaire. He lives by two rules:

  1. Life is a game of numbers. The numbers [of people] you know will tally up a win; and
  2. Always check for toilet paper before you sit down.

As rule 2 is self-explanatory, I’ll explain what I’ve taken from rule 1.

‘Numbers’ don’t mean having 1,896 Facebook friends. ‘Numbers’ are your connections. As the old saying goes, it’s not what you know it’s who you know. Connections will provide value to you in all sorts of ways. It’s not about knowing the CEO’s best friend’s wife’s sister, in the hope that she can whisper into someone’s ear and hand you a job.

Building connections isn’t a selfish attitude of using everyone you know as leverage to get to where you want to be. It has to be genuine. Connections can provide you with invaluable knowledge, experience, and opportunities. They can be prospective clients, future co-workers and new friends. It’s mutually beneficial for everyone involved.

So how do you meet ‘connections‘”’? Not on Tinder. It takes more effort than swiping right. You don’t need to attend parliamentary debates, spam email members of the UN or hover around in Hilton hotel lobbies. Think about your interests, hobbies, and passions. There is an Association, Committee, Club or Society for just about everything. From Young Professional’s Associations to Under 30’s Vegan-Christian Siamese Kitten Enthusiasts Clubs. You are bound to find something to participate in, and most importantly, enjoy.

Involvement is not just so you can stick “volunteered at the puppy pound” on your cv. It gives you substance and paints a picture of who you really are. You’ll improve your communication skills by interacting with others and have something more interesting to talk about than top rated X-Factor auditions on YouTube.

The workforce is a bullet train, not a Sunday drive. The degree is not the ticket you are, so it’s up to you to fill in the gaps and bring the whole package.

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