Buzzer Beaters and Job Search: A Quest for Your One Shining Moment

As the last seconds of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship ticked off, I marveled at the execution of the UCONN team.  The level of intensity, ups, and downs of the season, how they leveraged their strengths, and found a way to win when it mattered most.

68 teams enter the dance, and one wins the ultimate prize. 

It got me thinking how similar this is to the job search world – where everyone is competing for that one end goal through a rollercoaster of emotions. The exhilaration of victory, the Cinderella stories who move on against traditional powerhouses, the puzzling defeat for those shoe-in picks, and ultimately the “one shining moment” for the individual who has survived a grueling process.

The job search can be competitive, challenging, and unpredictable. It is not uncommon to experience periods of extreme highs when you get invited for an interview, followed by the disappointment and frustration that comes with rejections. This can be particularly true when it comes to the competitive nature of many open positions in today’s market. Let’s explore how March Madness and job search are similar and what we can learn from them.

  1. It’s a Tournament

Just like March Madness, a job search process is a tournament. You start with a large pool of candidates (teams) competing for a limited number of positions (slots in the tournament). You go through rounds of elimination (resume screening, interviews) to make it to the next stage (final interviews, job offers). The process can be intense and requires careful strategy, preparation, and perseverance.

  1. Both require careful strategy and preparation

If you’re looking for a job or trying to win March Madness, it takes more than luck. Success requires careful strategizing and expert preparation. Like the NCAA men’s basketball teams of March Madness, job seekers must step onto the court ready to defend their talents, abilities and survive against fierce competition in order to advance. 

Despite the overarching belief that there’s a lack of talent, you are competing against other qualified candidates who are vying for the same job openings. Just like teams in March Madness need to bring their A-game to outperform their opponents, you need to showcase your skills, value, leverage your differences, qualifications, and achievements to stand out from the competition.

  1. The importance of creating an impressive resume – “shooting your shot” in the tournament

Applying for a job is like preparing to compete in a tournament: you need to look the part and be ready for whatever is thrown at you. You couldn’t show up wearing the other team’s colors, nor could you go on the field unprepared. The same concept applies when creating an impressive resume – it’s your way of “shooting your shot”. 

Crafting a professional and impactful resume will ease an employer’s eye as they pursue through your experience and qualifications. Your resume should give off the right impression of who you are and what you bring to the table. In order to stand out from the crowd, making sure your resume looks polished, professional, and relevant is the key to success – do so, and you’ll enter that tournament with confidence knowing that you put in the work!

  1. It’s Full of Ups and Downs

Despite arriving with the expectation of a predetermined path to success, some tournaments throw in so many curveballs that it can feel like you’re on a never-ending rollercoaster ride.

March Madness is known for its unpredictability, with underdog teams often defeating higher-ranked opponents. Similarly, the job search process can be full of ups and downs. You may face rejection, setbacks, and disappointments along the way. However, just like basketball teams need to bounce back from a loss and keep pushing forward, job seekers need to persevere, learn from their setbacks, and keep their motivation high.

Adapting to changing brackets on the fly is by no means an easy task, but those who have faced such obstacles head-on will tell you that it’s the unexpected twists and turns in life that make it interesting. For any athletes looking to compete, there may come a time where courage and resilience are put to the test. Ultimately, not all paths are plotted neatly in advance, however those capable of admirably overcoming such unanticipated challenges will surely be rewarded.

I was recently leading a job search where the winning candidate was initially passed on for other candidates. When an unexpected life twist required someone to pull out of the dance, the passed over candidate was asked to come back into the mix and accelerated to the top. Don’t think this person overcame a lot of obstacles?  Talk about a Cinderella Story!

  1. It Requires Adaptability 

Winning teams adapt to different opponents, game plans, and situations. Similarly, in a job search, you may need to adapt your approach based on the specific job, company culture, and interviewer’s style. Reading the room is a requirement in every search, and being able to present your skills and abilities to changing dynamics is something you should expect. Flexibility, adaptability, and the ability to adjust your strategy can increase your chances of success.  

  1. It’s About Networking

Teams often rely on teamwork and collaboration, networking plays a crucial role in the job search. Building a strong professional network, connecting with industry contacts, and leveraging referrals can open up opportunities that may not be advertised publicly. How many times do you think coaches talk to other coaches, sharing game strategy and information about players and the tendencies of their next opponent? Networking can help you gain insights, make connections, and increase your credibility in a job search..

  1. It Requires a Winning Attitude 

Finally, both March Madness and job search require a winning attitude. Just like basketball teams need to believe in their abilities and have confidence in their skills, job seekers need to exude confidence, positivity, and enthusiasm throughout the job search process. A winning attitude can impress potential employers and help you make a memorable impression.

  1. The rewards of success and hard work-celebrating as championship teams are crowned!

The yearly March Madness tournament and job search are adventurous, albeit sometimes unpredictable and arduous, journeys. The parallels between the two should remind us to both plan ahead and also just enjoy the ride. 

As we go through each phase of the search or tournament, there will be obstacles that must be overcome and unexpected curve balls thrown your way. However, if you remain resilient in the face of adversity, success will be yours! 

Some may see these processes as stressful or overwhelming; however, embrace them with an open mind and do not forget to have fun! But always remember – the best team doesn’t always win. It’s the team that prepares and plays the best that ultimately lands the championship trophy or in a job seeker’s case – the dream job.

About The Author

Tyler Bloom is the founder of Tyler Bloom Consulting. A former golf course superintendent and turf professional, Tyler’s love of all things golf began at the age of six when he stepped onto the course for the first time. 

Tyler has an Executive Certificate in Talent Acquisition from Cornell University and a degree in Turfgrass Science from Penn State University. With 20 years of experience in the golf and turfgrass industry, Tyler has worked directly with reputable club leaders at some of the most prestigious clubs to place over 100 professionals in executive and management level positions throughout the United States.

Are you ready to build a top-performing team that drives results? Our proven framework, methodologies, and implementation is based on our personal track record of developing world-class teams. In addition to talent acquisition, we provide leadership development and ongoing consultative services for the golf course and club industry. Our team has personally coached and mentored dozens of future golf course superintendents across the United States.