I enjoy cycling. Whether riding my bike outdoors or teaching a Spinning class, the physical and mental challenge of a ride motivates me to keep trying to get better. Every year, for one week in July, I am glued to the television to watch the Tour de France. This race has a rich history and attracts professional cyclists from around the world. It is made up of 21 stages that cover a total distance of 3,500 kilometers or about 2,200 miles. These 21 stages include the following profiles: 10 flat stages, 7 mountain stages, 1 medium mountain stage, 2 individual time-trial stages, and 1 team time-trial stage.
The riders spend months and years training their minds and bodies for this event. Every pedal stroke, morsel of food they eat, piece of clothing they wear and type of bike they ride, is pre-planned and tested. For each stage of the race these cyclists have prepared mentally and physically. However, many factors beyond the riders control can influence the outcome of their placement on the final day of the Tour De France. These factors include weather (rain, heat), rocks in the road and other riders. Yet, if these professional cyclists focused on the external, uncontrollable factors, I’m certain they would just pack up and go home. But they continue because they believe in their preparation, planning and the possbility of winning or simply finishing well. Your job search requires similar planning, endurance and mental toughness.
Professional cyclists devote a lot of time to training and practicing before the actual Tour de France. They have a determination and passion to complete what they started even though they know only one man can win the yellow jersey. Many of the cyclists know that there are often favorites to win (think Lance Armstrong), yet they show up, prepared and ready to race. For many, simply to finish what they started, is to win.
Just like the profiles in the Tour De France, there are stages in a job search that must be considered.
1) The flat stage. This is where we simply try to keep the pace and roll along. It's not good or bad, it just is. We might ask ourselves, what is my purpose? Where do I see myself in the next few years? What job can I do?During the flat stages there are often more questions then answers. You may need to revamp your resume and practice your interview skills, but do something to move your job search forward.
2) The team stage. When we ride with others, they can hold us accountable or encourage us when the race gets tough. During the team stage there are various people around to cheer you on or provide a little tough love when needed. Who is cycling alongside you in your career or job search? Who encourages or challenges you to keep going? Who understands your industry or situation and can provide wise counsel?
3) Individual time trials. This is when we may have to ride alone, get to the finish quickly and focus on our own abilities. This stage allows you grow stronger in mind, body and spirit. Hopefully during this stage you learn how to better use your time and resources. This stage requires focus and determination. If you're in a job search, do you keep track of where you've applied, dates of interviews as well as contact names and phone numbers? Do you try to accomplish one thing each week designed to get you closer to your new job? Do you follow-up with a thank you note within 24 hours after an interview? Quickness matters in the job search.
4) The mountains. Many strong, well-trained riders have trouble with this stage. This is where you feel you've talked to everyone, sent resumes everywhere and nothing is happening. No interviews, no rejections, nothing. As tough as it may be, this is where you develop your faith, courage, strength, endurance and sheer grit to keep climbing. The mountain stage requires the most intelligence and wisdom. The mountain demands you to trust in your training even when you do not understand the delay or immediately see the outcome. Read Proverbs 3:5. The mountains require the greatest faith and trust in your planning and preparation. Mental toughness matters in the mountains. You gain this toughness through a good support system, refreshing your approach (resume,cover letter and interview skills) and using effective networking.
Plan, prepare and run from discouragement during your job search. It may take some time but it's possible to win a yellow jersey when you define success on your own terms. Focus and target your efforts to find the job that matters most to you and allows you to use your finely honed skills. Keep riding...viva le tour!