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The Path to Running a Marathon: Lessons for the Job Seeker


Laura

One percent of the population has completed a marathon. In Indianapolis, 8.5% of the population is unemployed. In the Venn diagram of my life, these two statistics recently intersected, and it dawned on me how similar the journeys have been.

Excitement

The moment I registered for the 2013 Chicago Marathon, it was exciting! The excitement was more of the nervous type as in, “Oh my gosh! How am I ever going to run 26.2 miles!”

As far as losing my job? After the initial shock wore off, I was indeed excited! After working since the 10th grade, sleeping late and making my own schedule was something to look forward to.

Marathon Running and the Job Search
© Flickr User Stiljfoto

Denial

Feeling pretty good after a 10-mile training run, I told myself “What’s another 16.2 miles? How hard could that be?”

The unemployment rate holds a constant place in the news, and I found myself thinking, “I won’t be like those people. They must not be trying hard enough to get a job.” Slackers.

Shock

I managed to complete the marathon looking and feeling nothing like the runners I’d see in running ads. Those people were strong, sexy and healthy. I was shocked at how tired I felt and looked. I could barely walk back to the hotel, and took a dose of Advil just to get through my post-race shower.

Equally shocking are some of the nuances in the job search process. Really? A huge corporation doesn’t have software in place to let a job-seeker know his or her application was received, or that the position had been filled? Equally surprising was the depth, breadth and desired qualifications in some job descriptions, as well as the fact that so many jobs are posted with internal candidates already in mind.

Despair

An injury that had reared up during my last two training runs – and in my marathon naiveté hoped I’d never see again – slowed me down at mile 18. Most of my thoughts at that point were about how stupid it was to attempt to run 26 miles.

On the job front, it is indeed a despairing thing to hear from an HR manager that hundreds of applications were received for a single job. Hundreds? The job market is incredibly competitive.

Affirmation

Long distance running is a very solitary pursuit, but on marathon day the spectators turned it into a community event. I crossed the finish line due in large part to their support. On the bucket list of many, I had run a marathon!

A fair amount of freelance work has come my way during my job search, and people I thought of as just acquaintances before losing my job have been extremely helpful. The experience of a sudden job loss has been a gratifying one.

Marathon training taught me that being honest with my workouts – putting the time in through good days and bad – pays off. If I were to give less than my best effort, I’d only be cheating myself when I stepped up to that starting line.

My advice to jobseekers? Do the same – put the time in. Update, refine, and polish your resume and social media presence. Network with those in the field you’re interested in. Seek out help from resources around you like Work One. Take opportunities to grow in your profession – even if that means volunteering your services. Remain positive and be confident in your preparation. Just like training for a race of any kind, you’ll see a return on your effort when the finish line is in sight.

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About the Blogger: Laura Neidig works for the Riley Children's Foundation as Senior Communications Officer. She also serves as Marketing Liaison with the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and is a 4-time Emmy award winner.

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Fri, December 27 2013 » Career Planning and Goal Setting, Self Development

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