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Not everyone enjoys college basketball, but the NCAA’s March Madness tournament is an exciting thing to watch. I, personally, get hooked on the enthusiasm of the fans. I also love those last-minute game-winning shots, especially when the home crowd rushes the court to celebrate.

In stark contrast to the spirit of March Madness, your average job search is rarely a celebratory affair. The experience is intense, but for many, it’s more like torture than a basketball tournament.

That said, the interview process does have some things in common with a basketball tournament. Each candidate is scrutinized for strengths, weaknesses, and potential competitiveness. Those who make it through each round of the interview process will eventually emerge victorious above all competitors.

Unfortunately, few candidates really understand their value. My clients never seem to understand their full potential until I’ve worked closely with them to flesh it all out.

You don’t necessarily need a career consultant to cheer you on through the job search. You can capture the exciting spirit of March Madness in your own job search by following some of these tips:

1. Get Some Early Wins

In March Madness, the losers go home with no second chance. Similarly, when no one notices your unique abilities, you have no shot at landing your dream job.

You win when your achievements meet the employer’s needs. How can you score some early wins to really show off your skills? Schedule some informational interviews. Find employees at your target companies and network. Get that first request for an interview.

2. Get Your Team Involved

It’s rare for an individual to carry their whole team all the way to the championship. Making it that far takes everyone doing their part.

You, similarly, need a job search team. Career coaches, references, supportive network contacts, and even the people who watch your kids while you go on interviews – they are your team. You must keep all of your teammates engaged and enthusiastic in order to succeed.

3. Out-Compete Other Candidates

You need to compete to land the job. You need to impress the potential employer more than anyone else does.

To do this, you need to know what your competitors are doing and how they are winning over employers. The point is not to copy your competitors. On the contrary, you will need to do better than they do; you will need to exceed the employer’s expectations. The winner in any job search is the one who delivers the most value to the employer.

4. Use Your Timeouts Wisely

During March Madness, coaches wait to use their timeouts until doing so is critical. Similarly, the use of timeouts at the right moments is crucial to your job search success and your well-being. Take timeouts wisely. Give your body and mind time to re-energize when need be.

5. Finish Strong

Even if your interview went well, you must accept your competition might do better. The little things matter. Thank-you notes, follow-up calls, and how you treat the people with whom you come in contact make all the difference. Your best bet is to connect with interviewers and potential referrers on social media and through personal contact. Keep the relationships warm.

Those of us who watch the NCAA tournament understand the enthusiasm, drama, and unpredictability of March Madness. The competitive spirit makes it exciting for us fans.

Many job seekers enter “Job Search Madness” knowing others are doing the same, but few understand the competitiveness needed to win over employers. Just as you expect a team to compete in order to win the tournament, you should expect to put in the same kind of effort to position yourself as the best candidate.

Mark Anthony Dyson is a career consultant, the host and producer of “The Voice of Job Seekers” podcast, and the founder of the blog by the same name.



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