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With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner, I am reminded of the concept of luck.
Some may believe it was luck that helped them to land a job, or it was luck that helped them move their career forward. As someone who works with job seekers and as an HR professional, I know there is no such thing as luck when it comes to the job search and hiring process.
Instead, I believe that both job seekers and employers create their own luck.
Luck is really the point where opportunity and preparation meet. What do I mean by that, and how does it relate to a job search and hiring?
Consider this example: A few years ago, one of our job seekers was flying out of town to visit family.
The flight was delayed because there were not enough baggage handlers to load the checked luggage. This job seeker - let's call him Pete - commented that, if they needed more employees, he would be glad to take the job at least for the short term as he recently had been laid off.
The woman sitting next to Pete asked where he had worked. Pete shared that he had been a graphic designer for a local employer and was hoping to land a similar position in the local area.
The other passenger asked if he had a business card because one of the graphic designers at her company recently had resigned. So Pete gave her his card, asked for her contact information and followed up when he returned from his trip.
Pete got the inside scoop on a job opening that had not been advertised anywhere and he expanded his network.
Is this luck? No.
Pete was comfortable talking about losing his job and had his elevator speech prepared. He had personal business cards made up and was carrying them with him.
Pete helped himself by asking his fellow traveler for her contact information, and he further took control by following up at his first opportunity by sending her an error-free resume.
As an employer, Pete's fellow passenger also created her own luck. She connected with Pete and helped her employer by mentioning the possible opening.
She connected further by asking for his business card and she shared her contact details to make future contact easier. She enhanced her employer's brand by being helpful.
In both cases, preparation met opportunity.
Many job seekers have experienced frustration in their search and hope that eventually luck will be on their side.
It is easy to get discouraged when one is not getting the results as quickly as they would like.
Even if job search activity has been robust - including plenty of networking - no one can say when or if the 'ideal” position will surface. And luck is not going to move one's career forward.
As the future is unknown, job seekers can increase their odds of finding a position by flexing a bit to expand their options.
Having a grasp of related positions or career paths that use similar skill sets is a key component to this type of flexibility. Because one never knows what the future might hold, this type of research should be an ongoing activity.
When conducting a job search this means looking outside the industry, considering a lateral move, taking a contract or temporary position, or looking at less senior roles.
Preparing the tools needed for the job search and looking at a role that is outside the norm shows an employer one is willing to work hard and be creative - versus waiting for luck - to get what they want.
For the employer who hopes to find the right candidate, luck does not apply, either. It takes continued strategy and effort to source future candidates.
Employers can proactively do a lot of networking, attend professional events, conduct research and have plenty of conversations, even when there is no current need.
Preparation for future candidates also means paying attention to companies or industries that are experiencing change as it is possible the opportune time is right for someone to leave their current employer.
It is this preparation, anticipation and creativity that allows employers and job seekers to connect. Neither side can safely rely on luck.
Whether you are an employer or a job seeker, how are you creating your own luck? When you are met with opportunity, are you prepared?
If you have not done so already, start preparing so that when opportunity knocks, you'll be ready to answer the door.
Jennifer Lawrence is the owner of Corridor HR Solutions, a career transition and consulting firm; email@example.com; corridorhrsolutions.com.