How Dieting and Job Searching Are Similar

In this issue of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Pump Club newsletter, there’s a section titled “The Anti-Diet Diet Plan”. What it reports is there’s no magic bullet, no one-size-fits-all diet.

Here’s the thing: all successful diets have one thing in common: caloric restriction. Apparently it doesn’t matter what plan you follow (keeping away from highly-processed foods, added sugars, and refined grains, per the article). As long as caloric restriction is in play, the diet will give the same results.

It made me think of job hunting. Job seekers often tell me that they’re getting conflicting information from different sources.

I think job searching could be compared to dieting. Just like every body is different and one person’s keto doesn’t work for a high-carb fan, in job hunting you get to pick your path, experimenting and course-correcting along the way.

Since everyone’s path to finding a job is slightly different, influenced by the marketplace, their background, their network (or lack thereof) and what they’re seeking, there is no magic bullet, no ‘do this and you’ll find a job, guaranteed’.

The internet is full of well-meaning advice. Like: how many pages are appropriate in a resume. What’s the “right” way to network? Do I apply directly via the company’s website? Not apply and find someone inside to champion my candidacy? What about fractional work? Or work that is one-off or not the right fit? Accept it for the salary + benefits and keep looking? Hold the line and keep searching?

These  job hunting tips, tricks and tools have probably had beneficial results for their advocates. I used to be much more formulaic as I coached job seekers and those whose resumes and LinkedIn profiles needed tuning. But with today’s rapidly-shifting marketplace and innovations like AI, it’s impossible to offer a universal formula.

Like caloric restriction, the common theme in a job search is persistence and experimentation.

You could compare dieting’s themes of caloric restriction and staying away from added sugars, refined grains and ultra-processed foods to job hunting’s snuggling up with discomfort, staying away from unhelpful emotions like self-judgment + fear, and wondering when your efforts will ever yield results.

Speaking of results: if something is working for you (a five-page resume instead of a three-pager, for instance), keep it! Results speak louder than advice. You get to pick your path, no matter what advice you hear or see on the Internet.

Isn’t that liberating? Confusing and possibly overwhelming, yes, but also freeing.

So get on out there and try different things. Be curious, be willing to fall on your face, be told ‘no’ or ignored. It’s not personal.

Here’s the thing: you don’t know where that golden thread that leads to your next job is going to come from, so persist. On a day of blind alleys and bridges going nowhere, remember: the law of odds is in your favor (they teach this in sales). For every ‘no’, your ‘yes’ is one step closer.

Keep calm and carry on. You’ve got this.


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