Why the Iditarod is like your job search


As we launch into spring, I can’t help but think of the tough winter we’ve had. And what more humbling climate than Alaska? This is the time of year that the Iditarod, a 1,409 mile trek through Alaska’s wilderness, occurs. The race is a slog through unpredictable conditions, obstacles, and intense weather during the race, with a “musher” leading a team of 16 dogs. The more I learned about the Iditarod, the more I could see the similarity between the Iditarod and the challenges of job search.


Iditarod 2010 – photo by Frank Kovalchek. Licensed under Creative Commons, CC By 2.0

“A distant place”:

The naming of the Iditarod might be derived from the Athabaskan “haiditarod,” which translates to “far distant place.” Job search can certainly feel like this, taking on an almost abstract quality: the longer the search goes on, the farther the endpoint feels.

Job search tip: Setting achievable daily and weekly goals can help ground you when you feel like you’ve lost your footing in your job search activities.

A challenging road:

The route of the Iditarod is somewhat constant, but there are often changes to adapt to:changing weather conditions; altered checkpoints, and there is a start and a re-start. Just like job search, when you think you have the lay of the land, the landscape changes. Perhaps your resume is no longer working or earlier successes you had with scoring interviews are no longer presented.

Job search tip: Consider trying a new approach: poll your peers, get into a job networking group to audit your process and identify what changes are needed. Explore getting the help of a professional coach if needed to streamline your approach and potentially shorten your search.

The last dash:

Before the sprint to the end, mushers rest their dogs to get ready for this final push.

Job search tip: Looking for a job is demanding physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you are really working your job search like a job, build in rewards to replenish yourself so that you don’t exhaust your emotional and physical resources. In some cases this means taking a break altogether to get a new perspective and restore your focus.


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