Why Applying for a Job is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Alistair Dickson

Like many people, I took up running during lockdown. Access to my usual football games was non-existent, owing to the stay at home rules, but I needed to have that physical and mental release.

So, running it was.

As I kept it up, I was convinced by two friends who had also taken up running with me, that we should all enter a marathon together.

It wasn’t something I had ever entertained before, but it taught me a few valuable lessons and about endurance and resilience. It also got me thinking about how my line of work shares much in common with marathon running.

Applying for jobs is not a sprint, as they say …

Signing up

Registering for a marathon is like applying for a job. It’s the first step in the process and it’s making the initial commitment to progress with something. This is the starting point on a long journey for both and, not everyone that signs up will be successful, but it’s a necessary step to start the process.

Prep

Prep is crucial for both and will make each one easier. Consistently training and following a running plan in the months leading up to your marathon is a necessity. This is also necessary for securing a role. It’s important to do company research and also research on the specific role. You won’t spend as long prepping for an interview as you would for a marathon, but both are crucial parts of the process if you’re going to give yourself the best shot of success.

Race day

Race day is interview day (first interview). Your prep is done and you have to make as good a start as possible. Going over your notes or competencies in the morning is like loading up on your carbs pre-race.  Once it starts it’s all about managing nerves and putting your best foot forward. You want to settle into a rhythm with running or questions and not get yourself too excited. Composure and judgment are key in both.

Midway point

The second half of the race is different to the first, and the second stage interview is different from the first. In both, you’ve survived the first test and have some confidence about you, but now you will be tested further. You have to dig deeper in the second stage to answer tougher questions, just like you’ll have to dig deeper to handle the later stages of a marathon. The second stage is where a good candidate (or runner) will really shine. The stakes are higher now.

Hitting the wall

After a second stage interview, you are usually mentally drained and a bit fatigued. The race is no different once you come to the wall. This is the point after the interview where you are waiting on feedback and are quite nervous. You don’t want to follow up with the employer, you want to play it cool and stay grounded. The race also requires someone to stay level-headed – now is not the time to panic.

The Home Stretch

Whether it’s a marathon or a job process, this is the exciting part. The finish line is in sight, you’re close to the ordeal being over, you would do anything to end the suspense and either make it to the end or find out if you have got the job.

Finishing line

I’ve run a marathon and I’ve been offered a job that I was desperate to get and they’re both feelings of absolute euphoria for me. This is the point where you can look back at the trial and tribulations of every stage and say to yourself, “I did it”.

However, it must be noted that, in spite of your best efforts, not everyone finishes every race and not everyone gets every role they go for and that’s okay. It’s all a learning experience and we can learn a lot from failure.

Both running a marathon and securing that dream role can be challenging and lengthy processes.

Each can be made easier with some company – a training/running partner or an experienced recruiter. Someone to pull you along and to help advise you along the way. This is also someone who can be bounced off for advice and offer guidance and reassurance while playing the waiting game.

Interested in a move within the Financial Services sector? I can cheer you all the way to the finish line – adickson@hrcrecruitment.co.uk

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