Work Hunting With a Gravity Slingshot

September 29, 2015

Job Search

Isn’t this the way career management is supposed to work? You launch a job search and you land a job, right? Only if you’re interested in spending your life finding one-job-in-a-row.slingshot

Here’s the unfortunate reality that accompanies the conventional “wisdom” of the Launch and Land method. A great deal of time and effort is required when we launch a search:

  • Update the resume.
  • Try to recall accomplishments and measures of your impact at work.
  • Breathe new life into that network of people that you haven’t talked to in six years (or more).
  • Research the PINT for your market (Problems, Issues, Needs and Trends)  to compensate for the fact that you only paid real attention to the things happening inside your company for the last six years.

All this work is a sign that, six years ago, you landed on Planet Job and embedded yourself for the long haul. Now you’ve used up all the “occupational oxygen” on Planet Job and it no longer wants you as an inhabitant or you no longer want to be there. So, breaking free of its gravity and getting away will require a lot of effort.

What if you used the gravity (attracting energy) of Planet Job in a different way? Instead of landing and embedding yourself in a desperate and semi-permanent way, suppose you let the attracting energy of this work propel you somewhere instead of embedding you in this one job. This is similar to a principle used by NASA to propel space missions all the way to the rings of Saturn and beyond. It’s the “gravity slingshot.”

Here’s how it works. The spacecraft uses the gravitational pull of planets, along its path, that are moving toward Saturn. It picks up energy from that pull to boost its own speed and momentum toward Saturn. It may fly by briefly or it may orbit some planets for a while to pick up more energy. But it never lands hard and embeds itself in the planet. These doses of gravitational energy actually propel it toward its destination. It’s the “gravity slingshot.”

Borrow some lessons from NASA:

  • Launch but don’t land hard and embed. Orbit and keep your options open for moving on.
  • Stay engaged in the bigger mission of your career trajectory and make sure you’re thinking strategically not just tactically (career management, not just job finding).
  • “Your work should be sending you somewhere, not just keeping you somewhere.”

That last point is the big one. Get it tattooed on you somewhere.

Where is your current work sending you? Is it somewhere you’ve scoped out and want to go professionally? Or only to a place that suits the j-o-b and not you? These are big questions that may feel awkward or annoying because you don’t feel you have solid answers for them. Open a dialog with someone about these questions. Ask others about their answers to the question about “where their work is sending them”. Talk to a career consultant or a trusted advisor about this matter. The Launch and Land Era is over. Get your “gravity slingshot” on.  Remember, your work should be sending you somewhere, not just keeping you somewhere. “Flight Manuals” are now available.brucebook


One Comment on “Work Hunting With a Gravity Slingshot”

  1. Anne W. Bryant, MA, LPC Says:

    In all my years in career counseling, I have never run across such a fresh and intention-shifting analogy. Nicely done, Bruce.


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