I’m putting all objectivity to the side for the day, because I’m a huge Seattle Seahawks fan and I can’t wait for this weekend’s Super Bowl. It’s been a pleasure watching Pete Carroll shape the Seahawks since taking over as head coach in 2010. His positivity and energy are unique in the NFL, and distinguish him from surly and scheming coaches such as New England’s Bill Belichick. Many of his methods and philosophies have applications outside of football. These three job search tips are directly inspired by Carroll and his undeniable success.
Find your John Schneider
One of the unusual things about Carroll’s time with the Seahawks is that he hired John Schneider, the general manager. (When hired by the Seahawks, Carroll was made executive vice president of football operations in addition to his role as head coach.) Schneider is Carroll’s closest advisor, and the team’s success is evidence of their ability to work together.
Every job seeker should have their own John Schneider: someone they trust, someone who will take their strengths and weaknesses into consideration, someone who can help them evaluate opportunities for the right timing and the right fit, and someone who will help keep the big picture in mind.
Percy Harvin is a football player of spectacular ability. But he was not the right fit for the Seahawks’ offense or locker room, and Carroll and Schneider traded him away partway through this season. An opportunity that looks good on paper may not be good for you in practice, and having someone who can serve as your sounding board, offer perspective, and help keep your job search on track is essential.
Continually striving for excellence is a huge part of Carroll’s coaching philosophy. While I leapt off my couch in excitement when we drafted quarterback Russell Wilson in 2012, it seemed unlikely that he would start as a rookie—especially since the Seahawks had recently spent $10 million to acquire quarterback Matt Flynn. But, as everyone knows by now, Wilson won the starting job as a result of his talent and work ethic. Carroll makes his personnel choices based on performance, not on expectations.
Starting Flynn would have been the safe and expected choice, but Carroll doesn’t operate that way. The Seahawks are known for turning undrafted free agents—such as Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, both of whom caught touchdown passes in last year’s Super Bowl—into household names.
Carroll and the Seahawks reward performance, not reputation. Prior accomplishments aren’t a guarantee of playing time. Showing up and proving yourself is how to succeed as a Seahawk. From this, job seekers can learn the importance of positioning themselves as the winning candidate. A job search is a competition, after all; according to ERE Media, each corporate job opening receives an average of 250 resumes. 249 of those people aren’t going to get the job. What can you do to be the one who does?
In a job market filled with applicants firing off as many applications as possible, you can stand out by tailoring your application materials every time you submit an application. To anyone who’s hiring, the difference between a targeted resume and a generic resume is readily apparent. A targeted resume shows that you are thoughtful, and interested in that particular job. That alone raises your profile as a candidate. A targeted resume also makes you far more likely to be rated highly by an applicant tracking system.
Think of an ATS as a football organization’s draft board. To rank highly on a team’s draft board, you have to make it obvious that you have the skills and experience they want. Using the right resume keywords and focusing on accomplishments (not tasks) are two ways of doing that. To see how well your resume matches up with a particular job opportunity, paste your resume and the job description into Jobscan’s resume analysis tool. You’ll get instant feedback telling you how highly a system is likely to rate your resume, plus suggestions for changes and improvements.
Each interview is a chance to go 1-0
A key belief that Carroll has instilled in the Seahawks organization is that every week is a championship opportunity—that no one week is bigger, or more important, than any other week. This philosophy is consistent from the preseason through the playoffs. Good preparation is key. As Wilson always says, “The separation is in the preparation.” Discipline, good habits, and not psyching yourself out—these are some of the keys to Carroll’s philosophy. No matter how big the stage, Carroll makes sure his team prepares in the same way every time.
Job seekers can apply these ideas to their job search as well. Every interview is a chance to go 1-0, a chance to win. Be confident, be consistent, be prepared, and walk into every interview with the knowledge that someone has to win—that is, someone has to get the job—so why not you? Nerves are natural, but by focusing on your preparation and doing well in the moment, you can be as unflappable in the Seahawks. Even in the face of incredibly long odds—say, being down 19-7 with four minutes left in the game and a trip to the Super Bowl on the line—they believe in themselves and they play to win. Fake field goals that lead to touchdowns, scrambling two-point conversions, collecting onside kicks—these are all things that the Seahawks practiced. They were prepared, and when the game was on the line, they executed. Thorough preparation beforehand translates into performing when it matters, whether the scenario is an NFL conference championship game or a job interview.
Pete Carroll’s optimism and winning ways have made him hugely popular with his players and with his adopted city of Seattle. He’s an outstanding role model, and if you’re looking for job search tips, you can’t go wrong with applying some of Pete Carroll’s philosophies to your job hunt.
Good luck. And go Hawks!