Jobs, Sales and the Fishing Metaphor

I like to fish, and it makes for great metaphors, like “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” Good stuff. I’m going to add my own, because some of my clients are job-seekers looking for a new job.

If you only pursue jobs that have been “posted” somewhere, that’s like only fishing where a fish has been spotted. The problem is…what? That every other clueless fisherman is doing the same thing and it’s a mess.

Metaphor: A fish is spotted in XYZ Cove and every fisherman on the lake, all 750 of them, some of whom are trying to catch the fish by throwing rocks at it, converge on XYZ Cove. Even if you are a good fisherman, what are your chances in this scenario? Not so good, I’m thinking.

Reality: HR for XYZ company posts a job and 750 apply, most of them not even remotely qualified or interested, your resume is likely buried in the mayhem.

So what does this mean for you?

Job-hunting is a sales process. A good salesperson doesn’t just follow up on Requests for Proposals (RFPs) published in the trade journals. A good sales person is constantly meeting people, checking in, doing favors, scanning the horizon. The good salesperson is going to learn where the fish are for himself / herself and spend a lot of time there, not just wait until someone somewhere spots a fish and then hurry there to fight with the crowds. Often, the really big fish are hiding, away from the crowds, and will only be caught by a diligent fisherman willing to poke around in the depths. Identify the organizations you want to work for, then find ways to speak to people from those organizations, whether they have posted a job or not. How do you find people who work there? LinkedIn, alumni networks, cold-calling, going to conferences and trade associations, there are all sorts of ways. Find the fishy.

Here is a link to my job-hunting guide:

After you look at that, if you want to become a great fisher and catch big fish and need help, email me at and we’ll set up a complimentary strategy session to get you started. If you’re just looking for posted jobs to apply to, don’t bother, you’re wasting your time and mine.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile:


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Dave is trained at the Coaches Training Institute and certified by the International Coaching Federation. He has worked with dozens of clients to achieve remarkable results, including revenue growth, clearer strategic direction, enhanced leadership, and promotions to positions of greater responsibility. You can learn more about him at or follow him at @DarkMatterCon, or GooglePlus.

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