Who else is excited for the premiere of “Catching Fire” (the second Hunger Games movie) this Friday? I know I am! There are so many things I love about the Hunger Games and its storyline. It’s possible I love the books too much! Why do I say that? As I watched the first movie for the 60th time and begin rereading the second book, I’m seeing ways The Hunger Games can be related to somebody’s job/career search. Crazy? Maybe. But, the lessons are definitely there (And it’s more than tributes from Districts 1 and 2 being labeled as “Career Tributes”).
Ultimately the Hunger Games are a game of strength, skill, endurance, and courage (along with a few other things, like teenagers fighting and copious amounts of blood, but we’re going to overlook those for now). Here are the key job/career search lessons I’ve found, and maybe after reading this, you’ll see a few more of your own.
1.) Don’t follow the crowd. In The Hunger Games, if you run with the crowd, you will most certainly get beat to a pulp. Stay away from the crowd. Like, run away as fast as you can, and get away from everything they are doing, and get as far away from them as you can! Metaphorically speaking, of course. How does this relate to a job search? Take risks. Do something outside the box no one else is doing.
2.) Have a Skill Others Don’t. Remember when I mentioned Katniss’s awesome skills with the bow and arrow? That comes in handy more than a couple of times. Get a skill most other people in your field don’t have, and you’re bound to catch the eye of your employer and beat out the competition. Or at least survive into a few rounds of interviews and get your name out there a bit more than before.
3.) Put Yourself Forward and Volunteer. SPOILER ALERT! Katniss is the first person in the history of the Hunger Games to volunteer herself for District 12, and she wins, saving her sister from almost certain death. Job Search Lesson? Put your name forward for that next project. You might not save someone from their ultimate demise, but you’ll probably learn something new in the process.
4.) Don’t Offend Your Competition: They Might Be Allies Later. If you try to undermine coworkers, or hack them to pieces in the hopes of advancing yourself, it could end up backfiring. What if you need to work with them on a project later? They might backstab or trash talk you in the future, if in the past, you tried to cut them down to make yourself look or sound better.
5.) Expect the Rules to Change. Sometimes the rules in the workplace change in ways you don’t like. Maybe you have to work overtime, or fill in extra paperwork, or you thought you and a coworker were both allowed to take lunch at the same time. But then you’re told only one of you can. If you think the old system is better, don’t just complain; help make your employer realize it, too.
6.) Be Patient with Your Mentor. Sometimes a mentor figure will appear in your life — someone who was once in your same position and moved up. Your potential mentor might be a real character, old and rambling, reserved and distant, or surly and constantly drunk (Haymitch, anyone?) But if you’re patient and prove your worthiness, you may reap some priceless pearls of wisdom, and a couple career-saving favors.
7.) Old, Festering Wounds are the Real (Career) Killer. If something was to end up killing your career, you might think it would be a single devastating mistake or a round of mass layoffs. But most careers aren’t killed by something so dramatic. Injuries caused by past stumbles — dropping out of college, a bad reference, a cameo in a low-budget 80s film — can, if neglected, accumulate and turn out to be fatal. So try to heal them while you can!