Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
JOB SEARCH / AUG. 30, 2015
version 11, draft 11

5 Job Search Lessons Your Cat Can Teach You

Cats get a bad rap but the haters can say whatever they want. Really, cats are the ones who have got it all figured out. Think about it – they sure know a thing or two about work-life balance (watch birds from the window for a few minutes, take a nap, repeat) and, when it comes to job hunting, we can all learn a couple of lessons from our furry feline friends to get through the process without chasing our tails.

This post goes out to you, cat lovers, as you navigate through the many steps and processes that your job search requires. While you unfortunately can’t live the full cat lifestyle mostly made up of naps and playtime, you can try to emulate it in a way that will help you manage as you pursue your next career move. And to all of the non-cat lovers out there, you might want to start taking notes – and reconsider your preconceived notions about the feline species.

See Also: 5 Jobs For Cat Lovers

1. Be a Creature of Habit and Routine

Cats pretty much wake up at the same early-morning time every day, and shortly thereafter wake you up – that ever so reliable and irritating cat/alarm clock. Immediately upon getting you out of your comfortable, warm bed, they meow in your general direction until you walk with them into the kitchen for their hearty morning chow. Once that’s out of the way, it’s on to the rest of their grueling daily schedule of bird watching, couch scratching, bug chasing, and intermittent napping (because, obviously, a cat’s life is exhausting). On top of this, your cats have probably developed some pretty quirky yet loveable habits like following you into the bathroom and incessantly crying for you to turn on the faucet just so they can take two licks and walk away. Bear with me, because these cats might be onto something.

As a job seeker, keeping a solid daily, or even weekly, routine can help you stay motivated and make continual progress in your search. If you’re not currently employed, wake up at the same time every day anyway. By sleeping in until 11 a.m., you’re wasting precious daytime hours that you could otherwise spend jumping on the newest, hottest job opportunities. Continue to follow a schedule even if you’re not officially bound to one. For example, you might block an hour out at the same time every Tuesday (which happens to be the best day for applying for jobs) to log onto your favorite job boards (the human equivalent of bird watching), check the newest listings on your target companies’ employment pages, reach out to a couple of industry contacts, and pick out some positions you’d like to apply for.

If you are currently working but looking for new opportunities, it’s still important to keep a routine to stay on top of your job search. Block out 30 minutes to an hour a couple of times a week to spend searching for job postings that really speak to your interests and reflect your skill set. Turn it into your own quirky must-do habit.

2. Keep Excellent Personal Grooming Habits

Cats are top notch self-groomers and don’t have to rely on the help of humans to stay looking pristine. If you own cats, you’re sure to see them give themselves a full-body tongue bath – and a good nail filing on your couch afterwards. These grooming habits help them to condition their fur, remove body odors, and prune their nails – sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It should, and if it doesn’t, then it’s a good thing you’re reading this.

It’s really important as a job seeker to stay on top of your personal grooming, especially if you’re at the interview stage of your job search process. The truth is that employers will absolutely take your personal appearance into account during your interview. How you present yourself physically is a huge part of your first impression, and a lack of good grooming may send them the message that you are lazy, scattered, or don’t take the job opportunity seriously.

If you’re about to start licking your forearm – you can stop right there. Just be sure to wash regularly, keep your luscious locks under control, block out B.O. with deodorant, take care of your oral hygiene, and trim your fingernails. You don’t have to be as prim and polished as Kate Middleton (we can’t all have personal grooming assistants); you just have to tend to your basic hygiene needs, refine your appearance, and dress neatly and professionally. Keep the employer’s attention on your stellar interview answers and credentials, not on your dirty fingernails or unruly facial hair.

3. Stay Sharp

As your favorite tattered armchair can attest to, cats take out and scratch their claws on a daily basis. Through this non-malicious but frustrating act, cats are sharpening one of their greatest secret weapons while also stretching their back muscles and actually relieving personal cat stress (again, it’s rough being a cat). Cats’ nails are one of their greatest personal assets, tiny tools they use to protect themselves and show their strength.

All job seekers have their own secret weapons, too: the skills and assets that set them apart from their fellow candidates and make them the best fit for a position. It’s important to figure out what your greatest strengths are and actually put in the effort to further develop them over time.

You should also be prepared to answer what your greatest weaknesses are. The best answers to this common interview question always include examples of the ways the interviewees are currently working to sharpen their skills in those less-developed areas. Consider your weaknesses future secret weapons that can be nurtured and turned into strengths. Don’t be stagnant – cultivate your wide-spanning professional skill set on a regular basis.

4. A Catnap Does the Body (and Mind) Good

There’s a reason why catnap is a word in the first place: cats are known to be serial nappers. There aren’t many hours in the day in which cats don’t spend at least a few minutes getting some shut-eye. Of course, as adult humans with responsibilities that extend far beyond lying around the house all day, hourly napping is not encouraged nor is sleeping 12 or more hours each day. However, it is really important to give yourself time to rest, relax, and recharge, because as you well know, searching for a job can really take a toll on your mental and physical health.

Do as the cats do and make sure you don’t ignore your body when it tells you that you need to take it easy. If you’ve just spent an hour perfecting your cover letter before hitting “Send” on an important job application, give yourself your own version of a catnap – take a walk, snag a 15-minute power nap, partake in your favorite hobby, call a friend, and just give your brain some chill time.

Keeping your nose to the grindstone for too many hours or days on end will only lead to burnout, which in the long term will harm your ability to stay sharp in your search. Moreover, getting a full night’s sleep is another part of the equation for a healthy and successful job search, so grab your favorite squishy blanket, hunker down into your favorite sleeping position, and purr yourself into sweet slumber.

5. Keep Chasing the Red Dot

Cats are famous for their obsession with chasing that ever-elusive red dot projected onto walls and floors by their devious owners with laser pointers. If you’ve ever seen how excited, motivated, and relentless cats can get about chasing that red dot, you know exactly what I’m talking about. When the red dot is in view, cats dredge up a vigorousness within themselves that they otherwise rarely seem to possess, and they keep their eyes on the prize. They have utter faith that they can capture that red dot if they keep at it, if not during one chasing session then surely during the next.

The red dot is a perfect metaphor for your next dream job. To reach it, it helps to be excited, motivated, and relentless. But, lucky for you, your dream job isn’t an intangible or unattainable red dot; it’s a real, possible thing that you can catch with dedication and effort. Sometimes, sure, that perfect job opportunity does start to feel a bit fleeting, but having stubborn cat-like faith that you can and will capture your goal is downright necessary.

However, if your job search efforts don’t seem to be fruitful after a while, remember that you probably won’t be able to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Tweak your methods, broaden your ideal job options, or find ways to work your way up to your dream job (sometimes we have to take an internship or a steppingstone position along the way). Cats know more than any of us that it can take years to capture that glorious “dot,” so be patient and flexible.

See Also: Are you a Cat Person or a Dog Person?

No matter what positions you’re out there looking for, following a schedule, squeezing in some relaxation, taking care of your physical and mental health, enhancing your skills, and being persistent are all absolutely crucial to get to where you want to be. Whatever you do, never stop chasing your ideal job until you’ve got it right between your paws. Your cat-like transformation is almost complete!

What valuable career lessons have you learned from your cat? Share your wisdom in the comments section below!

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