The day of the interview, you may feel a slight sting.
That’s just pride, fucking with you.
It only hurts. It never helps.
You interview through that shit.
Because a year from now, when you’re kicking yourself in a cubicle, you’re going to say to yourself, “Bud Selig was wrong, I should have taken steroids.”
When you go into your first interview, you won’t even know how to talk about yourself.
Not in the professional sense. I mean, I recognize that you’re probably pretty good at talking about yourself at this point.
I know I was.
Think about it, how many years has the whole pro ball thing been your easy-entry, conversation trump card, and social dominance play? Who else was doing something so fascinating, so central to the fabric of Americana?
Sure, yeah, maybe one of them might be a little interesting or something. But were they rubbing shoulders with the folks on last night’s game? Did they go to spring training with superstars?
Did they have stats to look up?
A trading card?
You, my friend, had a dream job. Rock Star, Astronaut, Professional Athlete — These are things people want to hear about. And you offered an inside look.
Then you get into that first job interview.
You think the same rules apply. You think that once the opportunity comes up, you can drop the pro-baseball thing and everyone will just clamor over having you work for them. They’ll give you a job. The best job. Whatever job you want.
“Wow. That’s amazing. What was that like? Did you play against Jeter? Did you pitch to Bonds? Did you do pilates with Mike Trout?
“Wow. Well, obviously you’re hired. In fact, just take my position—if you want it, of course— and I’ll report to you from now on.”
It doesn’t work that way.
That’s not to say there aren’t jobs where your background is a factor. But those jobs are rare, and your background is a decoration, an intangible, proof of character— it is very rarely a hard skill.
Too Much Baseball
So, If you go into a panel interview and you want to know things are going poorly, they won’t tell you.
People are insidiously nice that way. No one wants to tell you to your face that you’re a waste of their time. But after you get rejected for, oh, say, a dozen or so jobs, you’ll catch on.
There is this moment when the conversation will just change.
The last question will be, “how much do you know about Critical Path Methodology?” and the next one will be, “What’s your favorite movie?”
That’s an interviewer’s way of letting everyone else on the panel know they’re over you and the group should work to wrap things up.
Oh, no. It doesn’t have to be a favorite movie.
Song. Sports team. Sport. Team. Stadium you played in. Memory from playing…
The stuff you used to really pride yourself on wowing with is now the line of conversation brought up to help ease the time before you’re rejected.
I know, It sucks—this big part of you, this thing you naturally want to talk about… it’s just not relevant to implementing rigid processes for industrial lighting projects as a project manager, now is it?
If you find yourself talking about baseball too much, it’s probably over.
And honestly, what the fuck are you thinking applying for this job anyway? You’ve got zero years of industrial light project management skills.
Did you think they wouldn’t notice that?
Picking Your Job Class
I see what happened here. You looked at a job at a company that you liked. That you knew. Kinda like how you applied to colleges. You saw it on television. You saw the logos on trucks. You went to their job openings page and chose a job like it was a class in an MMORPG.
You looked at the job and you thought, “I like robots. I like Iron Man. I could do a job as a robotics designer at Stark Enterprises.”
No. No, you couldn’t.
“If I can play in the Big Leagues, I can do this. I mean, do you know how hard it is to make it to the big leagues?
Yes. And, no. No, you couldn’t do this.
“They could train me. I’m an achiever. Look at all the things I’ve done in my lifetime! Look at my high level of excellence. I’m a team player. A team leader. Look at the high level of competition I’ve overcome. If they trained me, I could easily—”
No. No, you couldn’t And no, no they wouldn’t.
This interview is about can do not could do.
You can’t do. So what you could do with training is irrelevant.
This is a job. Not a trained internship. Not a college curriculum. Not a boot camp. You have nothing to offer these people besides your favorite movie.
And “all of the things you’ve done” in your life is really not something you need to boast because you’ve not done that much. If we’re being honest, you’ve basically done one thing.
Do you want to take a guess at what it is?
You need to learn what you’ve got, honestly, and what they want, honestly. Because you’re wasting your time applying for things you have no chance of getting. Precious time. You are, honestly, really behind in the professional development track.
Yes, you are.
Hey! This is real, man. Unemployment is real. This isn’t a joke. You’re not special anymore.
Don’t look at me like I just kicked your puppy. You’re not.
You’re just not.
I’m not saying you didn’t do something special, I’m just saying that shit has a venue and this ain’t it. Grinding to the top of baseball is not a wild card that can be played as a stand-in for any job experience requirement.
How did you even get this job interview in the first place?
Oh for fuck’s sake….
Liar for Hire
There is spinning. And there is lying. Don’t lie on your resume.
Knowing how to swear in Spanish does not make you “bi-lingual.”
Negotiating a bad roommate situation does not make you a “creative problem solver.”
The kids in your group at a pitching clinic are not “direct reports.”
And modding your teammate’s Nintendo Wii to emulate classic video gaming consoles is not “computer programming experience.”
Whaddaya mean, What gives me the right to tell you all this?
Okay. Well. For starters, because I did everything I just told you.
Even the lying part.
I mean, after getting rejected for positions that I knew I was overqualified for—nearly 100 times— you get a little desperate.
Think about it from my perspective: Best selling author, got my degree finished up while playing in the majors, retired and went directly into broadcasting. I even made an app for the iPhone.
I still got rejected for entry positions, associate positions, assistant coaching positions. Everything. I was too much this and not enough that. I was a risky proposition. Unproven. A guy like me, with my background of individual accomplishments, screams “will not conform.”
Can you believe that shit? Will not conform...
But when I was just out. Fragile. Afraid. In shock. No Identity. Yeah, I’d take the bit and plow, man. I’d plow.
But no one was offering.
What I had done, ALL I had done, worked against me, not for me. And if that’s not humbling enough then try this:
Stare into the face of someone younger than you, who tells you that you’re not qualified to do a job that you know, in three months, you’ll most likely be out working that motherfucker interviewing you because that’s how you’re built?
And when he rejects you, I dare you not to let that voice inside, the one that pushed you to the apex of a sport, eat you up with egomania, whispering things into your soul like, “that bastard could spend the rest of his life trying to do what you’ve done and not come close, but you just need a few months to surpass him?”
Bring that attitude into an interview and you’ll never get hired. Never.
We’re our own worst enemy here. We really are… What made us love who we were can really make us hate who we are.
I’ll tell you what, dude. Baseball has taught me a lot about handling failure… but rejection like that. TIme after time after time after time.
It makes you question yourself.
It makes you question hard.
I’ve known players—like you—that couldn’t bounce back from this kind of thing. They couldn’t move on, couldn’t let go, couldn’t find help… couldn’t find a reason to keep trying. Keep going.
They felt weak for feeling weak, and then…
Well, let’s just say I don’t want to see that happen to you, Okay?