After a year off, March Madness is back!

With this week’s first tip-off, millions of college basketball fans will be glued to their TV sets or smartphones to watch the action. Given that the pandemic canceled last year’s tournament, this year’s edition figures to be one of the most highly watched tourneys of all time.

Count me in.  

And since this column is focused on career happiness, let’s look at some of the parallels between March Madness and your job search.

Build Your Bracket

A job search can be an overwhelming experience. You can likely find multiple opportunities that fit your skillset by sifting through LinkedIn or online job boards.

But how do you decide which ones to pursue? Once you start getting interview requests and job offers, how do you make a final decision?

Here are some of the things to consider when weighing multiple offers, according to the job search site Indeed.com:

• Paid time off

• Schedule

• Flexibility

• Commute

• Location

• Opportunities for growth

• Company values

• Health insurance

• Company culture

• Job security

Consider all of these factors and build your own “bracket” – a list of your potential landing spots. Build a scoring system that weighs the characteristics that are most important to you. For example, if a job offers an easy commute, it receives one point. If it offers health insurance, it gains another point.

Tally up the results and see if a clear winner emerges.

Beat the Buzzer

Just like the end of an exciting March Madness game, you may have to make decisions on a tight timeline. Especially in the case of receiving multiple job offers, there may be a specific hiring date a company is trying to hit. Coordinating the end date with your current company or handling logistics associated with re-locating can be difficult to juggle.

Always communicate with the hiring managers if you need more time to consider your options. It never hurts to ask, and it’s better than rushing through a decision.

Stay Calm Under Pressure

Which leads to my final point. Deciding to leave a job or start another can be challenging, no matter your circumstances. You may find yourself feeling the stress of such a monumental change. It can impact your overall mental health, physical well-being and even your relationships.

Take a deep breath and remember your goals. Are you trying to escape a negative job environment? Are you looking for something more in line with your skillset and passions? Do you need to change your career to better fit your family’s needs?

Stay calm and talk through the situation with your loved ones. Find a career coach who can help you through the experience. No matter what you do, trust that you belong in the spotlight and you’ll make the shot. 

This piece originally appeared in The Southern Illinoisan newspaper under Joe Szynkowski’s regular Work Happy column.

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