Job Farming

The usual metaphor is job hunting, but I have been thinking lately how much finding a new job is like that other basic human work: farming.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed.

Planting: You have to till the soil and sow your seeds.


Should we use the term job “farming” instead of job hunting? (Photo credit: thegreenpages)

If we wanted to extend the metaphor into a full analogy, the “soil” would be your network of contacts and resources, while your “seeds” would be the applications, resumes, proposals, etc., that (you hope) will eventually grow into work. You have to sow these widely, but you also have to sow in the right places and prepare the soil ahead of time.

Unlike farming, of course, you never quite know what you’ll reap from your efforts. Missionaries often talk about “sowing the seed widely,” which means sharing the Gospel with as many people as you can, without predetermining who you think will respond and who won’t. There’s an element to this in the job search, though it’s also important to make sure you’re planting the right seeds in the right soil.

Preparing: You have to keep your tools sharp.

While farming has seasons, it doesn’t really have an “off” season. The same is true with the job search. Just because you’re still searching for the perfect job doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels (or lack thereof). You have to keep your job skills sharp so that you’ll be ready when the opportunity comes.

For example, here are a few things I’m doing to keep my tools sharp:

  • Writing for the Emerging Scholars Blog
  • Taking web development and design courses from Treehouse.
  • Working on some freelance and personal writing projects.

These aren’t just exercises, either. Last month, I spoke at Urbana 12, InterVarsity’s triennial student conference. This reminding me how much I enjoy speaking — and that I’m pretty good at it. This, in turn, has shaped the direction of job search in the new year.

Persevering: You need to learn how to wait well — and hope for favorable conditions.

As with actual farming, the eventual harvest is only partly under your control. Drought, flood, locusts, and such can destroy your hard work, but (more optimistically) good weather and the right conditions can make your effort far more productive than you ever expected. Unlike actual farming, however, you don’t know how long your season of waiting will be, which means that guarding against discouragement and complacency are crucial. All of this makes your planting and preparing even more important.

What do you think of this comparison? Do you have a better metaphor that you prefer?

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