I met with a client recently who has two companies after him right now – one said, “What would it take to get you to join our company?” He just launched his campaign. We reap what we sow. This client is doing the hard work necessary to prepare himself for this competitive job market and it is paying off. He is reaping what he sowed.
Several years ago another JobSeeker, Ken King, wrote to me about some networking success he’d had. He said, “I’m convinced that networking is like planting seeds. Some will germinate, but it may take a while. The seeds need ongoing attention to help them grow.”
It occurred to me that Jesus told a similar story; it’s known as the parable of the sower, found in Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23:
(1-9) That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”
(18-23) “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Jesus was talking about those who hear the Good News in this parable. The way we respond to the call of God has eternal consequences. The cool thing about parables is that they teach truths about our time here on earth as well. I believe this parable is where we get the phrase, “We reap what we sow.”
When it comes to job search, this parable teaches us that we experience the consequences of our actions. The seeds and soil represent the way we sow (use) our strategy, tools and skills:
Along the path.
Job boards may seem like the path of least resistance, but Jesus teaches us that the evil one snatches our seed away. Of the four places to scatter seed, this is the only one where Jesus mentions Satan. Satan loves it when we rely on ad response because thousands of birds are snatching our résumés away before employers get to see them. Responding to ads gives us false hope.
I hear those of you scattering seeds along the path saying, “Dave, I don’t know what’s wrong, I’ve sent out 50 résumés and haven’t heard a thing back.”
In rocky places.
This represents those of us who begin networking with joy, but when trouble comes we quickly fall away. We give it a try but quickly let it go when it fails to produce a crop. We get pumped up on Friday, but by the time the sun comes up on Monday, we revert to job boards or fall into depression or get distracted by competing priorities.
Those of you who sow in rocky places say, “I’ve tried networking; I called someone and left a message and they didn’t call me back. Networking works for other people, but not for me.”
Among the thorns.
Here we are networking hard, but worries and deceitfulness choke our enthusiasm out, making our efforts unfruitful. We try networking and have some success, but get bogged down for a couple of reasons: “analysis paralysis” and “all eggs in one basket.” Sometimes we get so focused on one job that if it doesn’t bear fruit, there are no other seeds that have broken the surface, so we have to start the cycle again by sowing more seeds.
Those of you who sow among the thorns say, “I’m interviewing for a job and I need to focus all my attention on this one so I don’t blow it.”
On good soil.
Those of us who sow in good soil produce a crop 100, 60 or 30 times what we sow. Like Ruben and Ken, we “get it.” We know that producing a crop a crop takes time and informed effort. We sow some seed every day. We nurture the seed we’ve already sown. We do our best to give it the right amount of sunlight, water and fertilizer. We pull weeds and prune. Over time our efforts yield a crop – one or more job offers.
For those of you who sow in good soil, I hear you saying things like, “I met with my advisory board and they’ve given me some new ideas.” “That call didn’t go so well, but I’m not giving up.” “I asked a friend for help and you won’t believe what happened.”
We reap what we sow.
Which of these four characterizes your search? When you look around at your garden, are birds snatching your message and flying away? Do you try networking but quickly revert to job boards? Have you zeroed in on one thing to the exclusion of all others? Or do you accept disappointment and failure as part of the process of success?
ACTION ITEM: As soon as you finish reading this message, I challenge you to call three friends and ask for advice, information and/or referrals (AIR). Plant some seeds like this week’s client and Ken did.
Come to JobSeekers Friday and let us know what happened.
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