What’s Luck Got to Do with Career Success?


Krasi is Carey the Torch's Editor-in-Chief and also represents the Career Development Office in Washington, D.C., working with students on career exploration and development. Krasi holds a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a Master of Arts in International Human Rights from the University of Denver.

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I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

Thomas Jefferson

What better topic to cover than luck during the week millions celebrated St. Patrick’s Day? Not the luck the Irish boast, just the general kind.

Last year, Glassdoor published the Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions for 2014. The second question on the list asks, “How lucky are you and why?” It is not clear what the company that asked the question was looking for, but one thing is certain: the way you respond to the question reveals a lot about your worldview as well as your career success.

The concept of luck and its impact on one’s success has been studied by Richard Wiseman, author of the Luck Factor. According to him, luck is about seeing and taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. As he points out, “Unlucky people are stuck in routines. When they see something new, they want no part of it. Lucky people always want something new. They’re prepared to take risks and relaxed enough to see the opportunities in the first place.” Applied to the job search process, his findings indicate that those who approach job hunting with openness, positivity, and resilience will experience a more desirable outcome than those who get stuck having tunnel vision.

Wiseman has outlined four principles through which lucky people encounter success:

Maximize Chance Opportunities
In other words, “notice the unexpected.” Don’t go only after the obvious opportunities or after what you think is the one opportunity for you.

Listen to Lucky Hunches
Trust your intuition and pay attention to the inner voice that encourages you to reach out to a stranger for an informational interview or warns you against an interview setup that just seems a bit off.

Turn Bad Luck to Good
The job search process is exciting but also frustrating. Not everyone you reach out to will respond and not every application will lead to an interview. Make the best of the experience anyway.

Expect Good Fortune
Attitude is certainly everything, and a positive attitude will help you achieve anything.

So next time you find yourself wondering why you seem to have no luck in the job search process, stop, take a step back, and open your eyes. Are you taking advantage of all the opportunities coming your way? Tunnel vision is your enemy. While academic success is important, it is only one aspect of the value a graduate degree offers.

And if after reading this post you are feeling lucky, be sure to register for an event planned by the Career Development Office! Please visit Carey Compass to find out additional information about each event and register for the ones that work with your schedule.

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