Getting a Good Job is a Matter of Luck?

It always pains me to see good people stuck in jobs that are obviously well under their capabilities. On the opposite end, how some people ended up with their great jobs occasionally surprise me. This made me think about my own career, and wondered if luck has anything to do with getting a good job?

At first, I thought the answer was “yes, luck is a big factor.” But as I write this post and reflect on several instances where I thought I was lucky, I concluded that luck is overrated. Here are the 5 factors I felt helped my career the most:

  1. Always giving it my best — Whatever the job is, I always try my best. May be it’s pride, or may be it’s my competitive nature, but whatever it is, I like my work to stand out as great work. As a result, I have notable accomplishments to show for every one of my jobs.
  2. Managing my brand — Whether we like it or not, we are all labeled — e.g., techno wiz, smart, logical, lazy, dumb, brown noser, etc. These are the images that pop up when people think of us; it’s our reputation. Our brands can hurt, or help our career. Personally, I have established a good brand, but there are also flaws that I have to work on.
  3. Hunger for Knowledge — Constantly learning new skills and gaining knowledge is really important to me. Every time I am in a new job, I feel incredibly excited, rejuvenated, and motivated. I found that I am at my best when I am in a new job. This feeling slowly wanes once I mastered my job, things become routine, and the SSDD feeling starts to kick in. As a result, I am quite versatile and able to succeed in many capacities.
  4. Breaking the Comfort Zone — Whether it’s the desire to learn more, or the desire to earn more, I have always been willing to step out of my comfort zone and experiment. This means that I am less likely to settle into a job and let a promotional opportunity pass by — a great way to keep my skills current and salary competitive.
  5. Networking — It’s a good thing to make friends, and keep in touch with them periodically. I personally don’t mix my personal and professional lives, but I do maintain good relationships with people inside and outside the company. I also like to help matching people to opportunities. My motto is never burn bridges, and build as many as you can.

I don’t know which one helped me the most. At first, I was tempted to say it’s the networking. But I had to laugh because I am an introvert, and normally feel uncomfortable in social events. May be it’s my brand, my accomplishments, or my knowledge. In the end, I think all of these factors are essential. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if a great position opens up, and you are the most qualified candidate.

So, what do you think getting a good job is a matter of luck?

About the Author

By , on Oct 30, 2007
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

Leave Your Comment (16 Comments)

  1. SM Ahluwalia says:

    Dear Mr.

    I my self feel that not only luck help in new jobs but also person conviencing power which he hits the hammer on right place accoridng to their replied questions. This courge/dignity comes from reading of books/newspapers and group discussions at any time. God always in the heart of person but the majour play role of knowledge

    Thanks & Regards

  2. Jonathan says:

    I think luck is perhaps 5%. Gary Player the famous south african golfer was once told by a fan “That was a lucky shot”, to which he replied “The more i practice, the luckier i become”

    Personally, I think you generate you’re own luck. I used to work in IT recruitment for a number of years, but now i work in the government/public sector. I think the best jobs are never advertised and it means that job hunter have to go and sell themselves to companies/organisations. I’ve written extensively on this subject in my jobsearch blog and a detailed article of the elements of a sucessful jobsearch.

  3. Pinyo says:

    @Rose – welcome to Moolanomy. I think you’re right about networking is the most important one on there.

  4. rose says:

    I do agree with all your 5 factor. but i still think networking is the key. 🙂

  5. Pinyo says:

    @Sasha – Thank you so much for the very kind words. That means a lot to me, and amen to becoming one of the top PF blogs (I am still a long long way from there). And, thank you for subscribing to my feed. I have done the same for you and look forward to read your posts.

  6. sjean says:

    Oh and i forgot to mention, i just subscribed to your RSS feed! Thanks for the great content!

  7. sjean says:

    Hi, i visited your blog quite some time ago, and now am back. It is obvious that you have put quite a bit time, effort, and thought into it since it first started. I just wanted to compliment you on that and let you know that i think you are doing a great job and very well could become one of the top pf blogs. (Or maybe you already are! I don’t keep 100% up to date on the blogsosphere!)

  8. Pinyo says:

    @BuildAndSucceed – welcome to Moolanomy. Don’t get me started on Mr. President. 🙂

    @Minimum Wage – where there is a will there is a way. I promise a post written specifically to answer this great question. Please give me a few days.

    @Plonkee – luck plays a role, but I think you need all those elements to be considered a contender. If you don’t have them, I don’t think any amount of luck will help.

    @Raymond – Great point. I don’t think I would trade my current job for a higher paying job right now.

    @Mrs. Micah – I think you are doing the right thing. Highest paying job is NOT necessarily the best job.

    @Patrick – Increased responsibility is always a good thing. It’s usually a prelude to a promotion or a raise. I hope it will work out for you.

    @Mark – Great point — location is a big factor depending on your career. I heard IT jobs are horrendous in Florida.

    @Eric – I love it — the 3H’s — honest, hard working, and helpful. I look forward to see you write a post about that.

  9. Eric says:

    Pinyo this was a great post, and it really spoke to me. I’ve wondered about the exact same things. I feel like I’ve been “lucky” in my jobs, but that’s really not it. I work very hard, and I go out of my way (sometimes too far) to help people when they need help. I’ve also made it a point to never say anything about anyone to another person that I wouldn’t say to their face. I work to try and bring those around me up with me, rather than step on top of them to move up. I always ensure that the right people get the credit they deserve.

    The key to getting a good job, from my perspective, is to be honest, hard working, and helpful (the three H’s). I’m blessed in that I have not had to look for a job since my very first job in the fast food industry. Every job I’ve had since then has found me.

    And I can completely relate with the “introvert” thing. Sometimes I feel I have to force myself to be social in certain situations.

  10. Mark says:

    It is funny to read this right now because I am about to meet with an international company in three weeks out of state.

    I have worked in CT, GA, AK, UT, CO, and MA for all kinds of companies, ranging from contract work to permanent employement.

    Some of my jobs were a matter of who you know, including the company I am meeting with soon.

    Other jobs were a matter of timing, especially seasonal jobs, which is more of meeting a demand than a skill.

    However, breaking the comfort zone, and managing my brand is the key to “moving on up” towards a desired employment.

    It also boils down to location, for example, I am currently living on Cape Cod where it is more seasonal employment (summers). The year-round employments are limited to local needs such as grocery stores, gas stations, etc… as well as concentrated industries such as hospitals and fishing.

    When I lived in Denver, it was more of an all-out employment, ranging from seasonal (work in the mountains) to permanent posistions (tech sector employment).

  11. Patrick says:

    I need a constant challenge as well, or I get bored. I’ve got a serious case of SSDD right now. I’ve been talking to my manager about expanding my tasks and it looks like that will happen soon. Thank goodness! I’ve been going crazy!

  12. Mrs. Micah says:

    I’m thinking about trading a “good” job that pays our bills at least but makes me kind of miserable for a couple of part-time jobs and some freelance work which all are things I value and have enjoyed when I’ve done them. Hopefully ends will meet up ok. If I have to, I can always look for another full-time job…

    For some, getting a good job seems to be a combination of excellent timing and then doing well at the interview (their own contribution). For others, they get the timing wrong and the rest doesn’t seem to fall in place. I think that’s one of the biggest places where luck comes in.

  13. Raymond says:

    A “good job” depends on how you look at it. If I’m working a job that pays me in excess of 6 figures, is that considered a good job? What if I hate what I do? On the flip side, what about a low paying job that is very rewarding?

  14. plonkee says:

    I think people tend to underestimate the role of luck, probably because it tends to average out. It makes more of a difference if you are already at the margins, as it’s difficult to climb back up if you’ve fallen off.

  15. Minimum Wage says:

    How do you keep your skills current if you have a menial dead-end job?

  16. Bill says:

    Personally I think that most people who get great jobs are because of “networking”. Unfortunately, it’s very important who you know. Sometimes (and probably USUALLY) more important than how much you know. Look at Bush.

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