How One Job Seeker Did His Best and Found a Job in an Unexpected Way

“Always do your best” is the fourth agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz’ bestselling book “The Four Agreements.” His view on this agreement is not the hard-driving performance-focused “best” that you think it might be. In the book he writes, “Keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.”

When you are sick, tired or upset, your best is going to look different than when you are healthy, full of energy and happy.

The many ups and downs of looking for a job can cause you to put undue pressure on yourself. You might think that you are not doing your best during times when don’t get responses to your inquiries. Maybe you say something in an interview you think you shouldn’t have said or forget to follow up.

According to Ruiz the first three agreements of “Be impeccable with your word,” “Don’t take anything personally” and “Don’t make assumptions” only work if you do your best. “You don’t need to judge yourself, feel guilty, or punish yourself if you cannot keep those agreements.”

The story of how my friend Tim found a job is an example of how doing your best by taking action can bring unexpected results.

Tim is a positive, friendly guy and a skilled business analyst who had been looking for a job for about five months. He was running out of money and getting worried. Every time I talked to him he would give me an update, and we exchanged occasional text messages. Some weeks were better than others. Here are some excerpts from his text messages to me over the course of two months:

“I got depressed and decided to blow off the week.” (I had invited him to a networking meeting.)

“My week has been up and down, no new connections, but made a personal breakthrough.”

“I’m making a lot of changes to my approach, didn’t get a chance to network, but I needed this delay to gain confidence and momentum going forward.”

“Getting sick of interviewing.”

“[Very Large Company] is a no go, they want someone internal. Back to the drawing board. Very frustrating.”

Clearly Tim was doing his best. He admitted his frustrations and knew himself well enough to know that networking when depressed was a bad idea. Tim was acting on this wisdom from Ruiz: “When you overdo, you deplete your body and go against yourself, and it will take you longer to accomplish your goal.” Yet he kept moving forward as much as he was able to, even after the setback of being rejected for two jobs at one of the area’s largest employers.

One day a few weeks ago I sat down to interview him for an article about company culture. There was one job that he was excited about, particularly because of the company’s family-oriented culture. He was in the final round, and the company had asked him for 15 references. That sounded excessive to both of us, but he calmly scanned his contact list and gave them what they asked for.

I didn’t hear from him for a week, and then I got a text: “I got a job that starts Monday in Houston and then on May 1 I am going back to Jacksonville, Florida to work permanently.”

I was shocked. I didn’t even know he had been applying to companies in Jacksonville, where he had lived before moving to Texas.

When we sat down to talk about it he told me he hadn’t applied out of state. One of the 15 references that had been called for the job here in Texas called him out of the blue. This former colleague was now a hiring manager. “I have an opening. Can you start right away?” he asked.

There was no interview required other than their phone conversation, and within a day he had an offer letter. He received the offer on a Thursday and started the next Monday at the company’s location in Houston for a week, and then will work remotely until he relocates.

“When you always do your best, you take action,” writes Ruiz. Tim took action on a regular basis and was rewarded. After two years away from Jacksonville, he was excited to be going back to what he calls “a strong social and professional network.” To top it off, he found an apartment larger than the one he had here for 30 percent lower rent. His commute will be only 10 minutes long, and he’ll be living 10 minutes from the beach.

“You know, in the end, getting the job was really about networking. But in the least expected way,” he said in a text message.

Doing your best can bring great surprises. It just requires taking action and doing your best from day to day and moment to moment.