Never Give Up, Never Surrender – The Clarion Call of the Hiring Process

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The movie Galaxy Quest was released in 1999.  It was a big success as the crew of the Protector battled the aliens to save the Thermians.  The film parodies classic science fiction films like Star Wars and all the sci-fi television series like Star Trek.  The cult following of those space shows does not escape lightly either.  In short, it was a great film.  It may be a stretch, but the film includes lessons about the hiring process.

The hiring process lessons in the movie are summarized in the immortal words of Captain Nesmith, the hero of Galaxy Quest. “Never Give Up, Never Surrender.”  The call from the Captain applies today – to both who are hiring and those who are seeking a job.

Although hard to understand for those seeking a job, organizations are often desperate to fill positions.  The process can be incredibly frustrating for a hiring manager.  Often, when the need is greatest, a job will go unfilled.  I have heard more than one hiring manager declare, “I know there are thousands of people out there looking for a job exactly like this.  Why can’t we find the person to fill it?”  This is exactly the time not to settle.  As I often say, “availability is not a skill”.  But when the waves are crashing, the bombs are exploding, the customers are barking and the boss is threatening, any hiring manager might let the guard down to fill the job.  Although instincts might tell you otherwise, you settle for less than what you really wanted to fill the job.  Don’t do it.  Never give up on what you are really looking for in a candidate.  Never surrender to the pressures and settle just to fill the job.  We have all done it and we all suffer the consequences of a poor performer – sometimes for years.

For the job seeker, the same clarion call to action applies.  Even after sending out more resumes than seems possible without ever receiving a response; even after dressing up and going on dozens of “informational” interviews; even after those unpaid internships that were supposed to lead to a job, even after moving back home with Mom and Dad and little brother; even after your friends all get jobs at Google; even when your career seems on a track to no where – Never Give Up, Never Surrender.  But that doesn’t mean sitting on a couch watching “Lost in Space” re-runs.   What “never give up” means is stick with it.  The job you are seeking will happen.  But “never surrender” may require a new strategy and asking some hard questions like:

  1. Should I develop a different skill set so that you will be hired? The skill might be as simple as learning about spreadsheets or how to give a better presentation.  Or the skill could be much more technical or require a return to school.  Even if learning the new skill may not fulfill a lifelong dream, the new skill can get you the job that will allow to get in the proverbial door.
  2. Should I keep waiting around until an organization is desperate and willing to take a chance on me? This usually does not turn out well. There is the possibility that something good will happen once you are “in”, but it’s a long shot.  Hard as it might be for job seekers to understand, waiting is not a good strategy.  Waiting is sort of giving up/surrendering.
  3. Should I change directions by choosing a different career? This is not giving up, this is being practical.

I suspect Captain Nesmith (Tim Allen) never knew the far-reaching impact that he would have on all parts of the galaxy.  He saved the Thermians, satisfied his adoring fans and, taught us something about the hiring process.

Happy Postscript – it was recently announced that the Galaxy Quest crew has found a new home.  Amazon Studios is developing a series based on the film.

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