Job hunting is like cooking, except not always this neat and tidy.

Job hunting is like cooking, except not always this neat and tidy.

Cooking dinner at the end of a long day can get messy, and as Tim Gunn used to say, sometimes you’ve just got to make it work. Here’s three reasons why hunting for you next job is like cooking dinner:

You Substitute Ingredients

I’m a recipe follower, not a creative cook, but even I have to get creative sometimes with dinner, because inevitably I’ve forgotten something at the store.

Job hunts work the same way. You don’t need to have every ingredient (ie, skill or talent) hiring managers want in order to apply for the job. If you’re looking for a competitive job, you may need it all, but even then, why not take a shot?

You’ve got a better chance if you network your way into a position that’s not advertised yet. Most hiring managers would rather hire someone an employee vouches for, with most of the qualifications, than a stranger who is perfect on paper. You just need to explain why you’re the ingredient they’re missing.

Timing is Everything

A good cook doesn’t leave the cream sauce on the burner. Sometimes you stand by the stove and watch what’s cooking. October is one of those times when a lot is on the burners.

October is a great month for job hunters. Everyone has had their vacations, but the holidays haven’t hit yet. Year-end budget deadlines loom, pressuring hiring managers to fill openings. And there’s still a back-to-school feel to the air. We’re all trying to be productive.

Try a quick search for openings in your field on to check the temperature of the sauce. How’s it looking out there? Not every industry is hiring right now, but there’s a good chance there will be more action on job boards.

Bite-Size Pieces Help (and Don’t Forget the Sauce!)

For some reason, my kids are more likely to eat anything if it’s cut into bite size pieces and arranged on a pretty plate with a sauce. Broccoli? Sure, in tiny bites with ranch dressing. And don’t get me started on the Arby’s drive through. The panic that goes through our car when they think I’ve forgotten the Arby’s sauce is intense.

Before I wear out this metaphor, think about how to break your job hunt into bite size pieces. Don’t just put “update resume” on your to-do list. Write down “find example of current resume in my field.” Then “update formatting.” Then how about “delete objective and replace with summary.” Break the job hunt down into bite-size pieces.

And don’t forget your secret sauce. What unique combination of experience, talents and skills could you highlight for an employer to make someone panic at the thought of forgetting you at the drive-thru? Are you a realtor who loves pets? A technical writer who loves old cars? There are niches for everything these days, and sometimes if you highlight the off-beat aspects of your background, you can become irresistible.

So as you’re cooking dinner tonight, ask yourself, is it time to cook up a little career shift?