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Two Boats and a Helicopter

As a career coach, I describe myself more as a personal trainer than a bartender. A bartender will listen to your problems and leave you drunk, broke and still with the same problems. A personal trainer will push you out of your comfort zone, and put you on a plan to achieve your goals. The truth often is not what people want to hear, but what they need to hear. Especially with the reality of hunting for a job.

A few years ago, I was working with a candidate that found himself unemployed for the first time in his life. He’d been with the same company since he was nineteen and never had to find a job before. Things were getting rather dire. He had been living paycheck to paycheck and was in danger of losing his house & car.

When I first with him, his primary strategy for finding work was praying for God to facilitate things directly. He was deeply religious - and was sure that God would deliver him from his situation. As he sat in my office, I told him this joke:

A storm descends on a small town, and the downpour soon turns into a flood. As the waters rise, the local preacher kneels in prayer on the church porch, surrounded by water. By and by, one of the townsfolk comes up the street in a canoe.

"Better get in, Preacher. The waters are rising fast."

"No," says the preacher. "I have faith in the Lord. He will save me."

Still the waters rise. Now the preacher is up on the balcony, wringing his hands in supplication, when another guy zips up in a motorboat.

"Come on, Preacher. We need to get you out of here. The levee's gonna break any minute."

Once again, the preacher is unmoved. "I shall remain. The Lord will see me through."

After a while the levee breaks, and the flood rushes over the church until only the steeple remains above water. The preacher is up there, clinging to the cross, when a helicopter descends out of the clouds, and a state trooper calls down to him through a megaphone.

"Grab the ladder, Preacher. This is your last chance."

Once again, the preacher insists the Lord will deliver him.

And, predictably, he drowns.

A pious man, the preacher goes to heaven. After a while he gets an interview with God, and he asks the Almighty, "Lord, I had unwavering faith in you. Why didn't you deliver me from that flood?"

God shakes his head. "What did you want from me? I sent you two boats and a helicopter."

When the joke set in, my client looked at me like I had just slapped him and kicked his dog. I told him to consider me the first boat. We then proceeded to craft a search strategy for him.

I could tell he was still shocked and probably somewhat offended when he left my office. At some point a fire was kindled in his belly and he transformed from passively waiting for something to happen to making things happen.

A few weeks later I was able to add him to a slate of candidates for one of my clients. To be honest, it was kind of a stretch based on his experience, but it was a position he could manage.

He absolutely crushed the interview and got the offer over more qualified candidates.

A few weeks after he started his new job, we went out to lunch (side not: I really miss going out to lunch!) to celebrate his new job. As we wrapped were walking out, he thanked me for helping him find a new role. I thanked him for all the work he put in getting ready for the interview. He was the one who earned the job offer, not me.

He looked me dead in the eye, and said, “Two boats and a helicopter.” He winked and drove off.

A job search can be a long and difficult journey, filled with defeats and uncertainty. But you can always expect people to help you along the way – sometimes from unexpected sources.

Have faith that things will work out in the end…but the Lord helps those who help themselves sometimes. If you are in job transition, we wish you the best of success and a short journey through the wilderness.

If you need a boat or two or even a metaphorical helicopter in your search, we’re here to help.

The Rivet Group is an executive search firm that works with companies across the US to find exceptional talent for their teams. The rivets that hold everything together. If you are hiring for your team or are ready for a new role, let us know how we can help.

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