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Luck is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity

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Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” And while many people agree that luck does create some level of opportunity – a chance meeting that leads to a job interview or a boss quitting unexpectedly, opening a path to a fast-tracked promotion – nothing enables greater career success than working harder and caring more. In fact, these two values run rampant across the global Allegis Group enterprise and are also echoed in our shared core values and strong culture:

  • We believe in the importance of character. We attract and retain people who commit to high standards and who have the utmost integrity.
  • We pride ourselves on working hard as a team to achieve positive results. Our people demonstrate a relentless competitive spirit, and we strive to be the best in all we do.
  • We build deep relationships that foster trust and enable us to push people to reach their maximum potential. We value differences and believe they make us a stronger company.
  • We believe in serving others. We use honest and direct feedback to help improve our partnerships. And we expect our people to always do the right thing, prioritizing the greater good above self-centered interests.

While the word “luck” doesn’t play a role in Allegis Group’s core values, because St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, it raised the question of whether luck plays any role in the world of talent and human resources. In many countries around the world, March 17 celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish and is traditionally represented with the shamrock, an oft-considered good-luck symbol. So to explore any connection between luck and career success, we sought insights across the Allegis Group global companies. We wondered, “Do employees consider themselves lucky in their careers?” “How important is luck to career success?” “Is there anything one can do to improve his luck?” Posing these questions led to some interesting discussions, for sure!

Things started off light with Aerotek’s  Candidate Manager Chris Wong in Singapore, who said, “Luck plays a big part in success, and I believe the harder you work, the luckier you get. Of course, having good feng shui at your desk helps, too.” 

Aston Carter’s  Manager Aisling Cotter, based in Australia, values hard work and seizing opportunity, especially considering her bold move to relocate to Australia at the age of 23 to build a career and a great social network. “Every day, I feel lucky to be here and agree that luck is something you create for yourself by being open to opportunities, taking a chance, and being positive,” she says. “The more you are open to taking a chance and have a positive outlook on life, the more luck you create.”

It would seem that Aston Carter’s Lead Consultant Alistair Robinson lives by the same mantra.  Alistair, who works in London, prefers to think about what more he can do or control with regards to a candidate going in for interview or the client who is hiring for the requisition. “I find that a few well-placed calls or a strong reference for the candidate is more likely to push through a 50/50 decision than crossing one’s fingers,” he implores.

Other experiences have more to do with the dedication and hard work Aston Carter puts into working with candidates and clients than luck. “We have had candidates be rejected in favor of other candidates through different agencies, only for those candidates to turn down the offer and we end up making the placement,” says Alistair. "We have also had managers get in touch with us to recommend candidates for roles that have resulted in a deal.” 

A successful sportsman, Alistair adds that many people have been asked about the role of luck in their success. As Ben Hogan, one of the best golfers ever said, “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” More recently, tennis star Serena Williams said, “Luck has nothing to do with it, because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.” 

“It is the same with staffing, recruiting, and global talent solutions,” says Alistair. “For all of the luck other people in the company may have perceived me to have, I have chased down countless dud leads and met with hundreds of clients with no hiring needs.” Alistair perseveres by stretching himself. “Try and reach those clients people are scared to call, build new areas that other people have not looked at, meet all of your candidates, and push yourself every day to reach your goals. The more you do that and the more touchpoints you make in the market, the more likely you are to be ‘lucky.’”

Allegis Global Solutions’  Director of Human Capital Solutions Erin Moore proclaims she feels lucky “to have found a career that enables me to work with great people, help companies put people to work, and be part of an industry that is changing every single day. I feel lucky to work with people that inspire me to work harder and think creatively.”

While Erin agrees luck is nice and thinks there is a degree of being in the right place at the right time, she ultimately feels that hard work, loyalty, and being a good person are more impactful to her success in Austin, Texas. “I think you can improve your luck by adding value, being someone that people want to work with, and being dependable and innovative.  You can create your luck by putting out into the world what you want to get back but never expecting anything.”  

GettingHired’s  Executive Director Tracey Klein, uses the word “luck” carefully in her Atlanta, Georgia home, particularly in discussions with her 12-year-old son, with whom she instructs about the differences “among luck, being fortunate, and making good decisions that lead to positive outcomes because we work hard and plan accordingly.” Along with these meaningful life lessons, Tracey does consider herself fortunate to have parents who value education and taught her she could do and be anything she wanted. 

And while she doesn’t necessarily consider herself lucky in her career, she does recognize good timing when she sees it. “Just a couple of years ago when Allegis Group acquired GettingHired, I thought to myself, ‘I would really like to be involved with that organization.’ Fast forward to today and as timing would have it, I was able to raise my hand and say, ‘I think I am the right leader for GettingHired, and here we are.’”

Tracey has indeed found a few four-leaf clovers in her career, and when she thinks about Allegis Group’s core values – particularly serving others and relationships, treating everyone with kindness and respect, thinking before you speak, and returning every call timely – “these very basic guidelines will be remembered and get you far. You never know who might be your client, boss, or neighbor someday!” 

Finally, we spoke with TEKsystems’ Senior Consultant Melanie Temml, who works in Stockholm, Sweden.  She expressed that sales and recruitment success is not created from luck but from hard work and going the extra mile. “I was lucky to have a great mentor when I came in, but I had to work even harder than everyone else to build up my career from scratch.” 

Melanie agrees that pure luck will not guarantee career success. Instead, the key is to understand that for recruiters, the more calls you make, the more candidates/consultants you meet and the more candidates you present, the more likely you’ll be to find meaningful job opportunities for those individuals. “I relate career success to success in sports careers, and it is exactly the same recipe for success: the harder you train, the more hours you put in and the more you care about winning, the better you will become. I use the same motto in other aspects in life and am winning a lot of gold medals in Taekwondo fighting. Winning is not based on luck.”

So it seems that no matter the geography, luck can provide an unexpected boost, but working harder and caring more is the heart of what makes one feel truly “lucky.”  

And if you find yourself on this St. Patrick’s Day knee deep into a job search, start turning your luck around by perusing our job board.


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