Four Ways Stink Bugs Are Like Successful Job Seekers

Four Ways Stink Bugs Are Like Successful Job SeekersToday I’m going to tell you a story of how I learned an interesting lesson about job seeking last fall.

Silly me.  I left the screen door open one afternoon to welcome in the fresh autumn air.  By 3:00 there were no less than 30 Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs on the inside of my family room windows.  Each time one of them buzzed against the glass, I shuddered and contemplated some form of poisonous air warfare.  However, as I continued to watch these creatures ricocheting their way through my home, I began to see them less as enemies and more as tiny, determined individuals.  What follows is a light-hearted perspective on the not-so-lighthearted process of finding work.  Four ways stink bugs resemble successful job seekers:

Four Ways Stink Bugs Are Like Successful Job SeekersStinkbugs are tenacious

Each time I opened a door or a window, I spied one of these crazy-looking brown creatures slyly perched on the frame, biding his time, waiting to slide on in.  Anybody can find a job, but landing the right job takes persistence and strategy.  One newly employed woman recently shared with me that after two months of “posting and praying” (applying to advertised positions and waiting for the phone to ring), she finally got it.  She then took the time to compile a well-researched list of potential target companies – companies whose culture fit her needs and had the kind of problems she could solve – and used that list as conversation-starters in a series of coffee meetings with acquaintances and former co-workers.  Within four weeks, she had three solid leads.  Within another three weeks, she had an offer!

Stinkbugs are attracted to the sunny side of the house

I’m no entomologist, but I’m guessing these buggers like warmth because the shady side of our house is curiously devoid of them  (Which is excellent news because now I know which door is safe for me to use!).  I won’t lie, job seeking can be one of the toughest challenges people face in their lives.  As if the roller coaster of emotions isn’t enough, the stress and uncertainty of networking and interviewing can cause even the most confident of individuals to lose faith and energy.  When that happens, it’s tempting to fall into the negativity mind-trap.  However, take it from someone who has watched more than 2,000 people look for work over the past 25 years, the only thing worse than a stink bug in your house is a a job seeker with a “nothing-good-ever-happens-to-me” attitude.  So, find a trusted friend/“an accountability partner,” give yourself hefty doses of compassion every day, post positive affirmations on your mirror if that helps, and do whatever it takes to muster the sun.  You will be rewarded with results.

Four Ways Stink Bugs Are Like Successful Job SeekersStinkbugs periodically make noise

The stink bug’s classic line seems to be, “Look at me, I’m cool, minding my own business, crawling around the inside of your windows, and not making a giant spectacle of myself.”  Then, suddenly he’ll make a crispy, zappy fly-boy sound, ping against the glass, and change positions.  In a way, that’s a lot like what I’ve watched effective job seekers do.  Sure, they have a resume and sure, they send it if it’s appropriate for a job opening.  What’s important is that they know a job search is more than their resume.  Their LinkedIn profiles are up-to-date and inviting.  They comment intelligently on others’ posts and contribute to discussions in relevant LinkedIn Groups.  They prepare one-page distinctive documents that are tailored to positions and companies that match their criteria, and then they use these as precursors to networking meetings or as follow ups to interviews.  They send thank you notes, the hand-written kind.  They find an article of interest that relates to a prior conversation with someone, and send it along with a personalized note.  They find small ways to make a big impact.

Stinkbugs are memorable

I’ve tried.   Oh, how I’ve tried to take the gentle earth-mama approach:  shooing, cupping, scooting, sweeping, duct-taping, vacuuming, and occasionally flushing the little guys.  Even so, sometimes –and I hate to admit this– I smash.  I am then immediately reminded of how stinkbugs got their name.  Now, I’m not suggesting that you carry around a bottle of Eau de Stinkbug and spray it in the face of every hiring manager within a 30-mile radius (although that might be amusing, for a second).  My idea is more along the lines of:  Be Memorable.  What is unique about you (and your cologne doesn’t count)? What value do you bring to an organization?  Are you giving out positive vibes?  Does your image reflect confidence and competence?  Are you clearly articulating your Job Search Focus, meaning WHAT do you want to do and WHERE do you want to do it?  People want to help, but they can only help if they know what you want and see that you are capable of getting there.

My knowledgeable bug-loving friends tell me that these stink bugs will be around for many, many years because they have no known predators.  Begrudgingly, I’m trying to hand over the olive branch.  You can help by adding to this conversation:  How else are stinkbugs like successful job seekers?  Post your reply or email me at

Linda Tefend, CMF, Career and Image Coach, is one of Career Partners International - Cincinnati's most sought-after speakers on topics related to career, image and transition. She is passionate about helping and empowering others to navigate life transitions. Linda's fun and engaging style makes intimidating or uncomfortable topics more easily digestible to audiences. Some of her favorite presentations are 'What to do When You're Not in Kansas Anymore,' 'Cashing In on Dressing Up,' and 'LinkedIn and Your Job Search.'

Career Partners International provides top quality talent management services to organizations of all sizes. Their offices around the world help assessengagedevelop, and transition talent in any industry. To find out more about Career Partners International and how you can maximize your organizational performance, reach out to an office near you or contact us today!

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  1. Megan Meuli's avatar
    Megan Meuli
    | Permalink
    What a funny analogy! It's true, persistence is key during the job search process.
  2. Linda Tefend's avatar
    Linda Tefend
    | Permalink
    Yes, Megan, persistence in a "non-stinky" way!

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