My husband and I recently decided to put our house on the market. We had this silly notion that we could get a reasonable price for the antique house we’ve renovated, maintained, and loved for 10 years and find something equally good in the same town—just smaller and closer to our kids’ schools.
So we cleaned the place top to bottom, touched up the paint, fixed the wobbly doorknobs, took out the piles of paper that had accumulated on the kitchen counter, and gave away bags and bags of outgrown clothing. The place looked fabulous and we put it on the market at the asking price our realtors had recommended. It was lower than we'd hoped, but you have to be realistic.
To make a long story short, we had no showings whatsoever, and eventually concluded our timing was terrible, the real estate market sucks, and we were better off staying right where we are for now.
But the experience got me thinking about the many parallels between house selling and job hunting. For example, here are five similarities:
- You can’t let your ego price you out of the market. The selling price and salary you could have commanded five years ago were probably a lot higher than what you’ll get today. No homebuyer or employer wants to overpay, no matter how perfect the house or candidate.
- Some people won’t even consider an older home (or worker). Don’t waste your time worrying about them. Fortunately, there are plenty of people who are neutral on the age factor, and even some who prefer the charm, character, and workmanship of the older models.
- You have to do the upfront legwork. If there are two good houses or two good job candidates, the decision often comes down to the one that seems more “move-in ready.” If you’re a house seller, that might mean you have to strip the ‘70s wallpaper or replace the aging water heater. As a job seeker, keep your skills up to date, and learn the company’s challenges, goals, and culture before your interview.
- The reality had better match the hype. Artfully cropped pictures on a web listing or fancy words in a resume might attract people initially, but they quickly figure out if the reality doesn’t live up to the advertising. Don’t lie, don’t exaggerate. Just clean up, de-clutter, and show yourself (or your home) in the best possible light.
- It’s a buyer’s market these days. If you’re trying to get hired or trying to sell your house, the burden is on you to make compromises, do homework, and go above and beyond the competition to stand out.
The silver lining for my own situation is that I now live in a much cleaner, more rejuvenated house than I did a few months ago. I kind of feel like George Bailey in the scene near the end of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” where he’s so happy to be home that he kisses the broken staircase finial on his way up the stairs.
Sometimes you have to really explore what’s out there before you realize it’s OK to stay put in a job or a house that may not necessarily be perfect, but is entirely good enough.
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