Woman looking at laptop with fingers crossed for luck

Do you feel lucky?

Our UofG careers director Linda Murdoch wants to share with you a theory that might just turn your luck around to help you find your dream job.

Linda Murdoch is director of the University’s Careers Service (photo: University of Glasgow Photographic Unit)

Have you noticed that quite often, if you ask someone how they got their job, they will say “It just happened” or “I fell into it” or “I was lucky.”

Well, there’s a theory based around the concept of luck that’s worth considering if you’re looking for work.

It’s called Planned Happenstance and the idea is that even if you don’t know exactly where your actions will lead, just by being active and doing the right kinds of things, great things can and will happen.

Planned Happenstance isn’t just luck or being in the right place at the right time. It’s a conscious, purposeful and on-going process that can help you create chances, conversations and opportunities for yourself.

Although careers advice will often place a lot of emphasis on planning and systematically looking at what you’re good at and what is out there to help you move into the right job, the reality is that there is an element of chance events that happen, especially in the current labour market where the future of work is rapidly changing.

Pure randomised luck (like winning the lottery) is impossible to predict, but if you follow the four steps below you might generate some good fortune of your own.

Step 1: Clarify your ideas

Be curious. Identify what it is you are interested in, the people or organisations who appeal to you and make a list.

Step 2: Remove the blocks

What’s stopping you? It’s natural to have self-doubt and think “I can’t do that because …” Stop that thought process right now as it will only hold you back. Instead think “How can I make this happen, what can I do …”

Step 3: Expect the unexpected

Be prepared for opportunities such as unexpected phone calls, chance encounters, impromptu conversations and new experiences. When these happen try to make them as meaningful as possible for all concerned, but at the very least make sure you ask if you can connect on LinkedIn (and follow up on that connection) and follow your new contact on their social media.

Step 4: Take action

Learn, develop skills, reach out to people you admire and follow up on chance events. Open yourself up to potential by focusing your ideas, connecting with people and seeing what conversations arise. Try to convert those conversations into actualities.

People with the following qualities are more likely to capitalise on chance events and turn possibilities into opportunities: curiosity, persistence, flexibility, optimism, risk-taking.

Remember, you can’t entirely plan what is going to happen, so you have to have the right mindset, an open mind, to look for opportunities and make the most of them.

Good luck!

This article was first published March 2020.