For every good job opening you find, chances are there will be
hundreds—even thousands—of people competing against you for
it. There is simply no way you can kill them all.
Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Money Secrets
You are well aware that people compete for jobs. The more desirable the job, the tougher the competition you will face. Most people readily understand this. Fewer, we suggest, recognize how the pursuit of an open job can be framed as one “move” in a multimove game called “a career.” Our contention is that individuals who quickly recognize the career game for what it is—a fascinating, complex, nuanced, real-life, multiplayer game played in real time—can develop themselves to be better players and consequently will have a better chance of successfully competing for the sorts of positions that will help them realize their goals.
Whether you recognize it as such or not, you have been making career moves for some time. Decisions about whether and where to go to college, the choice of a major, whether to join a fraternity/sorority, serving as captain of a sports team, being active in student government, internships and jobs accepted and those turned down, and even whether to read this book—each are moves that may impact your later career opportunities. Some of these moves may have been what we will call career refining—incremental efforts that sharpen your qualifications and focus your résumé. Other moves may have been career defining—these are the successful big swings that create positive disruptions and sharply accelerate your career progress. Still other moves may be blunders that produced terrible results and threaten to set back or stall your career. We call these moves career ending or career limiting—moves that could require you to leave the game or simply send you back to square one. Which one is the case will be a function of the blunder's impact on the company, your previously earned reputation, and the power and influence contained in your network of relationships. These protective factors—reputation