In Avoiding the Agony of a ‘Bogey’: Loss Aversion in Golf — and Business (November 11, 2009 in Knowledge@Wharton), the author writes, “Tiger Woods and other golf superstars who stand to win millions on inch-long putts apparently are subject to the same fear and aversion to risk that can afflict investors and managers [and I would say also, those who are looking for work]. Taking the safe route, however, has its own costs, according to new Wharton research.”
“In a working paper titled, Is Tiger Woods Loss Averse? Persistent Bias in the Face of Experience, Competition, and High Stakes, Wharton operations and information management professors Devin Pope and Maurice Schweitzer examine putts during pro golf tournaments and determine that even the best golfers systematically miss the opportunity to score a ‘birdie’ — when a player sinks a ball in one stroke less than the number of expected strokes for a given hole — out of fear of having a ‘bogey”‘– or taking one stroke more than what is expected. According to the researchers, for many, the agony of a bogey seems to outweigh the thrill of a birdie.”
As applied to seeking employment, it would seem we ‘job hunters’ are trying to say ‘just the right thing’ often in looking for work, having performed job hunting tasks perfectly and followed some unwritten but somehow mysterious set of ‘rules’ for finding work. In so doing, I wonder if we aren’t doing so out of fear of ‘having a bogey’ [not getting the job] rather than ‘trying for the birdie’ [playing to win the job]–that is, by presenting our talents with clear and pointed attention to what those talents are (our features) and the positive results prior employers have derived from their use (the benefits), having first carefully researched and identified even more clearly what the needs an employer has.
The fear of not getting the job–loss aversion–combined with lack of preparation for articulating and demonstrating our talents may actually be the major deterrent to success in landing the new assignment. What must we do mentally to prepare ourselves to ‘sink a birdie’ ever time we interview? It would appear that banishing our fears and focussing on ‘sinking the putt’ may be our only real obstacle.