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The college basketball finales are upon us! Everywhere you look, there's a basketball game! People stop and stare. Office polls lure co-workers into showing how well they can predict a winner and cash in big. Productivity at the workplace stagnates a bit. People forget about how long their layover at the airport delays them since the big game is on. Who cares if I'm late! The Game is on!

For those in uniform and military spouses, a different kind of "madness" happens now. You might be marching out of military service and into a new career! Thousands of job applications arrive at a company for just one position to fill. The talent pool gets narrowed down to 68. One by one, the best of the best move forward with a chance to win.

Then, only four remain. Will you march out of the madness and into the job?

Let's take a look at what college basketball can teach us about how you can make the final four candidates and win that job!

Employers Tend to Pick the Top Seeds

In the game of Basketball, it's all about statistics and choosing who will be the winner. Everyone wants to pick the number one choice. Why would an employer be any different?

You need to position yourself as numero uno. Can you measure your success? Can you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are the top seed for the job? Do you know how to get there?

In what ways can you demonstrate that you are one of the final four candidates for the job?

The Next Cinderella Story

You might recall famous college basketball Cinderella stories, when teams seemed to come out of nowhere and got the job done. The promise and determination exhibited by these teams made everyone pay attention. What about you?

Maybe you have an unknown talent that's not visible on your performance review. Maybe you have secretly developed a skill that's relatively untested and undocumented. Maybe you need to make it known!

Do you have what it takes to become the next Cinderella story at a hiring company?

Automatic Bids (Who Do You Know?)

Some college teams performed so well during the regular season, that they got an automatic bid into the college basketball tournament. It doesn't happen all the time and some talented teams get overlooked. But, when the powers that be recognize that a team deserves a chance, great opportunities present themselves this way.

When I hear people say "It's all about who you know!" it's usually in a negative sense. There's a perception that the person who got the job has connections that nepotism made it happen, or somehow someone automatically got the job because of friendships or interpersonal relationships. This may be true, but here's a chance for you to get an automatic bid into a job.

Learn to make your own connections! Nobody is stopping you from networking and meeting new people. You can sit on the sidelines (or bench, computer, or elsewhere) and wait for someone to put you in the game, or you can get out there and shake some hands.

The more people you meet, the more you demonstrate that you deserve a chance, the more chances you get to be the beneficiary of an automatic bid.

Fundamentals and Basics

You probably thought I was going to write about dribbling, passing, and rebounding. Nope. I've chosen to go directly to a sports legend for wisdom on fundamentals and basics. What follows transcends any profession — sports, careers, and military. You might be surprised at this.

Sometimes we win interviews, sometimes we lose. Depending on your worldview, this may be something difficult for you to deal with. Many lessons can be learned not only in sports, but in life as a military person. In a job search, the fundamentals and basics remain important. But, there's more to it than that as you'll see. Let's wrap this up by exploring what coach John Wooden said about this.

Bill Walton said it best: Coach Wooden "never gave us the answers, he just told us how to get there."

Do you have people in your life who can tell you how to get there? My hope is that you can apply some of the sage advice and teachings of Coach Wooden in your pursuit of a new career and make the final four candidates and win!

99 Things About John Wooden

John Wooden: Intergalactic Treasure Video