Is it down to luck or hard work?

By Patricia Maloney, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers, Galway

GALWAY - Patricia Maloney
GALWAY – Patricia Maloney

I spoke to somebody recently who had just been offered a job following a two-stage interview process. This person felt that he was lucky to be offered the job based on what he knew to be the level of competition for that particular vacancy. I don’t believe he was lucky. In my opinion, he got the job because he worked hard enough to prove he was the right fit in his initial application and CV and during both interviews. As many successful business people have proven – and, indeed, sportspeople such as golfer Gary Player and many others – “the harder I work, the luckier I get”.

Almost everything in life happens as a result of something we either do, think, or say. A successful job application process is no different. Talking to this person a little bit more proved that point. So what did he do which enabled him to be so lucky? Simple, he worked hard.

Firstly, he studied the initial job spec and made sure his CV and cover letter demonstrated how his skills and background properly reflected the requirements of the job. He looked at keywords in the job spec and matched those to his own background.

He researched the company and found that they were working on some new product developments and made sure to mention this in his cover letter. He found a recent interview with the company CEO which stated that the company was planning to move into new markets. He mentioned this as well in his cover letter and spoke about his desire to work for a company trying to break new ground.

By the time he got to interview stage, he had carried out considerable research into the company. He read several online articles, studied their website, found out who would be interviewing him and looked at their LinkedIn profiles. This can tell you a lot about the background of people on an interview panel and the added plus is that they will see that you looked at them which, in itself, proves your willingness to make every effort to succeed.


During both interviews he was able to structure his answers in terms of how his skills will match the company needs. He had practised this based on the original job spec and prepared on the basis that each requirement on that spec could lead to a question at interview stage.

The secret to his successful job application process has very little to do with luck. It materialised as a result of the hard work carried out in order to prove himself as the best fit for the requirements of the role. It resulted from his CV and cover letter accurately reflecting his suitability for the role.

And most importantly, it happened because he presented for interview confident that he knew about the role, he knew about the company, he understood the culture, he researched the people on the interview panel, and he used all this information in order to structure his answers so that he gave what they wanted to hear.

Walking down the road and finding a €50 note is lucky. Successfully getting the job you want will have little to do with luck and will inevitably depend on the amount of work you put into the process.

But, of course, as the man says, “best of luck anyway”.

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Patricia Maloney is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers, who have offices in Galway, Limerick, Athlone, Sligo and Mayo, plus a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, personal statements and application forms.