The Job Search: Steak or Bacon?

I love cooking.

When I was young I wanted to be a professional chef. Not because I knew what that mean, only because I loved creating things in the kitchen. My mom instilled a love of cooking in me. I wasn’t much a baking aficionado, I was interested in doing entrees and stuff like that. I have fond memories of watching Wok with Yan back in the 80’s, laughing at this super hilarious guy. We’d make a list of ingredients, shop for them, and then cook up some marvels.

Those were the (simple) days!

Today I still love getting into a kitchen and creating. I will print off five or so different recipes for the same dish, then pick and choose my favorite ideas from each recipe. I love experimenting. My latest is a pretty simple attempt at making jalapeno poppers, which don’t last even a few minutes at my house.

I loved learning how to cook steak. I have done it on a grill, on a smoker, in a broiler, and on a pan. I choose a different method depending on the time I have and what I have going on. If I’m pretty busy I can through them on a smoker… if I want the amazing crisp outside I’ll pan fry or broil.

JibberJobber Steak

I remember learning that the best way to cook a steak (I like medium rare) was with really high heat. Especially at the beginning, you should sear the sides of the steak to keep the juices in. I’m not much of a BBQ or roast person but I love a good seared steak!

I thought I knew how to cook bacon. I love crispy bacon… not burned, but not soggy. My wife turned me on to the BEST way to cook bacon: in the oven.

I thought that was blasphemous. Bacon should be pan fried, shouldn’t it? How else do you get just the right crisp than to cook it in hot pan in its own fat?

Okay, now I’m hungry.

I learned, though, that if you cook bacon in an oven you can get PERFECT bacon every single time without babysitting it. I line bacon on a cookie sheet, then put it a non-pre-heated oven. That is important! Then, I turn the oven to 425 and set the timer for 20 to 25 minutes (depending on how thick the cut is). Once you figure out your time you will get perfect bacon and your life will be changed forever.

Sometimes I don’t want to do a full pan of bacon, so I pan fry. Just depends on my mood, I guess. I learned the best way to pan fry bacon is (a) starting from a not-hot pan, and (b) cook on very low. This goes against everything I would have guessed. It still takes a while, but that’s okay, as long as I plan ahead. In about 25 minutes I can have perfect, crispy bacon.

JibberJobber Bacon


Steak: Super high heat. Some say the hotter the better.

Bacon: start cold and keep low.

Let’s transition to the job search. I have heard 65% of jobs are found through networking. Something like that… the number changes depending on who you talk to.

I had lunch with a guy who landed an amazing job. I asked him how he got it… for sure through networking, right? Nope. He found it online, applied, and landed it. Contrary to all of the stats and best-practices advice, he didn’t network in.

How do you get a burger flipping or taco filling job? Differently than you get an executive or board role!

How do you get a job as a programmer or a marketer or manager? Differently than a laborer or data entry clerk or front desk receptionist.

Sure, you could network into any of those roles. But try and look for a burger flipper entry level job on a job board. You’ll have as much luck there as you will finding the board of director roles.

JibberJobber Burger

You get a burger job by walking into the restaurant and asking for an application.

You get a board role by having other board members or owners know who you are, which can happen because of your network, or the press on you, or your past company exits.

Steak vs. bacon. One isn’t better than the other… but they are different approaches.

When I was in My Big Job Search (the failed one) I read a lot of articles about job search. Many came across as one-size-fits-all. None, I thought, were 100% applicable to me. I needed to learn a little from this one and a little from that one and then put together my own eclectic strategy.

When you get job search advice and just know it isn’t your cup of tea, learn what you can and move on. Tuck away the good stuff to include in your own strategy. If something works wonders for one person, don’t assume it will work wonders for you.

You have to create your own strategy. 

Having said that, in both the bacon and steak example we need heat. There are some constants for everyone. You should be presentable, and be able to communicate enough to get through an interview. You should be able to do the job (see my post about hard skills and soft skills).

There is not one single silver bullet, or one solution for everyone. The job search is complicated because we are dealing with different industries, and humans making decisions, and different levels and expectations and regions and _________. There are a lot of fickle variables. So learn what you can from multiple sources, create your own system that works for your situation, and continually improve as you learn more.

You can do this.