Successful Job Search: No “Buggy Whip” Candidates Need Apply

For those too young to remember, “buggy whips started to become obsolete when automobiles started to become commonplace in the late 19th century. The buggy whip is now known as an analogy of businesses disrupted by innovation. Buggy whips are often cited…as one of the industries that did not adapt with the advent of the automobile, and thus began the demise of the industry.” (Source:

Although you‘re an individual, not a company, the buggy whip analogy remains valid. If you conduct your job search along lines that are becoming out-of-date, if not already obsolete, you might be exhibiting buggy-whip mentality. In other words, you’re probably sticking to well-tested, long-trusted job search tools that—at best—aren’t as rock-solid as they once were. At worst, they can help sink your job search without a trace! Your reluctance to change methods is understandable. It’s human nature to want to stay within our comfort zone; going outside that zone feels risky.

Keeping up with rapid change can intimidate many job seekers

The change from buggy whips to automobile-related technology happened more quickly than change typically occurred in previous eras, but the rate of change then was nowhere near as rapid as it has since become. Whether or not the current fast pace continues indefinitely remains to be seen. The point to note is that your job search campaigns, now and in the future, need to take it into account.

For many of us, this view of the situation seems intimidating, even overwhelming. You might be deterred from taking more progressive (i.e., “risky”) steps in your job search because of it. A strong fear of change can paralyze you and prevent you from taking any action, or it can just slow the process enough to limit your opportunities for career progression and satisfaction by allowing your less-hesitant competition to leapfrog over you.

You can’t be a productive know-it-all job seeker

Probably no single human being can come close to “knowing it all.” That was true even before the technology explosion changed life as we know it in a huge way. Among other things, this means you can’t ensure ongoing career success by cramming an unlimited store of knowledge into your already stressed brain. Trying to do so might almost literally drive you crazy!

Tough as it might be to accept, you’ll probably have to adopt a selective approach. That includes making realistic decisions on what skills and knowledge to add to your job search “toolbox” to prepare yourself to pursue your next job opportunity—and then revisiting those decisions periodically to ensure they’re still as realistic as you can make them.

Adaptability can drive a successful job search

Back to the buggy-whip analogy for a moment. As notes: “Those companies…that didn’t limit themselves by the exact final product survived. They recognized that the end market was changing and worked to make sure that the products they offered made sense in the new markets as well as the old. The buggy whip makers, on the other hand, didn’t do that….”

Stability might be comfortable, slow change might be tolerable, but rapid change is the reality—at least for now. To avoid taking the buggy-whip route to career oblivion, focus on creating and executing an adaptable job search and career management plan. That’s highly preferable to the alternative!

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