They play every four years for one straight month, 32 teams from all over the world with an estimated audience of 30 billion viewers (over 900 million unique viewers watched the final 2010 game) and an average match lasting 55 minutes. The World Cup is a fascinating phenomenon. Viewers are passionate, at times players are out of control, and for example Suarez recently had an episode reminiscent of the Mike Tyson/Evander Holyfield encounter years ago.
Even at this mid-level stage there seems to be a leader in scoring, James Rodriguez, playing for Colombia who has so far scored 5 goals for his team in games that rarely have more than one goal scored in total. What’s compelling about James Rodriguez’ personal brand is that the unassuming 22 year old who plays for Monaco displays a maturity even more seasoned players don’t exhibit. Colombia manager Jose Pekerman explained “Good players make a difference. James has been doing it in each match. He’s been essential and fundamental. He has given us a lot. Such a young player, you expect they play well technically, but he has grown a lot in having responsibility.”
What you can take away from the World Cup in defining your brand is essential, what you would want to be known for: consistent, talented skillful playing or playing so vehemently you become marginally offensive. The stakes are high, and it’s impossible to predict outcomes as in the Mexico-Netherlands match where it seemed as if Mexico would win, only to be unseated at the last minute.
If you apply the experience to job search, it’s even more compelling. Teams are put into eight groups of four teams each, designated A through H. So it’s possible to lose an important game, such as the U.S. vs. Portugal, and still proceed to the next round of games. Translation for job searchers: maybe you are ruled out by one hiring manager only to surface later due to a particular unique skillset you possess. The only constant is to try to stay in the program and not lose hope. You could come in second for a position. You’ve lost to another candidate. Then that candidate gets a counteroffer from their current employer and decides not to make a move. There you are ready to move ahead. This kind of thing happens, so it’s important to maintain good communications even if you have not been selected first.
Perhaps the key concept is staying in play. Never give up, keep networking and developing potential opportunities for yourself always being careful to show off your skills, but more importantly how you can work well within a team. Soccer is a sport that depends on the whole team working together. Rare are there superstars, because winning is a group effort. You can demonstrate this idea when discussing accomplishments by highlighting the group that you worked closely with and how the trust among the group members led to increased productivity and performance. This is a sport that crosses cultures, be thinking how your brand can also appeal to those from different backgrounds, or in a distinct context. You want to be able to demonstrate a universal benefit to a company when they hire you.