The other day an aspiring Firefighter came by the fire station. As my partner gave him a tour of our new facility and our equipment, I overheard him say, "Wow, you guys are really lucky to work here." He was right. I do consider myself fortunate to work in such a supportive community and in a very challenging and diverse service area.
The word "lucky," however, reminded me of a tale I once heard about two brothers. One was very successful, the other one, not so much. The brother who had found less success in life went to visit his sibling at his new house. When he walked in and looked around at his brother's amazing new home, he said, "Wow, you have always been a lucky son of a bitch." The brother replied, "Yes, and the harder I work, the luckier I get."
It has been said that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Most candidates prepare by going to school, and taking a few fire department tests. Many, however, don't do much else to prepare and don't do nearly enough to create more opportunities for themselves.
If luck is when preparation meets opportunity, then it makes sense that those who are the most prepared AND have created the most opportunities are the ones that will be "lucky" enough to get the jobs — and that does seem to be the case.
The successful candidate does not wait for opportunities to knock on their door, or hope that they will be "lucky" and land a job. The successful candidate creates opportunities for themselves through hard work, networking and going the extra mile to find success.
In my experience, the successful candidates are not the ones who simply go out and get their certifications and take tests here and there. The successful candidate also networks with firefighters, gains extra training opportunities, seeks part-time and volunteer work in related fields, works in "stepping stone" departments and seeks help to improve their written test scores and polish their interview skills.
So I suggest you try to eliminate the word luck from your vocabulary, or at least redefine what luck means to you and ask yourself what opportunities have I helped to create and what have I done to prepare for my career lately.
For more tips on preparing beforehand and making yourself a more competitive candidate for firefighting jobs, read our past article, "What more can you be doing?"