Swing for the Fences or “Small Ball” in your Job Search

Ah, springtime.  The flowers bloom, the grass grows, the birds sing and you can hear the crack of the bat (or ping with aluminum) as our national pastime, baseball, gets in gear.  There are two great times of the year, spring and fall, and we are in the  middle of spring right now.

You can tell from my title that baseball is a passion of mine.  I use the passion on purpose.  Passion is something that is more than just passing the time.  Passion involves commitment and effort, not just checking the boxes.  Your job search requires the same type of effort and focus.

We will spend a few moments today discussion a couple of ways to go about your job search.  In doing so, I will use an analogy that is near and dear to my heart, one that refers back to baseball.

Gorilla ball is a term that was coined in the early 2000’s when college baseball had “live” bats that caused games to be quite high in scoring.  When I think of gorilla ball I think of the LSU Tigers and some of their teams with great hitters who put the ball over the fence with reckless abandon.

Small ball is completely different.  Small ball is more of a step by step process and it has become more popular as the bats in college baseball have been calmed down.  Small ball requires great focus and execution and involves the well placed hit, the timely bunt and the stolen base.  I like both strategies, but my favorite team, the Vanderbilt Commodores, are more of a small ball team and less of a gorilla ball team.

So now that you know about baseball, what does this mean for your job search?

When I think of gorilla ball, the term “swing for the fences” comes to mind.  Gorilla ball involves scoring runs in large groups and also requires hitters that can hit the ball a long way.  In job search terms, this means a candidate who is well qualified and almost a perfect fit for a role that is available.  This is rare and in today’s marketplace the gorilla ball strategy is one that is rarely used because there are still several candidates in the market for many types of roles.  If you are a technology professional, especially someone with expertise in EMR, Emergency medical records, the you can be more of a “swing for the fences” guy because the needs are many and those who fit are few.

In many other instances you will need to take the “small ball” approach.  Let me paint two scenarios:


  • runner walks to lead off an inning
  • next hitter sacrifices him to second base
  • runner then steals third base
  • next hitter bunts the ball and the runner scores from third

this is vintage small ball and it requires execution, collaboration and communication.

Job Search

  • job seeker finds a role he/she is interested in
  • job seeker checks their network to see if they know anyone at that employer
  • If they know someone, they contact them and get an internal referral
  • if they do not, they find someone through networking either/and in person or through LinkedIn
  • they get their introduction through their network
  • they get the interview
  • you follow up with a hand written note
  • if all goes well, you get the job

You can easily see that the small ball approach requires more time, research, coordination and communication with those you know and those you need to know.

This type of approach is essential if you want to score in today’s job market.  I realize that you may need some practice in learning how to advance yourself in the eyes of an employer.  I totally glossed over how to structure the resume, how to network and how to use LinkedIn.  I’ll be back for more later this week on those steps.

When you get a chance to score in your job search, don’t just swing for the fences.  Let your team, those you know and those you need/want to know, help move you around the base paths.

Job search, just like baseball, is a team game.  Don’t get stranded on third base in scoring position when you have someone on your team who can help you get across home plate!