You don’t have to know all the answers. And you don’t have to make decisions up front either. Playing the “see what happens game” means that you’re just going with the flow, throwing your hat in the ring for opportunities and being open to possibilities without examining every single detail.

When we get down into the nitty gritty detail, we often end up stalling and not taking action. What would happen if you postponed the examination and decision making until later in the process and for now, you just went along with an open mind?

Links I mentioned in this episode:

9. Playing The ‘See What Happens’ Game

[00:00:00] Hi, there I’m Bec McFarland the host of the Pop Your Career Podcast. As a career coach, I’m most passionate about helping my clients to discover their own personal flavour of career fulfillment. In this podcast, we are going to be exploring ways that you too can feel more fulfilled by your work. So strap yourself in, get ready for the ride. The tips around here are fast and in abundance.

[00:00:29] Hello hello. It is Bec McFarland here helping you do better and be better in your career. Now, today, I’m going to talk to you about playing the, see what happens game. And I love this because it’s actually a concept that was shared to me many, many, many years ago, by my best friend, Steven.

[00:00:56] He would always say to me, we don’t have to plan, [00:01:00] let’s just play the, see what happens game. And for me, that was kind of new, right? because I am inherently probably as far from spontaneous as you could possibly get. I am a little bit of a planner. I like to have things organized, have my ducks in a row and make my decisions ahead of time. So the idea of just seeing what happens, it can feel a little bit scary. But what I’ve really been able to do is to apply this topic to something that comes up so often in my career coaching practice. And that is around this kind of idea of like, should I apply for this job?

[00:01:45] Now I have clients asking me this question all the time. Like all the time, every single week, every single week. Someone is sending me a position description or telling me about a [00:02:00] job that they’ve seen on a job board or talking to me about a team, their place of employment that might be looking for someone else to join.

[00:02:10] And the question is always like ‘do you think I should apply for this job?’ And that might be because they’re not sure if they have the skills, they might not necessarily be sure whether the organization or the team is quite right for them. There’s usually some reason that maybe they’re just not quite sure about whether they should go ahead and apply.

[00:02:34] Sometimes it’s even just that they don’t know if they’re ready. And what I always say to people, why don’t you play the see what happens game? Because what is happening when people are asking me this question is that they are effectively front loading their decisions. Now, when you are applying for a job, there is actually no decision for you to make in that moment.

[00:02:58] Really! When you break it [00:03:00] down because there’s no decision that needs to be made until you are actually offered the role. Now, I think that the reason that we have so much trouble with this is that we are kind of conditioned to almost believe if we go through a recruitment process and we submit an application and then we go for an interview and they do our references, and then we get to that point where they’re going to offer us a job, it’s like, we feel a little obligated to say yes.

[00:03:28] So I think this is the reason that many, many people are starting to front load those decisions, you know, make a decision right up front before even applying about whether it is the right job or the right environment or the right team, the right manager, the right organization.

[00:03:44] Because they’re worried that when they get to that later point in the recruitment process, that it’s almost like it’s locked and loaded and that they don’t have any choice anymore. But of course, when we think about it, logically, that is completely not true. And I can tell you that [00:04:00] people turn down jobs all the time. It is really not that big of a deal. And anybody who makes you believe that it’s that big of a deal is only looking out for themselves.

[00:04:12] So whenever I have a client that comes to me and they say to me, you know, ‘should I apply for this job? What do you think about it?’ My answer is always like, why don’t you just throw your hat in the ring? What is the worst thing that could happen? You know, there is no worst case scenario here. Of course it does take time to put together applications and to submit them and to kind of go through the process.

[00:04:36] But for me as a career coach, I know that practice makes perfect and I always see that my clients get so much better at interviewing and selling themselves when they’ve had some experience going through that process. So I know it does take time, but my suggestion is that it is a really great opportunity for you to hone [00:05:00] your skills and to get better at showing up for interviews and tailoring your applications to suit the types of jobs that you might be interested in applying for in the future.

[00:05:10] When it comes to the actual decision making process, this is another area that I think most of us could really improve. So let’s say that you have applied for the job. You took my advice. You decided to play to see what happens game. We’re going to throw an application in, throw the hat in the ring. You get called for an interview, you go for an interview, perhaps they call your references and you get to a point where they have offered you the role.

[00:05:35] So this is usually the point where we would say, ‘yes, I’d love to join you’. And then we would begin that process of negotiating and signing letters of offer and things like that. But that is not a given. So as I’ve already shared with you, it’s totally okay to turn down a job or decide that maybe it’s not the right opportunity for you, but how do we really know?

[00:05:56] Because what most of us are doing is when we [00:06:00] get to that point, we’re relying on the information that we already know based on the recruitment process. So we know what we read in the original advertisement. We know the kind of vibes that we got throughout the interview. We know the answers to the questions that we asked in the interview, and then any answers to questions that perhaps we’ve asked throughout the rest of the recruitment process.

[00:06:23] But what we don’t know is the deeper stuff, the stuff that really matters. Now, in an earlier episode, I spoke to you about career values and this is a great opportunity to really check the place of employment, the team, the manager, all of those things against your career values to make sure that everything is in alignment.

[00:06:44] This episode is brought to you by the Career Clarity Quest, my absolutely free, seven day program, which is designed to support you in getting so much clearer about your next steps. Find it at [00:07:00]

[00:07:04] Now I’m based here in Australia, but I know that in America, there’s this thing that’s called informational interviewing what this means is that you could potentially approach somebody from an organization and you would interview them with the aim of finding out more information about what it’s like to work there.

[00:07:23] This is a totally underutilized tool here in Australia and something that I wish more people would do. But I think we get a little bit paranoid thinking about like, ‘what’s the employee going to think of us? What if they say no?’ In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying ‘thank you so much for the job offer. I really appreciate it. However, I’m wondering if it would be possible for me to take one of your team members out for a coffee, just so that I can ask some additional questions about what it’s like to work for your organization’. If that person [00:08:00] says no way, then maybe that’s raising a few red flags, but most employers are going to be totally happy for you to do this. And it actually means that you are just as invested as they are in terms of making sure that this is a really great employment fit.

[00:08:17] What I usually encourage people to do is to craft some really interesting and careful questions based around what your career values are. So for example, if one of your career values is work life balance, and it’s important for you to be able to leave work at three o’clock in the afternoon to go and pick up your kids, or to be able to disappear sporadically in order to be able to go to kids’ assemblies and things like that, then that would be an important thing for you to gauge before you start working there. Right?

[00:08:47] So in an informational interview, you may ask the person, ‘Hey, you know, work life balance is really important to me because I’ve got a couple of kids under the age of 10. In my current place [00:09:00] of work. I’m able to leave work to go and pick them up from school and to attend their assemblies and stuff like that. I’m just wondering, you know, what kind of work life balance culture. Do you have in your place of work? Are there many people who have got kids? And do you find that they have the flexibility to go and pick their kids up from school?’

[00:09:18] Now that’s just one example, of course, and everybody’s career values are going to be different. And this is why I say that you should actually spend some time crafting some questions that are relevant to your specific career values so that you can gauge these things in this informational interview situation.

[00:09:37] What I find is once I’ve explained this process to people and they understand that they have an opportunity to find out more information later on in the process and that they also have that permission slip to make a decision when they’re offered the role, instead of making a decision today, I find that people are a hell of a lot more [00:10:00] confident and comfortable about throwing their hat in the ring and testing the market for lots more opportunities.

[00:10:06] So what do you think? Are you already front loading all of your decisions and do you think it might help to just be a little bit more free and easy with the type of applications that you’re submitting? Do you think that this playing the see what happens game kind of idea could help you to change your perception of the job seeking process?

[00:10:28] Or are there other ways in your career that you might be able to utilize this concept? That’s all I’ve got for you today. I hope that you have a brilliant week and I’m looking forward to seeing you again in next week’s episode.

[00:10:42] Thanks so much for listening to the Pop Your Career podcast. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s tips and that you found value in what I’ve shared with you. If you like your career advice quick and entertaining, I would love for you to subscribe. [00:11:00] Also leave me a rating and a review. If you want to continue the conversation, come and join me over on social media. You can find me everywhere at Pop Your Career. I’ll see you soon.


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About the author 


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.