Escaping from your Job Search Groundhog Day

The actor Bill Murray earned critical acclaim for his performance in 2003's Lost in Translation. It was a great movie about someone feeling like he was in a rut - both with his career and his personal life - and how he escaped from it. An even more striking example of someone stuck in a rut can be found in a movie Bill Murray starred in ten years earlier - 1993's Groundhog Day. Some of you may have seen the movie. Even if you have, I'd like to recount the highlights of the story for you and how this perspective can help you in your job search.


In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a weatherman who has to live Groundhog Day over and over until he gets it "right." To make matters more complicated, he is the only one who knows he wakes up every day and it's February 2nd -- to everyone else, life is progressing as usual. Plus, he has no idea why he has to live the day over and over again and no idea how to get out of it. First he tries being really mean to everyone. Then he tries becoming a criminal -- stealing money from an armored car and getting thrown in prison for drunk driving. He even goes as far as committing suicide several times. But no matter what, every morning he wakes up and it's still Groundhog Day.

He goes through a big slump of feeling completely worthless and mad at the world. Then one day he realizes he should really take action to go after what he wants in life. He decides to pursue a crush he has on his boss, an attractive woman named Rita. At first he tries using his super-powers of living the same day over and over again to gain information he can use to trick Rita into falling in love with him -- such as remembering her favorite foods and childhood memories. This doesn't work because Rita sees through the tricks and realizes he's not being genuine. However in the process, Bill Murray's character actually falls in love with Rita and with her passion for excellence and helping other people.

At this point, a transformation happens in our hero's life. Even though he's stuck in a rut and living the same day over and over again, he decides to make the best of the situation. Instead of being mean to people and ignoring them every day, he starts being nice and helping people. He starts learning new skills like how to play the piano and how to ice sculpt. By the end of the movie, he has really become an amazing individual - saving many peoples' lives and playing the piano in a brilliant concert performance for the townspeople. Rita, his boss, is genuinely impressed and truly falls in love with Murray's character, Phil. They fall asleep together after having had a deep and meaningful conversation, and the next morning it's not Groundhog Day anymore.


The movie Groundhog Day is really a metaphor for challenges many people have in their lives - such as searching for a new job. It is an inspiring story about how most people can very easily fall into a rut of living a life they're not passionate about and how if they actually realize they're stuck in a rut, their first instinct is to just get mad at the world or take shortcuts to get out of it. As the movie illustrates, building a life that you're excited about takes a long-term effort. It requires a commitment to truly follow your dreams even if it means hard work.

Many job seekers do some of the actions that someone looking for a job should do - like sending out resumes or talking to networking contacts. But they're really just going through the motions and their perspective is one of someone who's stuck in a rut. If you have no inspiration and no passion, people will see that -- networking contacts, recruiters, etc. It's also easy to forget that the people you interact with in the job search process are human beings and not just a means to an end. Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day was at first dismissive of Ned Ryerson, an insurance agent who interrupted him on his way to work every morning. In the beginning, Murray's character didn't even treat Ned like a human being -- at one point even knocking him down to get past him.

If you're just going through the motions in your job search and living like it's Groundhog Day over and over again, your results aren't likely to change. But if you start to live with passion and inspiration and truly connect with the people you interact with in your job search, you *will* get what you want. Bill Murray's character didn't need to know how to play the piano for Rita to fall in love with him. But learning that new skill created a passion and excitement that Rita was attracted to. Learning a new skill can have a similar effect in your job search -- employers like to hire people who are going somewhere in their lives. At the end of the movie, all the people of the town were singing Phil's praises because of all the wonderful things he did to help them. This contributed even more to Rita's falling in love with him. If you see people as human beings and use your time to help them, they'll remember and will be more likely to do things to help you in return.


I hope this story encourages you to take action today to inject some passion into your life and really take your job search in the right direction.

About the Author

Scott Brown is the author of the Job Search Handbook ( As editor of the weekly newsletter on job searching, Scott has written many articles on the subject. He wrote the Job Search Handbook to provide job seekers with a complete yet easy to use guide to finding a job effectively.