If you don't know where you are going any road will take you there.
Your job search will be more effective and rewarding if you do a little life planning before rushing out and applying for jobs.
Recent science research has shown that in the absence of visible landmarks or cues from the sun, people who are lost can not walk in a straight line (Current Biology 2009). Dropped in the forest on a cloudy day, people will indeed walk in circles, and the same is true for people dropped in the Sahara desert during the day and at night. We are genetically programmed to wander around.
I have seen the same thing in people's careers. A 30 year old mid-career marketing professional I interviewed recently is an example. Without any clear focus this person wandered around from job to job in different industries and locations with out any clear direction of focus. Each time the person was seeking happiness and each time they ended up back where they started, unhappy and looking for change.
So if you want to walk the straight line to career success, don't count on luck or your own sense of direction, create a 'career compass' and set your direction. Of course it is true that the map is not the territory, so you will have to accept that sometimes you will be 'off-course', but overall knowing your direction will help you make smart career decsions when opportunities come along.
This post was inspired by this Scientific American 60 second science podcast.