While any of you triskaidekaphobics out there might want to sit this day out, for the rest of you, happy Friday the Thirteenth! I hope that none of you will try to walk under a ladder, inside with an umbrella up, while breaking a mirror and holding a black cat as you spill salt and hang a horseshoe upside down. But if you do, please send me a photo because I don’t think it’s humanly possible.
Nobody actually knows why Friday the Thirteenth is a thing. Some say it’s from the Christian religion, where Friday represents the day that Christ was crucified, and the thirteen represents the thirteen people who sat together at the last supper (the thirteenth being Judas). Hence Friday and thirteen together being a really bad idea. Or, it could be that in 1307, hundreds of Templar Knights were arrested in France on Friday the Thirteenth (we know at least that it was an unpopular day in Chaucer’s time, as he makes a reference to it in his saga The Canterbury Tales). It could also just be the fact that thirteen is an irregular number – there are twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve months in a year, twelve apostles, twelve deities of Olympus, twelve hours on the clock face… thirteen’s just one too many. Whatever the reason, people do seem to believe in it – it’s estimated that between $800,000,000 – $900,000,000 is lost every year on this day by businesses in The United States of America alone, with 17,000,000 – 21,000,000 residents admitting to feeling a fear of this day. That’s a lot of people taking the day off work to look for four-leafed clovers.
While I’m not advocating that we all hide under our beds today (I’m writing this blog at my desk, I promise) it’s obvious that luck and superstition play a powerful part in the human mind-set. While it’s an old cliché to say that ‘your attitude determines you altitude’, having a positive attitude when you go into a job interview is an important part of the process, and lucky charms play a big part in making people feel more confident. A lot of famous sports stars and celebrities have lucky charms that they wear, or rituals that bring them luck – Tiger Woods always wears a red shirt on the last day of a golf tournament, Serena Williams bounces her tennis ball five times before she serves, Scrooge McDuck has his lucky dime, and Bilbo Baggins has the One Ring… alright maybe that’s not the best example.
A lot of people have superstitions about job hunting as well – some say that you should always place a glass of water under your bed the night before a job interview (I have no idea why, but it works for some people!), or wear your favourite shirt or necklace, or carry a four-leaf clover or a rabbit’s foot (preferably not still attached to a rabbit, because that might be difficult to explain to a potential employer. I know we all say that you should make yourself memorable, but there are limits).
The more confident you feel going into a job interview, the more likely it is to have a successful outcome – first impressions really do count! Research conducted by Judge, Higgins and Cable of the Universities of Iowa and North Carolina indicates that employers make the decision of whether or not to hire a job applicant after around four minutes of interview time, which isn’t very long. Feeling lucky gives your confidence a boost. So whether or not you listen to your favourite song, rub your lucky penny, or eat your lucky breakfast cereal (there has to be something in Lucky Charms, right?) before you go into your job interview, indulge in your own superstitions, and good luck!
And I’ll see you all on March 13th. (And on November 13th!) Go ahead, check your calendars.