by Kate Wendleton
He’d been thinking about Bill that afternoon,
trying to decide how to fit him into Deadwood Brickworks, Inc.
It wasn’t a question he could be useful.
Anybody could be useful when you decided where they fit.
That was what business was.
Pete Dexter, Deadwood
Do you want a job? Follow-up is the only technique that influences the person who interviewed you. You may think you can get a job through a search firm, answering an ad, networking, or directly contacting a company. But what you get are interviews, not jobs.
Follow-up is the way to turn those interviews into jobs. One approach to your job hunt may be like this:
1. Develop a list of companies in your target area.
2. Find the names of the people you should see in each company.
3. Somehow get in to see them (through a search firm, an ad, networking or direct contact).
So far, you are getting interviews in your target area. You are not job hunting yet. You prove your mettle by seeing how–over the long-run–you can turn each interview into a job. Now you’re job hunting. And that’s where follow-up comes in.
Remember, you generally don’t want a job offer at that first meeting. An easy hire decision may mean an easy fire decision later. Instead, establish a long-term relationship. It is not unusual to be brought in for anywhere from three to nine or more interviews.
Influence the Decision
Most job hunters think follow-up means calling to ask for the status. This is ineffective, and here’s why.
Most jobs are created for people:
Most interviewers don’t clearly know what they will want the new person to do. Yet most job hunters expect the hiring manager to tell them exactly what the job will be like. Job hunters get annoyed when the manager can’t spell the job out exactly. They think the managers are stupid for not being clear about what they want.
But generally the job description depends on who will be in the job. Therefore, it’s up to you to help them figure out what the new person should do. If you don’t help, another job hunter will come along who will help them figure it out.
That’s why statistics prove that the person who is interviewed last has a better chance of being hired. Here is what often happens:
- You go in for an interview. When I, your counselor, ask you how it went, you tell me how great it was: the manager really liked you. The two of you hit it off, and you’re sure you will be called back. You see this interview as something frozen in time, and you wait for the magical phone call.
- But, after you left, the manager met with someone else who brought up new issues. Now his criteria for what he wants has changed somewhat, and consequently, his impression of you has also changed. He was honest when he said he liked you at your meeting, but things look different to him now. Perhaps you have what he needs to meet his new criteria, or perhaps you could convince him that his new direction is wrong, but you don’t know what is now on his mind.
- You call to find out “how things are going.” He says that he is still in the process of interviewing and will call you later. You didn’t know it, but you were already out of the running. And your call did nothing to influence his decision: You did not address his new concerns. You asked for a status report, and what you got was a status report.
You want both breadth and depth
in your job hunt:
You have both when you
are in contact on a regular basis with
6 to 10 people who are in a position to
hire you or recommend that you be hired.
- Now he meets with still more people, and he further defines the direction this position should take. Interviewing is helping him decide what he wants. And you are getting further and further away from his new desires.
- But you are not aware of this. You remember the great meeting you two had. You remind me that he said he really liked you. You insist on freezing that moment in time. You don’t want to do anything to rock the boat or appear desperate. You hope it works out. “The ball is in his court,” you say, “I gave it my best. There’s nothing I can do but wait.” So you decide to give it more time. . . time to go wrong.
Annie: . . . you want to give it time–
Annie: . . . time to go wrong, change spoil.
Then you’ll know it wasn’t the real thing.
Tom Stoppard, The Real Thing
What You Can Do During the Interview
If you come into an interview with the goal of getting a job, you are putting too much pressure on yourself to come to closure. When you walk away without an offer, you feel discouraged. And when you walk away without even knowing what the job is, you feel confused and lost.
Boone smiled and nodded.
The muscles in his jaw hurt.
“What I meant was did you ever
shoot anybody but your own self.
Not that that don’t count . . . “
Pete Dexter, Deadwood
Instead of criticizing managers who do not know what they want, understand them: “I can understand that there are a number of ways you can structure this position. Let’s talk about your problems and your needs. Perhaps I can help.”
Your goal in the interview is not to get an offer. Your goal is to build a relationship with the manager. This means you are on the manager’s side–assessing the situation, and figuring out how to move the process along so you can continue to help define the job.
That’s what you always want to do: Move it along over a number of meetings. Keep it going. Assess the situation, and determine what the next step should be, and then do what you can to move it along some more.
Pay Attention to Your Competition
Most job hunters think only about themselves and the hiring manager. They don’t think about the others being considered for the position. But you are different. While you are moving it along, you are paying attention to your competition. Who are they? Perhaps you ask the hiring manager: Who else is being considered? What do they have to offer? What kind of person would be considered an ideal candidate? How do you stand in comparison with them?
Therefore be as wise as serpents
and as harmless as doves.
You are acutely aware at all times that you have competition. Your goal is to get rid of them. As you move the process along, you can see the competition dropping away because you are doing a better job of addressing the hiring manager’s needs, coming up with solutions (and proposals) to solve his problems, researching and showing more interest and more competence than your competitors. You watch your competitors drop away as you move the process along.
You are in a problem-solving mode. “My goal isn’t to get a job immediately, but to build a relationship. How can I build a relationship with this person–so that someday when he or she gets his act together and decides what he wants, he’ll want me.” You have hung in there. You have killed off your competition, and you are the one they want. You have helped define your own job in a way that suits both you and the hiring manager. They want you. You have the option of saying: do I want this job or don’t I?
Big shots are only little shots
who keep shooting.
Biblical waiting, the kind of waiting Abram and Sarai did,
and which you and I must learn to do,
is a very active kind of waiting.
It’s a faith-journey; the waiting of a pilgrimage.
We can only wait for God to give us
what we cannot do ourselves;
but, paradoxically, we must move toward it in faith
as we wait, asking, seeking and knocking . . . .
Ben Patterson, Waiting
Success seems to be largely a matter of
hanging on after others have let go.
The preceding is an excerpt from The Five O’Clock Club Book Series by Kate Wendleton. The Five O’Clock Club, Forty-Year Vision and Seven Stories Exercise are registered trademarks of The Five O’Clock Club, Inc.