On the Job Hunt, There Are No Guarantees

Our dog, Graham, howling for a treatOur coonhound, Graham, has been with us for two months now, and we are discovering that he has quite the personality. He is headstrong and is particularly vocal when he feels he deserves something (usually food-related).

Graham is an explorer; he found our garage to be a particularly fun place with all sorts of interesting smells. Unfortunately, we have to go through the garage to get to the door where we let him out. Wasting time with him sniffing about is not usually part of the plan, so we started to give him a treat every time he would come straight into the house from the garage when we let him in. All I have to say to him now is, “In the house!” and he gallops right in. Because he knows what to expect when he makes the right choice, he will starting baying as if to say, “I did it! Give me my treat!”

Sometimes, job seekers may feel a similar justification in their expectations when they are doing everything right. They have a résumé with significant accomplishments highlighted, attend networking events and make solid connections, and prepare for and nail their interviews.

“I did it! I should get the job!” Right?

Well, not always. That realization that you can do everything right and still come up empty-handed can be very demoralizing.

I remember one interview I went on when I was finishing up my MBA that was perfect in every way. I had a very warm and easy connection with the interviewer. The time flew by as we talked about the position, their needs, and how I would fit into that role. Toward the end of the interview, we went on a tour of the building and, as we were passing the office spaces, the interviewer pointed in one room and said, “And this is where your office would be.”

*My* office? She was talking like I was already part of the team! I was floating on the way home. Once home, I dashed off my thank you letter and then waited.

The call came a few days later. They offered the position to someone else.

I felt like a bucket of ice-cold water had been dumped on me. How could that happen? The interview had gone so well! And she had shown me my office…

I could tell by the tone in the interviewer’s voice that she was sorry to have to break this news to me. She said that I was a strong candidate, but that another applicant was just a little bit better fit. I had missed the job by the narrowest of margins.

Really, there was nothing I could have done differently or better in that situation. I just had the misfortune of being up against a slightly better competitor.

Keeping this reality in mind during the job hunt is important for a couple of reasons:

  1. You stay in the game until you have a job offer in writing. Just because you had a good interview doesn’t mean you should stop all other aspects of your job search. Even if the phone interview you had propels you to the second round of interviewing, you need to keep looking. You still are being judged against other candidates, and you have no way of knowing if you are going to come out on top.
  2. You maintain the proper perspective. It’s hard to not take it personally when being told, “Thanks for your time, but we went with someone else.” It can be especially difficult when it has gone well and you are envisioning yourself working there, having those co-workers, and living in that community. The dream you had built up in your mind has been snatched from you. But that’s the thing — it was just a dream. Don’t get yourself too emotionally attached to something until you have received an offer and know that it will be a part of your reality.

How do you keep the proper focus during the job search?

Does this article resonate with you? Let’s work together for you and your career!

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