Always Assume Positive Intent

You’ve been there.  You know what it’s like to interview for a position several times over the course of a few weeks.  The interviews seem to be going well.  Why else would they have you back time and again to talk to yet other person if the interviews weren’t going well?  At each stage of the interview process you find yourself inching up the food chain; first it was the recruiter you spoke to.  Then it was the hiring manager, then their boss, then their boss.  And just for good measure they have you talk to another high-level individual in the company for another perspective.

During the process you’re minding your P’s and Q’s, sending thank-you notes and asking questions about next steps.  You are doing what you should to stay on their radar.  But after that last interview, much to your dismay, the lines of communication have been cut off and you don’t know why.  You are not getting any feedback or responses of any kind.  That’s odd because all through the process they had been fairly quick to respond.  The fact you are not getting communication from them is uncharacteristic of the process to date.

So, it’s been several days since the last time they communicated with you.  Everything had been going very well.  You have every reason to believe you are (or were) a top candidate.  What do you do?  The short answer is: keep communicating with them.  You have no idea why you haven’t heard from them and you have no way of knowing what is going on on their side.  So until you hear otherwise, assume things are still on track and move forward accordingly.

People get sick.  Their kids get sick.  Decision makers go on vacation.  Offer-letter approvers are out for a few days.   Maybe the position hasn’t even been approved yet and they are frantically working to get the position approved in order to move forward.  I know it would be nice if they let you know that but they haven’t.

Until they tell you “no”, you are still in contention.  So send them a professional, polite note once a week.  And let them know that’s what you are going to do.  Let them know they will continue to hear from you until you hear from them.

I don’t know why we are wired the way we are.  Humans too easily gravitate to the negative.  “They didn’t like me after all.  I haven’t heard from them in so long. I know I didn’t get that job.”  We start to assume the worst, second guess and start spiraling.  I’m as guilty of that as the next person.

A great piece of advice I received from a former boss told me “always assume positive intent.”  Until you have reason to believe otherwise, believe in the positive.  Maybe they did go ahead and hire somebody and didn’t have the decency to let you know.  It happens.  Keep communicating with them and make them tell you no.

I once interviewed for a position where I was communicating with the hiring manager several times a week.  It was a position I really wanted.  Then all of a sudden, there was nothing.  It got to the point I put a note on my calendar a couple of weeks out to remind me to send one final email.  Three days before that reminder was to pop up and remind me I received a message from the hiring manager.  She asked if I was still interested.

I was certain the position went to another candidate and they didn’t have the decency to let me know after all the time I invested in the process.  But it only proves my point you never know what’s going on on their end.  There are all kinds of stumbling blocks that can get in the way.  When I finally connected with the hiring manager she offered me the position.  Her reasoning for the delay made sense but it would have been nice if she sent a quick email at any point along the way to let me know.  It wouldn’t take much.  But if I hadn’t stayed positive in the emails I kept sending her, if my weekly emails had grown more testy and snarky, I have no doubt they would have moved on to another candidate.  That’s why you should always remain positive.

And I might add this; as a recruiter, I don’t do this and never have, but I am convinced some companies go silent on purpose.  They are gauging your interest level and evaluating how you handle it.  So handle it professionally and always assume positive intent.

Happy hunting

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Is your job search going mobile? It should.

Here are some quick stats to get you thinking about one way you should approach your job search.

  • 1 in 5 of all job searches are now made via mobile (Google)
  • 30% of company traffic is now coming from a mobile device (WRC)
  • 63% of passive candidates used mobile to search for their next role (Educate)
  • 90% of smart phone users use mobile to read emails and search the web (ALP)
  • 61% of users will go to a competitor site if you do not have a mobile site (Forbes)

In my life there have been two distinct job-search worlds; one when I graduated from college, the other just recently.

Here’s what my job-search world looked like when I graduated from college:

I graduated in May of 1995.  The next month I got married.  At that point, we certainly had no money and only an idea of what we wanted our future to look like.  Obviously, the first priority was finding me a job.  It seemed only fair.  At that point, my wife had two.  Actually, I was working a retail position.  But it was time to find that ever elusive “career” track.

Back then I read the want-ads in the Sunday paper and circled the best possibilities.  Because we did not have a home computer or printer I would find some time during the week to go over to my father-in-law’s office and use his.  I would update my resume and write a cover letter, print it out and put it in the mail.  So after reading an ad on Sunday I would be lucky to have my resume/cover letter in the mail by Wednesday or Thursday.  Talk about lag time.  Obviously, it was not the quickest or most efficient system.  But I had to use the resources available to me the best way I knew how.

Contrast that to what my job-search world looked like when I was searching for a new position just a few months ago:

This time, no want ads.  It would have been difficult to do that since I haven’t had a subscription to the paper in several years anyway.

I did lean on all the other avenues available to me, however.  The most valuable was my network.  I have spent the intervening 15+ plus years since my post-college job search building it and I knew it would be a powerful tool.

I also created several job-search agents on various job boards that met specific criteria I entered.  The various systems would then email me the daily results.  By the time I woke up every morning, I would have anywhere from a handful to several dozen opportunities waiting for me in my inbox.  Even before my feet hit the floor in the morning, I could respond to any particular opportunity I chose by submitting my resume which was stored on my smart phone.  I use the Galaxy S II and am a huge fan.

I had several versions of my resume to reflect various aspects of my career.  I could choose which one to send based on the details of the opportunity.  If a particular opportunity required me to make additional changes to my resume I would get on my laptop, make the changes and store the new version on my phone as well.

If a lead came through that looked really exciting I would get on Linked In and see if anyone in my network worked at that particular company.  I would then reach out to them and ask for their help in networking with the right people at the target company.

The best example I can think of to illustrate how things have changed in my two job-search worlds is this story:

I was meeting a member of my network for lunch.  I got there early and as I was a waiting, another member of my network who happened to be located in Pennsylvania had forwarded me a really good job lead.  I looked through the details, composed an email/cover letter and sent it off with the appropriate version of my resume.  By the time my lunch was over I had already received a response from the recruiter.

It’s fascinating to me how things have changed.  Years ago, looking through the paper it took days to respond. Today, anyone can receive and respond to opportunities in real-time all thanks to advances in technology, their network and their smart phone.  Did I mention I love my Galaxy S II?

If you don’t use your mobile device for your job search, you are missing out on a lot of opportunities.  The ability to respond to opportunities in a timely manner is essential.  Don’t miss out.