Last week was a tough week for me. Looking back, the couple of drafts I started were kinda negative, if not downright delete-able.
Maybe I can salvage one of the two…I really should have started my own business a couple years back at the urging of my friends during the 2.0 version of TGJH.
Anyway, the prior week, I’d participated in various stages of the interview process for four different jobs and expected to hear back on job offers from two by week’s end that week or Tuesday of last week at the latest.
Following along? Maybe I should just use dates…
Without making you read all the way to the end – I know you’re busy! – I came away from the experience fairly depressed and musing about the value of a Silver Medal.
$320 is the scrap value of a Silver Medal.
I wonder if implementing a runner up prize for job searchers would change how employers conduct themselves during candidate searches.
Especially if you employed an incentive for applicants similar to the US Olympic Committee’s incentive for its athletes. The USOC provides cash prizes to its medalists. In this case, a Gold Medal’s prize of $45000 would be replaced with a salary.
But I would imagine the Silver Medal incentive of $22500 would change the way I felt about learning I was just a figurative heartbeat away from a job offer.
Ok, if you’re busy – it’s Monday – go! That’s the meat of it.
If you’re up for grisly details…read on!
If you’ve been following The Great Job Hunt, you’ll know the scenario of a really bad interview experience from a few weeks back. Basically, receiving a text 10+ minutes after my appointed interview time telling me whereabouts she was sitting.
The Where’s Waldo Interview.
And it pretty much got worse from there. I left feeling both like there wasn’t a shot in hell of a callback and relieved that I wouldn’t be working with this person.
I got a callback.
The call actually came as I was a quarter into a 10 mile hike. They wanted to meet me at a hotel by the airport in an hour. I explained my situational location and the guy replies with, “How about two hours, then? A half hour to get home, then shower and then an hour to get here?”
Plenty of time.
Apparently, this job I didn’t want really wanted to meet with me.
I made it with 5 minutes to spare. After something that could scarcely be described as a step up from an Hobo’s Shower and stealing the Silver Fox’s car…MAX was not going to cut it. So you can appreciate the epic-ness of the sitch, I was leaving downtown Portland to get to a 5 o’clock appointment.
I met with the Vice President of the company and his national customer service manager for about an hour and 15 minutes.
The stress seemed to be placed most on being able to run an outfit on the opposite side of the country from the main office. I’d be the only salaried manager at this location, supervising four junior managers and 75-100 employees across four different jobs.
These guys had flown out to do a job fair to fill the hourly positions. This was the end of day two.
It wasn’t going well.
I was not surprised.
But, given the scope of the work and the geographic situation, the VP stressed heavily that he needed to be able to trust the selected candidate to let him sleep at night. He really hit that hard and each time he came back to it, I felt like I nailed it. I even shared with him why trust in a work relationship was so important to me.
First, because it’s a relationship and there should at least be trust.
Second, my last job.
When it came right down to it, their big hurdle with me was that my salary expectations were $2k over their high end of the range.
I met this with a neutral, “You called me” attitude.
When I probed about benefits to see if there was any wiggle room in my position, I learned the company didn’t provide a 401k, which actually made it worse, since I’d be giving up employer matching and a tax break on my retirement savings.
Nonetheless, I came away from this interview wanting the job. I really liked my conversation with these two.
The VP told me that they’d be making an offer the next day – Thursday – before leaving town and that having made it this far in the interview process I would definitely hear from them one way or another.
That’s a sense of urgency that I can appreciate. However, as a hiring manager, I’ve learned to only ever – ever – say that to the candidate I know I’m either hiring or absolutely not hiring. Any candidates in the middle…well, if your first choice doesn’t accept right away, you’ll need a back up, right?
What stressed me slightly about potentially getting their job offer on Thursday was that the Port job I’d had my final interview with the day before wouldn’t be job offering until Monday or Tuesday of the next week.
More on that below, but I would have felt better getting word from these guys on Friday and being able to “take the weekend to decide” to see what happened with the Port job.
Thursday comes and goes, and I think maybe I’m getting my wish. Still, I flash back to how intently the veep had hit on trust, reliability and integrity during our talk. Hopefully, this wouldn’t be another situation where standards only went one way.
And I’m back to not wanting the job.
Monday at 3:30 I finally get a call from the customer service guy.
From a Vancouver number, not the Florida cell he’d called from before. He’d left town and was back, they’d been staying at a Portland hotel the week before, which would have a different area code than this one.
I’m quite a sleuth.
He was sorry to not call me last week, he’d gone home and been sick.
Terrible excuse since I’d assume me going incommunicado as an employee would be…frowned upon.
They’d offered the job to someone else.
Sure, from where I was sitting at this point, that was absolutely fine…but I was hard pressed to imagine their alternate candidate was better suited to this than I versus simply more in budget.
My eyes were really on the Port job. It was well below my salary expectations, but I’d figured out my floor and was ready to negotiate. With my airport and retail experience, I felt hard to beat. Plus, I knew I was one of two finalists, so I was pretty damned confident my big problem wasn’t getting the offer but more compensating for a $15k annual shortfall in my personal budget.
I got the call on Tuesday morning while at coffee with The Fox. I stepped outside for ten minutes to take the call. When I walked back in and sat down, I raised my hand for a high five and said, “Guess who got a job?!?”
“Alright!!!”, he exclaims as he returns my high five and I say, “THE OTHER GUY!”
See, what I hadn’t counted on was the dreaded internal candidate.
This interview had been a five on one round table: the HR manager, my would-be peer, my direct supervisor and then two would-be higher level peers.
Or should I call them would-not-be peers?
My would-not-be boss was someone I knew professionally from two different jobs, including my last. He was super excited about me as a candidate because of what he knew of my capabilities and what I could contribute. Most of which was also outside of the scope of this position’s job description.
This also reinforced why I wasn’t the best fit for this job: flight risk.
Not inasmuch as it would mean quitting – and that’s a reality in this job given the 5 AM start time – but rather, promotability. I knew the requirement was to serve a year in this position before being considered for other jobs and was ready to accept that reality. I also knew that Port jobs are notoriously rare and was ready to spend more time in this role.
I had a plan to offset the income differential!
However, they were really looking for someone where this job was an even longer term fit. The HR manager even went so far as to say she saw me as a replacement for either of those wouldn’t-be-higher-level peer jobs. A nice compliment…I even suspected my wouldn’t-be boss was eyeballing me as bench strength for what I assume must be his imminent retirement, I’ve known him for 15 years and he wasn’t super young then!
Plus, of the two wouldn’t-be peer positions she was talking about me being a good fit for, one was probably five years from retirement himself and the other was earning a good reputation as a flake. Both would be bad candidates for my wouldn’t-be boss’ job.
But she encouraged me to keep an eye out for jobs with them and told me that they all come through her, which gave me hope. She also took some time to talk me through interpreting posted requirements so that I didn’t disqualify myself from any potential opportunities. That was really nice.
Nonetheless, I spent much of the rest of the week wallowing in my disappointment.
But, after a week of support from my friends and family – culminating yesterday with Mom-donna tickling my chin whiskers and telling me to keep my chin up – I’m ready to dive back into the job search.