The Danger Of Banking On One Opportunity

October 21st, 2008
Keep your pipeline FULL!

Keep your pipeline FULL!

This is a long story, so I’m not going to write anything more than THIS IS NOT MY STORY. I kind of had this happen to me, but this particular story is from a JibberJobber user, and reader of this blog. If you area job seeker this story will make you sad and mad at the same time.

Jason, I’ve just had an experience which you may want to share with your readers in a blog post. Perhaps others can learn from it.

As you know, it’s been tough to find my next position as my work spans over multiple departments. Last year I went through an interview process for a position that had a job description that seemed perfectly suited to me. I had several interviews over a few months. In addition, someone who worked at the organization worked with me previously at my current organization and had supposedly put in a good word for me. At the end, I came in #2 to another candidate.

This summer, I saw the person who I used to work with in the park near my office, only to find out that the person they hired hadn’t worked out and they would be soon looking for a replacement. He added ‘they should have hired you.’ I followed up with an email to the organization executive director to keep my connection open but not mentioning my conversation.

A few months later, I was contacted by the organization and the interview process started again. I met three times with practically the entire executive staff, which seemed very promising. I also joined the organization’s email lists and made sure that I prepared well for every conversation, tracking my interactions in JibberJobber.

Suddenly about a month ago the process stopped. I followed up with an email to the executive director, and received a response that he would call me the next day. The next day came and went – no response. Three weeks later, I followed up with another email and received a response that he wanted to call me but ‘didn’t have my phone number.’ This seemed a bit strange, but I sent back my full contact information and we arranged to chat the next day.

After an exchange of voice mails, I finally spoke to him yesterday. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting a positive experience, but the conversation was very discouraging. He started off by saying that the recent financial crisis had made them ‘re-evaluate’ whether or not to fill this position. While I could understand the concern, the role of this spot in maintaining all of the organization’s online communications seemed a bit too important to discontinue in the face of the recent stock market fluctuations.

He then continued to say that even if they decide to go forward, they probably would not continue with my candidacy, even though I had been given more interviews than most others who had applied for the position. This still seemed a bit hard to understand, so I asked whether there was some part of my qualifications that didn’t match the position. I was told that they were now looking for a ‘different’ set of skill sets, but that he hoped I had benefited from the experience.

Needless to say, the conversation left me angry and frustrated about having devoted so much resources to an organization that clearly doesn’t have its act together. On the positive side, I was grateful that I didn’t end up working there for someone who didn’t even have the decency to probably wouldn’t have given me any type of update had I not followed up several times.

The lesson? While it’s useful to focus on opportunities that seem to be especially the right fit, it’s dangerous to spend too much time concentrating on one possibility. I received several signs that this would at least result in an offer, and twice I was burned. Now having had my job hunt go on for two years, I’m wondering what it takes to move to the final stage. One thing I’m planning to do is to do some mock interviews with my career coach to hopefully find out if there’s anything I can do to improve my presentation.

Please keep my name anonymous but please emphasize to your audience the importance of having multiple possibilities going at all times and to be aware of any warning signs during the interview process that an organization may be dysfunctional and is NOT a good place to work, even if the job sounds perfect.

I’ll just repeat one line:

“While it’s useful to focus on opportunities that seem to be especially the right fit, it’s dangerous to spend too much time concentrating on one possibility.”  Keep that pipeline full!

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One Response to “The Danger Of Banking On One Opportunity”

  1. A Non Mouse says:

    You are not alone… I have only been through this Slog for 5 months… but I have come up 2nd +10 times… some of them after 3 phone screens and 2 rounds of panel interviews.

    I have been on the other side and had to hire large groups of people for projects with Tight Timelines and Picky Team Fit…. but I have never let someone twist in the wind for more than a week… and I have always touched base with the recruiters on my timeline for each round and number of people who moved forward.

    I ‘get’ co-employment and lawsuits and how little people can pass on to consultants that don’t transition to full time… or even strangers who invest 10 hours in conversations.

    But where will we be as a country if this economy continues to slide… and each search takes months… and employers become more selective.

    What would have happened in the depression if these hiring standards were in place… at least there were manual jobs to fill the gap… what will fill the gap now?

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