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Fix It Or Forget It?

August 10th, 2011

Networking outside the office often leads to finding your next job, but it’s also important to remember to be on your best behavior with those in your current situation as well.  How you conduct yourself ends up defining your professional brand.

Noah* decided to leave his organization mostly because of a bad breakup with someone at work he had once dated.  When they quit dating, she became openly hostile toward him and it made working difficult.  He used to enjoy socializing with other coworkers, but found himself opting out of gatherings more frequently, for fear she would be attending, and harsh words would exchange between them.

“I tried to avoid her as much as possible and not allow her to push my buttons,” Noah recounts, “But I can’t say that it always worked.  There were days that I’d dread going to work, if I thought I would see her that day, so I knew it was time to look for another job.”

What Noah didn’t realize was that he was viewed as contributing toward the negative environment whenever he participated in these spats, but it became painfully obvious to him several months later.

After searching for quite some time, Noah had gotten a promising interview and then a second one.  After they both went well, he was told he was one of just a few finalists who would be called back for the final round, to meet with various department heads – people that this position would be working with on a regular basis.

During this final round of meetings, Noah was surprised to see that one of the interviewers used to be at his current company.

“I could tell by the Forget It! look on her face – from the moment I walked into her office,” Noah said, “That she considered me unprofessional, due to the drama and saga from my very public dating and break up that happened in the workplace.  Although I did my very, very best to interview professionally, I don’t think she will ever see me as a professional again.  It was a real wake-up call!”

Of course, Noah couldn’t confirm it, but he suspects that this contributed greatly to his not getting the job.

Whether or not he has future interviews with former colleagues, Noah has been working diligently at his current place of employment to improve his image prior to his departure.  He now sees how important it is to build and protect the “Noah brand.”

“It didn’t really matter at that interview if she ‘started it’ or was more immature, etc.” Noah realized.  “I could see that I didn’t need to have participated at a childish level, regardless of how anyone else behaved.”

Odelia* was surprised at how important an impression can be as well, while she was interviewing.  She had been on what seemed like dozens and dozens of interviews in the last year, and although several of them had asked her back a second – or even third – time, she still hadn’t gotten any offers.

She couldn’t seem to figure out how to get beyond being a candidate and getting complimented to getting the offer, but realized that the market is difficult, as well as the competition . . .

I counseled her to consider interviews as practice, if it helped: preparing her for that job that would be coming up – sooner, we hoped, rather than later.

One day she got a call, asking her to come in for an interview for XYZ Organization for a position very similar to one she currently held, but at a slightly higher level and a bit more money.  Odelia was interested and couldn’t remember the details at first.

While speaking with the director, she was trying to pull her files and reacquaint herself with the position, but she couldn’t find it.  Finally, she confessed that she didn’t remember the position and asked when it was posted, for a reference point in locating the file.

The director told her that this position hadn’t been posted.  Instead, he had called directors who worked in a similar type of institution in their city and asked each of them if they had recently interviewed any promising candidates who were good, but perhaps didn’t get the job offer.  This is how he had gotten her name and resume!

Odelia was flabbergasted – yet pleasantly surprised – that someone who hadn’t selected her for a position thought enough of her to recommend her to a different hiring manager.  Since she consciously made an effort always to put her best foot forward during interviews, a “surprise reference” was able to Fix It! for her, and she ended up getting a job that she’d never even applied for!

In both Noah’s and Odelia’s cases, their interview situations ended up being affected by people that they weren’t expecting – and in ways they didn’t anticipate.  Consider carefully how you portray yourself with the various people you interact with on a daily basis.  If they were to be questioned, how would they describe you?  Do you think they’d recommend you as someone worth hiring for your next job?

Do you have a Fix It Or Forget It? story to share?  Send it to me, and it might help others.  Identifying features will be altered prior to publishing.

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Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—  Rita Mae Brown

Similar Posts:

Shelby* and Tisha* learned how to ask better interview questions

Yvonne* and Zachary* realized that even with preparation, problems arise during interviews

Arlene* and Burt* examine how and when to stand out during an interview

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