Success for your job search doesn’t always occur in ways we expect. I didn’t think I’d hear from “Dan” again. I certainly didn’t expect to hear from him with a smile in his voice and a success story to share related to his job search.
Autumn, 2017: first contacts
I met Dan through a Regional Sales Manager search in September. He was one of more than 400 individuals who had applied for this specialized opportunity for an employer in the Chicago area.
In our email exchanges and phone conversations, I was impressed with Dan’s sales approach, his aptitude for learning the technical products, and his willingness to research to be well-prepared for the next step. He was one of 20 individuals whose resumes I forwarded to this client employer.
By late October, the president of the company had reviewed those 20 resumes. He contacted 10 people for phone interviews. Dan was one of those ten. He impressed the company president with his persuasive conversational style, as well as his preparation. He didn’t have experience in exactly their business sector, but he established that his network of contacts could open new business channels for them.
By mid November, the company had chosen four of the 10 remaining candidates for in-person interviews. Dan was one of those four! Knowing Dan, I was pretty sure he could “nail” this face-to-face meeting. And of course he did! He used the best of his sales skills to showcase his preparation, his responsiveness, and his ability to answer objections in the interviewing process itself.
Autumn, 2017: patient perseverance
In early December, it was down to two strong candidates for this Regional Sales Manager position: Dan and one other person. The hiring employer asked each of these prospective employees to prepare and present a brief communication on how they would approach their first few months of training, networking, and learning if hired for this position. Dan embraced this challenge with his usual thoroughness. Once again, he aced it.
I knew from conversations with the company president that the other individual hadn’t prepared well for the final step. And that had closed the door for him. So there was every reason to expect that Dan would have an offer by the end of December and a new job as of the beginning of January.
Year end, 2017: one door closes
Dan had done everything well throughout the interview process. So he was stunned and I was stunned when the year ended with the company saying that they had hired someone else.
The company didn’t explain why Dan didn’t receive an offer of employment. They just affirmed that he was an exceptionally strong candidate. Then they conveyed that they would gladly keep him in mind for any future leads.
We talked at length about whether and how Dan should respond. It felt for him as if the door had been slammed in his face, despite their assurances that they would keep him in mind for future staffing needs.
Dan thought seriously about not responding at all – and I don’t blame him. After four months of dedication to the hiring process, he was grieving for what we both thought would be his next great job. But Dan’s a sales guy at heart who never voluntarily closes or locks a “door” of opportunity for business.
So he sent a gracious email response to the company president, thanking him for the privilege of the interview process and confirming that he might be open to talking about a future position.
Winter, 2018: another door opens for job search success
Dan and I didn’t have occasion to talk in January or February. We were both busy working on other leads and our professional paths just didn’t cross during those months.
So I was delighted when Dan called in March. Delighted, and then stunned again. The client employer had called him back.
At the end of December, when they were preparing to make an offer to Dan, they had a last-minute referral of a sales manager in the industry from one of their vendors. It seemed to be an ideal fit because the person had experience and contacts in the industry, as well as the recommendation of a vendor. So that’s why someone else was hired.
The referred person started the job in January and seemed to be doing well. In February, the person traveled with the company president to a trade show, making connections with their business contacts. Again, it seemed to be going well.
And then the unexpected happened. The new sales manager had an emergency in his personal and family life. He decided he could no longer commit to the travel and long hours of a regional sales manager position like this one. So he resigned, effective immediately.
And that’s where this portal of opportunity reopened for Dan. He had responded graciously when he didn’t receive the offer he expected and stayed open to new possibilities. His behavior reopened the door: the company contacted him right away after the other person resigned. They restarted the conversation with him and fully explained what had happened in December, January, and February. Their forthrightness helped to heal his disappointment. They negotiated the terms. And he was successfully hired, starting his new job with them in March. He called me to celebrate.
What a great example from Dan of finding ways that each step of the hiring process could open doors for a successful job search, even when it seemed that the door had been closed and locked!
by Elyse Williamson