Applying for a new job? What’s the worst that can happen?
Getting a flat and irreversible rejection is bad, yes, but what’s even worse is the waiting. It may only be a matter of days, or weeks, or, in your case, minutes, but it’s long enough to leave you twisting in the wind, wondering if you’ve gotten the job or not.
What makes the wait so painful is not the thought that you’ll get turned down — that’s happened a million times. What hurts is the thought that you’ll actually get the gig.
You see it so clearly. The telephone rings, and you get the great news. You immediately march into your boss’s office and unleash a long list of gripes you’ve collected and slights you’ve endured. You feel the envy of your soon-to-be-former workmates as they watch you pack your Hummels and head out the door where you find the brand-new Tesla your brand-new employer has leased for you as part of a whopping package of perks and bennies. Smiling inscrutably, you slip in the newest Jacob Sartorius CD and drive off into the sunset.
Or, the telephone doesn’t ring. You’ve been rejected again and the only riding into the sunset you’ll be doing is in your broken-down Ford Pinto, just hoping that, before the sun rises on your next day at work, it will burst into flames.
Managing the long wait is the subject of “What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Do When You’re Waiting to Hear Back About a Job,” a recent Sara McCord article from themuse.com.
The first thing you definitely shouldn’t do is pepper the interviewer with a constant stream of emails. “As with most relationships,” McCord writes, “looking interested is good, but looking too interested makes you less desirable.”
It’s difficult to imagine that a job candidate could look less desirable than you, but McCord does have a point. Fortunately, there is nothing classier than a muffin basket delivered to the hiring manager’s desk each morning until you are eventually hired or served with a restraining order. Remember to include handwritten cards. “You’ll be muffin’ this job search if you don’t hire me,” is the kind of totally witty sentiment that is sure to impress.
If you think a muffin basket is too impersonal, I recommend implementing a surprise pop-in. Use your charm to bamboozle yourself past the security guards. (Walking in backwards and saying, “see you later,” is a technique that never fails.) Once inside, grab an empty desk, and wait for your future manager to see how well you fit in. Either that will happen, or you’ll be pelted with stale muffins and hauled away by security guards.
If you don’t feel comfortable showing up at the hiring manager’s workplace, show up at their home. Knock on the door and suggest what a great idea it would be to continue your interview over a gluten-free vegan dinner, which the hiring manager could prepare.
Show your flexibility by assuring the hiring manager that lobster is acceptable, as long as it’s organic.
“Do respond in a timely fashion” is another of author McCord’s rules. If you are offered the job, don’t embarrass yourself by accepting immediately. You don’t want to appear to be as desperate as you really are. While the author suggests a 24-hour waiting period, I recommend 24 days. At that point, you can explain that you have so many offers, you’re carefully mulling the pros and cons of each one.
Handle this correctly and the hiring manager will soon be sending a muffin basket to you.
If the worst happens and you never do hear from the hiring manager, McCord suggests you “do move on graciously.” In other words, no graffiti scrawled on the hiring manager’s parking place and no holding your breath until you turn red. It is possible that the hiring process is just taking longer and you’re still in the running. It’s also possible that a Martian nabbed the job with its ability to keyboard with six hands.
It is OK, according to McCord, to follow-up after one or two weeks with a calm email that explains your continued interest in the position. Point out that the possibility of not getting the job has nothing to do with your decision to quit your job, abandon your family, and live out the rest of your days as a Mary Kay salesperson in Tristan da Cunha.
“Don’t drive yourself crazy” is the final piece of advice.
Uh-oh! Too late!
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.