If you’re job-hunting what can you learn from the 2010 Election Results?
1. Outsiders are in!
If you were an incumbent, and especially if you were in power, you had to fight off attacks from people outside the Washington establishment. What does this mean for you if you are searching for work? Stressing the positives of being different work. If a company is struggling and it feels like the old way is not working it might be a great time to talk about how you can bring in fresh ideas. For example, an applicant for a web developer job showed the employer five ways they could improve their dated company website. That helped him get the job.
2. Votes count!
The people spoke and voted what they thought – not just the candidates’ supporters but also the undecided and those in the opposite party. In an interview it’s exactly the same. The interviewer is voting for you but so are the interviewer’s team and even people not on their team. Don’t think you can take any votes for granted or that they will all be positive? The receptionist you got upset with, the guy you blew off in the parking lot, or the women carrying the stack of papers you didn’t help in the elevator all have a vote and you may have lost them! I interviewed someone once who said, “I don’t like to talk badly about anyone” and then proceeded to complain about her former boss. The boss happened to be known and respected by three of the four panel interviewers.
3. Negative is not positive!
Most voters didn’t like the negative ads in this election and it is unclear if they helped in many of the races. So don’t badmouth your ex-company, your old boss, or former colleagues. It usually makes you look bad. But also realize that there may be negatives about you that are being repeated. You need to know that although most people didn’t like negativity, some of it may stick, especially if it was true. So if you have a criminal record, bad credit, or a career gaps make sure the employer knows what happened and how you have changed. During a recent interview a coaching client of mine told the employer about some rough times she had gone through which had meant that she had lost her home. The employer respected her honesty and moved her forward in the hiring process.
4. Is there going to be a recount?
Just as some elections are delayed by recounts, so are some job hires. It can be tough to get all the opinions in from a panel interview; references take time to gather; and getting background and credit checks can delay the process. Remember that just because the hiring manager says he wants to hire you it doesn’t mean that the job will start the next day. Also be prepared for something coming up that stops you getting the job whether it’s a bad reference or a different opinion from a senior person. A coaching client was offered a job but before they got offered it the senior person was replaced and the job position was put on hold until the new big cheese got into place.
5. It’s all based on your record
Many politicians found themselves defending their records. When you are interviewing you need to be able to sell your record or explain the challenges in your career. If you don’t stress positives that the employer cares about they may be voting you out! I worked with a jerk once. A senior manager in a consulting company, he was very talented, innovative and visionary. But he was not a nice guy. One time we were putting a seminar together for about 1000 people. He came into the main hall after the chairs had all been set up and didn’t like the layout. He told the staff to move all 1000 chairs into a different format without even apologizing. When a downturn came along, he was one of the first people to go, and nobody reached out to help him.
Whether you are commiserating or celebrating about the elections also look at it as a lesson in how you can more effectively find a job.
Good luck and remember every vote counts!