I was mowed down by a job hunter holding an interview on her cell phone who, aimlessly wandering the aisles of the store, was oblivious to the rest of us hunting down ingredients for that evening’s supper. So distracted was she, she didn’t notice she knocked me over and that the apple I was examining had flown into the air and landed in a pile of kale.
Picking myself up from the floor I got to thinking. Not about how inconsiderate public cell phone talkers are. That would be, forgive the pun, fruitless. But about how much job hunters – and the gainfully but worried employed who are looking for a new job – miss by not paying attention to what is squarely in front of them.
Take for instance, this interaction a small-business owner had with a would-be employee. The man said he had approached the woman who works for another company that’s going through a tough time about a role at his company. “Would you be interested in talking to me about a position?” he asked her. Her response: “I’m open if the job is secure.”
What is she so blatantly missing? Let’s begin with the ripe opportunity most people would kill for just to talk to an employer who in these uncertain times, is eager to hire.
And how about the fact that right under her nose she’s got someone who obviously sees value in her (although now may be having second thoughts.) Even if she loves her present job and has no plans to leave until the business goes off the deep end, when someone reaches out to you like that, it’s a gift from career heaven. It’s a chance to make a new business acquaintance and become part of their bountiful network.
Third, and most amazing, she misses the chance to better understand what a flourishing business needs these days. Apparently, she didn’t get the memo that the job she has now is not secure and that unless you are a Supreme Court justice with life tenure, security does not exist anywhere.
She has overlooked the chance to simply talk to a business person to find out what’s happening in his business and where he needs help. And since one never knows what could happen, she has let the opportunity to consider her next possible step slip through her fingers.
On the other hand, take this enlightened professional who pays regular attention to what is in front of him – people who have helped him along the way. Jason, an assistant director in the movie industry, sent an e-mail this week to those folks:
“I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you. This month marks the four-year anniversary of my move from Cincinnati to Los Angeles. In that time, I have managed to transition from grip to assistant director. By no means am I rich or famous, but I have been fortunate enough to have some great opportunities in the business. And those opportunities have come from the knowledge that each of you imparted on me as I came up in the business … you all have been instrumental in helping me get to where I am.”
That probably took him five minutes to write and send. Yet the effort gained him oodles of good will, appreciation and career capital.
As for that preoccupied job hunter who ran me down, I would have been happy to offer a few interviewing tips – especially a smarter way to handle the salary question that she totally blew. If only she had been paying attention to what was in front of her.
Andrea Kay is the author of “Work’s a Bitch and Then You Make It Work: 6 Steps to Go From Pissed Off to Powerful.” Send questions to her at 2692 Madison Rd., (POUND)133, Cincinnati, OH 45208; www.andreakay.com or www.lifesabitchchangecareers.com. She can be e-mailed at: email@example.com.