Here are a couple of emails I’ve received from folks wanting to know how to handle an issue in their job search, along with my responses:
Could I ask your advice regarding job searching I’m doing? I submitted an application for a dream position with a leader in my organization, Ms. Harris. I don’t know her very well, but she has a wonderful reputation, and my mentor, Marta, worked for her and is serving as a reference for me. The job posting closed 3 weeks ago. I emailed the contact on the posting to politely ask if a search committee timeline could be shared, but received no response. I wasn’t too surprised, as that person does not have the best reputation for responding.
My current position has become very unhealthy for me (not sleeping, hating work that I used to love under old leadership, etc). I was thinking about emailing that leader directly with a very brief and polite intro of myself, with the question of whether or not she could provide any insight into a timeline. Do you think this is a smart thing to do, or should I just try to hang back?
Signed, Debbie Dilemma
You should definitely try to make contact. Since you have the connection with the leader through your mentor, the best possible contact you could make would begin with “Ms. Harris, Marta suggested I contact you directly.” Of course, you should only do that if Marta does so. Is that something you could ask Marta about?
Short of that, its still fine to reach out to Ms. Harris directly, or if she has an assistant who is not the unresponsive person you were talking about earlier. I wonder, too, if you could just drop by her office? A phone call is fine too. I’m not suggesting you do all three of course, just one is good, and personal contact is generally more effective than email.
Hi, Amy. could give me your two cents?
I’m thinking about applying for an job in my field, after a couple of decades focused on family and volunteering. I think it might give me a way to get a foot back in the field, but it’s so far away.
I’m not sure I want full-time & I know I’m not excited about a hour commute each way, so still I’m toying with the idea of applying. Should I?
Signed, Cathy Compromise
It’s a great question. Deciding whether or not to actually apply for any job deserves some mindful consideration. Is it the kind of job you want to do? Is the organization one that aligns with your values? Are you qualified? Do you want the commute? Can you see yourself doing the work? All of these questions are an important part of the decision process.
I always work with my clients to help them identify what kind of job they really want to do. This is important because it’s often the most important difference between engagement and disengagement on the job. It sounds like you know what kind of work you most want to do, and this job fits that criterion. The other questions can be answered as you go through the rest of the process, and in fact you may not be able to answer them all before you apply.
A few years ago when I was in dire straits wanting/needing employment, an opportunity fell in my lap to do work I knew I would love, but it would require 75% travel. I considered the travel idea to be a dealbreaker, but I also knew I needed the experience with interviewing and negotiating, so I decided to engage in the process and see how far I could take it. To my surprise, the process actually sold me on the job, and I wound up deciding that the travel was worth it (and would bring benefits I had not previously considered). I kept the job for nearly four years and am so grateful I did it.
That being said, I also interviewed once for a job I thought I might want. It would require a move (or four hours of driving for the daily commute), but again I wanted the experience with interviewing, so I went. I was amazed by what I learned about the company and the team I might be working with. My sense that it was a poor fit was so strong that I pulled myself out of the running when I sent my note thanking them for the opportunity and the time they took to interview me. The commute wasn’t even an important factor.
The bottom line is this: you don’t have enough information at the start of the application process to know for certain that you do or don’t want the job. Plus, there’s so much in the application process that is not in your control. You have much better chances of success if you keep the doors open for yourself as much as you can, and close a door only when the voice of your inner wisdom tells you to.
If you’re puzzled about how to handle something that has come up in your job search or career development, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I may not be able to respond to everyone but will do the best I can. And your email may be chosen to be answered in a future blog post!
Amy Kay Watson coaches talented, brilliant, tender-hearted professionals to discover their destiny, own their power, and live their purpose with courage, humor, and compassion–even in a corporate environment. To learn more, go to CareerLeadershipAlignment.com.