Maybe you can relate with Joanne. Joanne was doing some contract work but really wanted a full-time gig. While she was considering what to do about her job search, a miracle happened (or at least it seemed like one at the time). She had a “hot” job prospect come up without even having to do anything for it. A colleague of hers got her an introduction for a coveted permanent position at a coveted firm she had been eyeing.
It was magical. So magical, in fact, that Joanne waited for 3 months for something to happen, 1 month after the end of her latest contract and 3 months beyond any other type of job search effort. In other words, she let her current contract end without lining up another one and she stalled her job search until she “saw this opportunity through.”
In the small business world, we call this the “kiss of death” where that very nice-seeming “maybe” opportunity lulls us into a false sense of hope.
In Joanne’s defense, she did have good reason for this hope: She had a very strong referral that resulted in 1 informal phone interview and 2 face-to-face interviews during that 3-month period. Everyone sounded positive, and so Joanne had no reason to doubt that something would come through.
But no offer came.
So, she thought, “well, I can probably line up another short-term contract for a month or two and wait on this some more. After all, they said it might take them a bit.”
Then another two months go by, another contract ends, still no offer. After 5 months, Joanne is right back where she started.
Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common and typically ends with a lot of frustration on the part of the job seeker…and not without merit: It looked like this hot opportunity was going to come through.
A “maybe” is always, always a “no” until it isn’t.
If you’ve ever had any experience with sales or business development you learn this lesson pretty quickly. People say a lot of things, and they might even mean what they say, but until there’s a signed offer or a closed “deal,” unfortunately, it’s all just words.
You can be optimistic, hopeful even, but don’t be fooled.
No matter how great the opportunity or even opportunities, if you are committed to making a career move, then you need to keep your search going despite all the “maybe” options that are out there.
Also, if you do come across a hot opportunity like Joanne’s, don’t go at it with a mediocre approach.
Because Joanne had such a great referral, she thought that meant she didn’t need to put much into her overall branding strategy (resume, LI profile, etc.). In fact, she did very little with them thinking they already “knew” her and didn’t care about that stuff. In the end, though, that might have cost her a lot more, for despite the strong referral, the company hesitated and eventually failed to pull the trigger on hiring her. She didn’t understand that although her referral got her in front of one level of decision maker, it didn’t do much for those above (a common mistake candidates also make with the promotion process). She still needed to go in strong, especially on the second interview, but the false sense of hope she carried into this “maybe” made her believe that the second interview was just a formality.
Listen. The job search is a tough road. Sometimes we get lucky, and things move quickly and easily. Or maybe in the past it has always been pretty smooth sailing for us. But in today’s market, more often than not, we do have to persevere. Companies are more discerning buyers these days. They like referrals, and they do want to work with people they “know.” But even if you go in with all of that, it’s still not a done deal until the offer is in hand.
Besides, what kind of leverage do you have if you stall your job search to see this one through? You want to put yourself in the best position for negotiations, and you can’t do that when you put all your eggs in one basket.