Job Talk: A cruelly lingering job offer
Dear J.T. & Dale: I had an interview for a truck-parts sales job. I met with three managers, and they agreed that they could use me for several positions, and discussed where I would fit best. They said they would get back to me with an offer. After two weeks, I have called two of the three, and was told that the plan was still in the works. I don't want to be too pushy, but I cannot understand what went wrong. How can I tell if this company was sincere or not? — Joseph
DALE: Lately we've been getting a lot of these questions. Does that mean there's a sudden rise in the cruel teasing of applicants? No. There is, in general, a continuing squeeze on managers' time, and you don't hire new people unless you're already understaffed.
J.T.: In a job-seeker's world, a day feels like a month; in a hiring manager's world, a day feels like a minute. Hiring is not their priority — doing their current jobs is the priority. As a result, the hiring process often stalls.
DALE: A good name for these economic times is "The Questionable Economy." Because companies are unsure if the business will grow or slide back as we hit a new recession, their optimism waxes and wanes. They think they need a new person, and then they have a bad month, and ... well, now they aren't sure. So here's the rule of thumb: When a company says it is "definitely" going to hire you, it means 50-50. If it says anything short of "definitely" — including "It looks promising," "We just have to get our ducks in a row" or "We just have to figure out the best spot for you" — then you know your odds are less than 50-50. That's why you never stop looking.
J.T.: Keep pursuing other possibilities, but don't give up on this one. I would wait one business week between contacts. You can email them all a quick note touching base, perhaps adding an article they might find useful. I know waiting is terrible, but stick with it. This is a sales deal you want to close.
DALE: Yes, this is a sales job you're after, and no one wants to hire a laid-back, just-chill salesperson. So don't worry about being too pushy; worry about not being pushy enough.
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Dear J.T. & DALE: I am a recent graduate of the University of Utah. After graduation, I moved from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas. I am trying to get a job here, but even though I'm applying for entry-level jobs, like bank teller or airport ticketing, when answering the questionnaires, I feel like I am required to have a lot more work experience. I had only three short-term, part-time jobs while in college. — Ann
DALE: Part of your problem is that you moved from a state with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country to the state with the highest unemployment rate. So you might consider moving back temporarily to build up some experience. If that's not an option, you need to change your approach. Entry-level jobs that require no experience are the easiest ones to fill, and thus are the most likely to be filled by friends and relatives of people already working there. You need to find a way to slide into that group. The best way to start is by joining the alumni association of your university. You're likely to find people eager to help a fellow Ute get started.
J.T.: Yes, you need to network your way into interviews. Then, when experience comes up and you haven't worked in a particular type of job, substitute life experiences. Maybe you volunteered while in school, or worked on class projects. Here's an example: "While I've never been a customer-service rep, I was in charge of several major fundraising events at school. During those events, I was responsible for making sure the attendees were satisfied with the experience. So I understand how important it is to delight customers." With a little practice, you will gain confidence and be able to show a potential employer all your potential.
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