9 Nov 2017

By Liz Ryan


Dear Liz,

I had an initial interview for an interesting job opportunity two weeks ago.

The day after that interview, the company recruiter called me to invite me to a second interview. She said “You made a great impression yesterday.”

The recruiter sent me an email confirmation of my second interview time and date.

Her email message came with two attachments.

Her note said “At the second interview we’d like you to present a quick 30-60-90-day plan, laying out your priorities for the first three months in this role. Attached are samples and other materials we hope you will find helpful in preparing for that presentation.”

It was a crazy week. I was really busy at work. My boss doesn’t know I’m job hunting.
I didn’t get a chance to work on the 30-60-90-day plan until the night before the interview, but I have created lots of similar presentations before. I’m very comfortable using PowerPoint. I put the presentation together and I felt good about it.

The next day I went to the interview. My hiring manager “Joan” and two other managers were there.

They invited me to start my presentation and I launched into it. They had several questions for me and I think I answered them well, but all three managers had puzzled looks on their faces during my ten-minute talk. It was obvious they were confused about something.

Finally Joan said “You have some great ideas, Patrick. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the company’s 2018 strategy and how it relates to your plans for stepping into this role.”

I didn’t know she was talking about. Why would Joan expect me to know her company’s 2018 strategy? I fumbled my way through the rest of the interview. It was awkward. I knew I wasn’t going to get the job.

When I got home I remembered the two attachments the company recruiter had sent me. I opened them. One of the attachments was a two-page explanation of the company’s 2018 strategy. The other attachment was a booklet containing three sample 30-60-90-day presentations.

Then I realized that the company had provided me with their 2018 strategy so I could use it in creating my presentation. I totally forgot about those attachments. I built my presentation without looking at them.

My PowerPoint deck would have been completely different if I had read the materials before I designed it!

The recruiter wrote to me a few days later to tell me they had offered the job to another candidate. I feel like an idiot.  Do you have any advice for me apart from “pay attention next time?”

Thanks Liz!



Dear Patrick,

It sounds like a frustrating experience, but one with a powerful lesson embedded in it.

Don’t beat up on yourself! Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we all need a wake-up call, and you got a big one last week.

It’s easy enough to say “Pay attention!” but in fact, staying alert and aware of things happening around us can be really hard. You have a busy life, like most people do.

You work full time and on top of that, you’re job-hunting. That’s a lot. It’s very easy for details to get away from us.

The key to staying on top of your job search activity is to treat your job search like a second job.

You need to devote time, space and attention to your job search just as consciously as you devote time, space and attention to  your regular job.

Designate a place in your house or apartment where you’ll conduct your job search. Don’t try to do everything in the moment, from your phone.

Create a spreadsheet that tracks your job search progress in excruciating detail. List every company, job title, recruiter’s name and contact info, manager’s name and contact info, and details of each opportunity you pursue.

Let’s say you get another email message from another company recruiter, once again inviting you to create a presentation and deliver it on a certain date. That’s fine! Now you will  make a project plan.

Put the interview date and time in your calendar and then schedule yourself for two other appointments (with yourself) in advance of the interview date.

In the first chunk of time you’ve scheduled, read whatever the company sent you about its business and do your own research beyond that — reading its website, reviewing its leaders’ LinkedIn profiles and reading what business reporters and bloggers have to say about the organization.

The second chunk of scheduled time will be spent creating your presentation.

You will feel much calmer and better-prepared walking into your presentation if you take a lot of time beforehand to think through all the possible questions and themes that may arise in that meeting.

Job seekers don’t always realize how important it is to get the details right.

At the end of a selection process, it can be hard to decide between two talented candidates. It becomes much easier to decide which candidate to hire when one candidate has a laser focus on their job search (and your company), and the other candidate doesn’t.

Here are ten job search mistakes that make you look sloppy.  Don’t fall victim to any of these!

1. Going to a job interview without reading the company’s website, reading its latest press releases and thinking through the job description (from the job ad) in the context of what you’ve learned.

2. Going to a job interview without having prepared thoughtful questions to ask your interviewer.

3. Dressing too casually for the interview. Check out the company’s website, its leaders’ and employees’ LinkedIn profiles and any images you can find online (from trade shows, customer events, etc.) to determine whether to show up in formal business attire or business casual mode for the interview. When in doubt, ask the recruiter what you should wear!

4. Going to the interview without extra copies of your resume, a good pen and a pad of paper, and a leather or vegan leather padfolio in which to tuck the notepad and pen.

5. Showing up at the interview not sure which job ad you responded to or what the job description might be. This is where your tracking spreadsheet comes in handy!

6. Failing to follow up after an interview.

7. Treating a second interview like a first interview.

8. Waiting until the last minute to bring up critical issues (like the fact that you need a flexible schedule or you plan to work from home). Don’t wait until you get a job offer to broach important topics!

9. Forgetting what you heard at each interview.

Once I interviewed a candidate (“Mike”) for a job that required 50% travel. Fifty percent travel is a lot, so the travel requirement was emphasized in the job ad and at every interview.

After Mike’s second interview, we were close to making him a job offer. I called Mike to talk things over.

Mike said “I really want the job. If you can pay me $60,000 I’ll sign the offer letter and get it right back to you.”

I said “I have a random question for you. You mentioned as we walked down the hall the other day that you just auditioned for a part in a production of ‘My Fair Lady’ here in town. Did you get the part?”

Mike said “I got the part! It’s going to be really fun.”

“Congratulations!” I said. “That’s outstanding. How will you work this new job around your rehearsal schedule? Remember, you’ll be on the road about two weeks every month.”

There was silence on the other end of the phone.

“Oh, no,” Mike said. “I didn’t even think of that.  I didn’t put those two things together — the show, and the travel this new job requires.”

Mike loves his musical theater too much to travel half the time — and I don’t blame him. We hired someone else for the role.

10. You can easily come across as sloppy, forgetful or less than professional when you fail to track each job opportunity.

Don’t let anybody get the wrong impression about you.

Keep calm, give your job search the time and attention it needs to succeed, and get the job you deserve!

All the best,


Read the full article here.
This content was originally published by Forbes Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Forbes Magazine

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