Always the Runner-Up For
Learn Why, Then Tweak Your Pitch
Congratulations. You just came in second for a coveted job with a new employer.
Rather than fume, look at the bright side: You were almost the
perfect pick. Placing second "does show that you are on the right
path," says J. Damian Birkel, a career counselor for Williams, Roberts,
Young, a human-resources consulting firm in
Joe Conroy says he actually "felt good" when he became
the runner-up for a finance chief's job at a
The lessons you glean from this all-too-common setback could make you the successful pick someday. Boost your chances by discovering why you placed second, keeping in touch with the hiring manager and tweaking your pitch.
Ask the recruiter for honest insights about your defeat. "Did I act ambivalent during the job interviews? Appear desperate? Inflate my qualifications? Lack passion about my prowess? Wear the wrong suit?"
Fred Whelan, a partner at Whelan Stone, a
AstraZeneca requires the 17
You can also get the straight scoop from other inside contacts. Workplace psychologist Dory Hollander once lost her bid to be executive-development manager of a big Florida bank. An acquaintance there, who had sponsored her candidacy, revealed that the bank preferred a charismatic "golden boy" because he knew more industry players. A bit irritated, she wondered, "How could they pick this buffoon over me?"
But it's much harder to elicit the truth about your turndown from the hiring manager. One solution: Request the explanation in a nonthreatening manner that reiterates your interest in the enterprise. Email the hiring official and inquire " 'how [do] you perceive me and my experience? And if there's anything I can do to help going forward, please keep me in mind,' " suggests Jonathan Schwartz, president and chief operating officer of Sun Microsystems, a computer maker in Santa Clara, Calif. "Looking for a job is an investment in your network," he notes.
You can sustain this rapport -- and perhaps nab the next vacancy -- by seeking the hiring manager's permission to stay in touch. Send "soft sell" reminders, such as holiday cards, a congratulatory note about the company's newest ad campaign or an updated résumé. Mr. Conroy, the spurned finance chief, intends to reach out to the CEO of the financial-services firm about once a month because the executive has offered to recommend him elsewhere.
Last June, a
The woman invited Mr. Glaser to apply for a similar spot last fall. Unfortunately, an insider edged him out again. And another media holding concern passed him over in favor of a returning former employee.
Some businesses woo an also-ran again when their initial choice
stumbles. "Definitely go for it," though "with your eyes
open," urges Dr. Hollander, president of WiseWorkplaces, an
executive-coaching firm in
Make sure your follow-up efforts don't wear out your welcome, though. The runner-up for a $75,000 middle manager's job at the American Management Association phoned its top HR official the first Monday of the month for a year to grill him about other opportunities.
"She wasted her time and my time" because there was no
suitable match, says Manny Avramidis, the
If you frequently come in second, consider revamping your job search. Mr. Glaser's three experiences inspired him to re-examine what he wanted to do. "I realized I wasn't media focused. I was promotions focused."
He was finally hired in February as a business-development vice
president for ePrize, an interactive promotions agency based in
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Article from CareerJournal Today – May 2005