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It’s not all about you …

meHow often have you heard me say the job search process is “all about them”? Or the flip side of that, “it’s not all about you”? For the sake of argument, trust me, it’s been a lot. Remember that as I share this story …

My husband was asked to take over as head custodian, temporarily, at another school in his district. He readily agreed. This was on Tuesday. The hiring manager said, “I’ll call you on Friday and confirm everything …” Understandably, my husband was thrilled for the opportunity, happy to have his hard work and dedication recognized and wanted to nail down the details. Who knows what doors this could open?

Fast-forward to Friday morning. As he leaves, he reminds me his boss is supposed to call him today with the details of his new job. He’s pumped. That night, as soon as he walks through the door, I can tell something’s wrong. “Did they go another direction with the assignment?” I ask diplomatically. Worse – the guy never called.

He was angry. A normal reaction when “you’re” excited about a new opportunity in “your” life and “you” don’t get the call back “you” were promised. He ranted on for a little while about unprofessional this and I’ll tell him that, yadda, yadda, yadda. Perfectly normal “you-centered” reaction. I let him vent for a little while and eventually interrupted with what he thought to be a completely inappropriately timed question … I said, “You don’t read my blog very often, do you?”

He looked at me, “er, ah, no ….” Frankly, he has a job he enjoys so doesn’t read anybody’s job search blog. Besides, he gets my pearls of wisdom first hand, on myriad topics. Why would he spend timing reading my blog too? But I digress …

I told him, “Honey, I love you dearly, but right now, it’s not all about you”. He told me he called the hiring authority late in the day, but whoever answered the phone said the boss left early. OK, so here’s a manager in a large geographic, growing multi-school district, addressing who knows what every day and he decides to try and leave early on Friday afternoon. I looked at my husband and said, you know what it’s like when you’re trying to leave early. Something major always happens and small details drop by the wayside. Not an excuse. Reality.

I went on to say, you agreed to do the job, right? Yes. So, your manager crossed that task off his to-do list. Sure, if he said he was going to call, he should have, but you’re taking it personally. This is probably just a case of “busy manager, trying to leave early.” Beside, the original conversation happened Tuesday. Perhaps he plain old forgot. Or there’s the chance he thought about it driving home and didn’t have your number. Or, when prioritizing HIS list figured he’d catch you Monday morning. Whatever. Remember: In his whole scheme of things, Friday / Monday – no big deal. In your world, Friday / Monday – HUGE. Look at things from his perspective … remembering what? That’s right. It’s not all about you. He started to relax.

Then he said, “He won’t know I called,” indicating he’d not left a message. Well, no dear, he won’t know you called if you didn’t leave a message. He started to tense up again. I said, no worries, just be sure to mention it when you do finally speak. A casual, “I must have just missed you Friday. Sorry we didn’t connect” will let him know you called. Next time, leave a message with your cell phone number and say something like call at your convenience. I’ll be around this weekend if it’s easier for you. (… all about them)

If you have to place a call to keep the ball moving and help keep the process on track, then do it. Take charge. Take responsibility. Make the call early in the day. It not only shows interest in the position; it helps the manager manage his day and indicates how well you’ll perform as an employee with increased responsibilities. It’s your job to make your manager look good. That means changing your attitude and your approach. You’re always looking for advancement opportunities – that’s the only “all about you part” – but, you find those opportunities by approaching things with a how can I make us all look better and do better approach – all about them.

So gentle reader AND dear husband, in the job search / career advancement / professional world, the end result – where you go, what you do, the effort you exert, the training you gather along the way – is all about you, but guys, that’s it. Everything else – job search, employment, special projects, advancement – is all about them. Deal with it. Embrace it

And a quick note to the “thems” in this equation – If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you don’t respect people during the initial interview / early employment / advancement stage of the relationship, what kind of message are you sending? Do what you say you’re going to do or delegate the task – “call me Friday morning” – to ensure optimum communication and no loose ends. Sure you’re busy; but there is no excuse for rudeness.

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