Close But No Cigar

Well, things got very close there for a while, but now it seems as if neither of the two opportunities I had been hoping for will come through.  It is a very disheartening situation for so many people out there, so I thought sharing my story might help.

The first opportunity to come along was up in New York.  Do you recall that I did some bibliometric analyses for a friend of mine working for a medical publisher?  Well that business is, of course, just part of a larger business in the world of publishing.  An opening arose for a Pricing Director in the “Law and Business” unit of the organization.  I thought I had a real shot.

First off, my unique pricing skills and my history at Thomson actually got me past their HR department immediately.  No calls to contacts at the company, no pulling strings to make sure I actually got a callback – a real person truly contacted me based solely on my resume and online application.  I was beginning to think that was impossible.

As we progressed through the process, I was feeling more and more comfortable with both the job, and the people.  Their interview methods were fantastic – they would ask real-world questions.  Things like, how would such-and-such a circumstance affect the price of a certain product.  We could then have an intelligent discussion about what kinds of skills, what kinds of analysis I could bring to the table. 

The hiring manager even gave me a homework assignment for our in-person interview: here is a scenario.  Prepare to explain/show/demonstrate the types of analyses you would do to determine how to price products within this scenario.  I loved it.  I dove into it and because all of the analyses I did for Thomson were proprietary, I simply made up my own analyses and dropped them into a PowerPoint.  The hiring manager seemed to be very impressed, and I thought I had a real shot.  I was told they were in the final round of decision-making, and that I just had to meet with one more person, the CEO.

There were delays in getting that interview scheduled, and eventually the whole thing just petered out.  I had been expecting my HR contact to call me again to reschedule a cancelled appointment, and she simply never did.  Just silence.  Also during that time frame, my friend (in the medical publishing part of the business) sent an unsolicited recommendation to the hiring manager (a peer, as they were both at the VP level and had recently met), but even that was met with silence.  I have still not heard back from them.

The second opportunity kicked off a week or two after the above opportunity, so I was just playing it safe, following the lead, not burning any bridges as first a recruiter, and then the hiring manager, seemed quite interested in me for a position with a company out in Columbus Ohio.  They were quite eager and moved very quickly, wanting to fly me out to Ohio for a gauntlet of meetings, both formal and informal, with another player in the scientific research publishing world.  (Not quite the same type of publisher as the first, but it’s too complicated to get into here, speaking in generalities.)  There were two openings here – one for a department head, and one for a Product Manager.  Although they originally sought me out as the department head, they concluded upon my visit that I didn’t have quite the management/leadership experience they had been hoping for, and I was told they were determining which job to offer me.  But rest assured, they did want to offer me a job.  I would learn more soon.

So there was a two-week window when I seriously thought that two job offers could very well be coming my way.  Neither was exactly perfect, but both were pretty damned good.  Either would mean we would have to relocate – New York being much simpler as I could, technically, commute while we split the difference and moved to New Jersey.  But Ohio would have paid for our relocation.  The whole family was discussing the merits of one over the other – the two jobs, while quite different from each other, really balanced out in the end.  I could see myself happy and successful in either position.

It was a great place to be, attitude-wise.  I was on top of the world – my references were checking out (actually, they were glowing, but in the end it’s more of a pass-fail type thing).  As the final round of interviews with the Pricing Director opportunity began its delays, the recruiter for the Product Manager position was saying that an offer was forthcoming any day.  I hoped it would come quickly – not because I was as eager to start as they seemed to want me to be, but because I could then at least push the issue with the New York company to get some closure (or pressure or leverage?).  My family was more keen on moving to New York, but the salaries being discussed were about the same – and that same money would stretch much further in Ohio than in New Jersey.

I never did hear back on the Pricing Director job, but it didn’t matter because I was finally getting a job offer.  After a year of being unemployed (although only about six months of no-pressure job hunting, thanks to a generous separation package) I was going to be gainfully employed again.  My brain started wrapping itself around the slightly new market I would be facing, the challenges, the questions I would want to answer as I hit the ground running in my brand new start.

I would talk with the recruiter, HR department, or the hiring manager himself, on an average once a day for another two weeks, as final details were being ironed out.  I began thinking how I wanted to negotiate – security on the ability to sell our house and time for my family’s move were the key elements for me, much more than overall salary niggling or other issues.  It finally came to the point where my recruiter told me that, “the offer will come tomorrow”.

Now, there were a couple of things that happened here which are not appropriate to post publicly, but suffice it to say that a concern arose on their end.  Despite the fact that my recruiter told me that “everything [was] cleared up and checks out, the offer will still be coming tomorrow”, tomorrow became “Monday”, and on Monday I was told “I thought the offer was coming yesterday.”

I sent a note directly to the hiring manager, copying my HR rep and recruiter, apologizing for any misconfusion and letting them know I was very interested in working with them.  My recruiter contacted me later that day, telling me they had received my note and that although he was not made aware of the status, the company (meaning either the hiring manager or the HR rep) would be contacting me directly.

Before the week was through I knew it was over for me – with no word from any of my contacts, I knew that their interest had suddenly disappeared.  It’s possible they found someone else, and it is equally likely that they simply decided I was not the person for the job.  But just as with the Pricing Director opportunity, I have not heard back from them since.

It can be very frustrating to a job hunter, working one’s way through the initial screening through to an interview, onto a second, third and more round of interviews, and getting so close to an offer without receiving one.  Hopes are naturally dashed as expectations are not met.  The thought of going back out and blasting resumes again, putting on that suit for another introductory interview with yet another hiring manager sitting pretty atop a buyer’s market can be just too much for a person to take.

But we must not give up hope.  The past weeks and months have not been wasted – learn from them.  Improve what we can for next time.  There will be a next time.  And just as a bad breakup makes it difficult for one to get back into the dating pool again, the reward of a fulfilling partnership more than makes it worth the attempt to smile, shave, and introduce yourself once more.

2 Responses to “Close But No Cigar”
  1. Doug says:

    I never did hear back from either opportunity. The Pricing Director position finally disappeared from the company’s Website at the beginning of December, obviously fulfilled by a stronger candidate. Although I am disappointed they did not do me the courtesy of a simple email, I don’t begrudge them finding the best candidate for the position.

    The Product Manager position also never contacted me. However both the department head and the Product Manager opportunity are still posted today. So I wrote back to the hiring manager and the recruiter, just last week, with a very humble note, explaining how I am working on addressing the one concern that arose during the process (despite the fact of them telling me that everything checked out) and that I am still interested in helping them to bring their product into the future. How did that go?

    The recruiter wrote back to me last week saying that as of the last word (before my note) the hiring manager was not interested in speaking further with me about either position. Of course he said if he hears otherwise he would let me know, but again, no word from any party regarding my efforts.

    I was not very optimistic about this solution – and had it actually worked, I am not sure I would have wanted to work with people who blew me off so easily, nor would my family have been happy to resurrect the “move to Ohio” discussion. But it was an open end and I attempted to close it. And although I have still not ever received a definitive “no” from anyone there (and stating such in my recent note to them), I now consider this closed. I will not correspond with the company, nor check to see if/when the job (listed now for almost 18 months) actually gets filled.

    It’s simply too bad for them.

    Doug 1/5/11

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