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Go to Menu Deadly Job-Hunting Assumption #1:
They know I want the job

By Nick Corcodilos

Job hunting is challenging enough, but most people make it even more difficult by operating under incorrect assumptions that can cost them their future. One of these assumptions: They know I want the job.

When I coach someone on how to conclude an interview, I always use my "love and marriage" analogy. It makes most people’s eyes light up because they’ve never considered how similar getting a job is to getting married; and they’ve never considered how profound this "closing technique" is. I introduce the analogy by asking:

Would your spouse have accepted your marriage proposal if you had never uttered these exact words at some point during your courtship: "I love you"?

I’ve yet to meet anyone who has gone to the altar without those words being said clearly and sincerely.

In a job interview, it takes a similar unequivocal statement of commitment to elicit a job offer. At some point while you’re taking leave of the employer, you need to look him or her straight in the eye — preferably while you have their hand in the comfortable lock of a handshake — and say, "I want to be a part of your team. I want this job."

Most people never say those words. Why? Because they assume. They think the employer already knows they want the job.

The employer doesn’t know you want the job until you tell him. If you assume he assumes, you lose. So, say it.

From the Ask The Headhunter case file

The sales vice president asked me for help to nail down an offer from the one employer he really wanted to work for.

"Our interview was two weeks ago," he explained, "and I still haven’t heard back. The meeting went exceptionally well. I just don’t get it. What else can I do to get them off the dime?"

I went for the throat. "What was the last thing you did before you left the interview?"

"I shook the manager’s hand and thanked him for his time," said the VP.

"Did you tell him you wanted the job?" I asked.

"No, not in so many words. You know as well as I do that’s just not done. They know I want the job, otherwise why would I be there?"

"You have to tell them in exactly these words: I want the job," I replied. "There is no substitute. Before a company will hand you a hefty salary and the reins to a job, it wants to know that you will wake up every day excited about going to work there. It wants to know you’re in love. It’s probably already too late, but if you want a shot at this job, you have to call and tell them you want it."

Try as I might to explain this, the VP had umpteen reasons why this was "too awkward, too unprofessional and too inappropriate". He not only didn’t get the job; they never called him back. Would he have gotten the job if he’d said the magic words? Maybe, maybe not. But I believe his chances would have been significantly improved if he had.

Most employers will jump over ten candidates who score 100% on the ability scale to hire one who scored 80% but really wanted the job — someone who wanted to be on the team so much he just burst with it. Why? Because you can teach someone skills, but you can’t make him love you.

Learn to say it.

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