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Career Corner
Don't Call Off the Job Search Until An Offer Is In Hand

Ramon Greenwood -- That old adage "Don't count your chickens before they hatch" applies to many things in life, including the job search process. Being close is not the same is closing the deal.

All of the vibes seemed positive. You've had a series of interviews with a potential employer, beginning with the human resources officer heading up the job search and moving through to the manager to whom the position reports. It looks like a perfect fit for your particular education and experience. There's even been discussion of a starting date. Lunch with the division vice president, which you are told is really just a sign-off, couldn't have gone better.

It looks like a marriage made in heaven. You want the job; it's a step forward toward your career goals. The organization seems to want you. You've been told that you'll get the final "welcome aboard" notice within a few days.

Days and finally weeks go by with no offer. The feedback from your follow-up calls is positive. In the meantime, you have put your job search on hold. You've passed up some attractive leads for other opportunities. You may even have told friends the good news.

Then, the bomb drops. You get the dreaded email: "We appreciate your interest in joining our organization, but we have decided to select another candidate whose particular set of skills and experience more nearly meet our needs. We wish you success."

Five career lessons from this scenario are loud and clear:

1. Never fall in love with one position. Be flexible; play the field.

2. Never take anything for granted. The deal is never complete until its signed, sealed and delivered.

3. Keep your search on the front burner until you have a job firmly in hand.

4. Don't blame yourself. Learn from the experience. Review the history of the search that came close to a job. Did you make your best effort? How can your campaign be improved?

5. Recognize that much of the influence on hiring decisions is beyond your control.

The latter point is particularly critical if you are experiencing multiple rejections. Ofer Sharone, an assistant professor at MIT Sloan School of Management who is conducting research on this topic declares:

"It is personally devastating to start thinking there is something wrong with you. People start to believe that they are flawed...that there is something internally and deeply wrong with them. This (leads) to discouragement and people stopping the job search. If you start to think that it's your fault you're not getting a job, in many cases once you get to that stage it's very hard to continue job searching."

He says this typically happens for those who are unemployed for six months or longer and becomes stronger with time.

Sharone concludes that there are always significant elements in any job search that are beyond your control.

To read more of Ramon Greenwood's common sense at work advice on how to protect and advance your career during tough times, sign up for a free subscription to his widely read e-newsletter, and participate in his blog: Ramon coaches from a successful career as Senior VP at American Express, author of career-related books, and a senior executive/consultant in Fortune 500 companies.

© 2009 Ramon Greenwood

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