It’s confession time. I feel sorry for my oldest daughter, a senior at one of the top universities in the Southeast. I used to say that although I don’t believe in reincarnation, if I did, I would want to come back as one of my kids. I really feel like they have it made. All kidding aside, can you imagine trying to find a job when your dad has been recruiting for nearly 30 years? I must sound so obnoxious to her. She has worked her butt off to get to this point. Although I can be a resource for her, she doesn’t need my criticism and unsolicited job search advice on a daily basis.
Besides, I’ve learned quite a bit from her. I was encouraging her to send cover letters and make sure she followed up after she applied. Turns out her school doesn’t recommend cover letters (although that doesn’t sound like a hard and fast rule). She also said all the jobs she’s applied to asked people not to follow up. Of course I told her I could argue that one, but more importantly she should lean on her connections at said company.
I don’t want to bombard her with job search advice. But, I also know a thing or two about job hunting after all these years. So, I left the job search navigation up to her. Then, I reiterated something she’s heard from me all her life.
“You can’t turn down an offer you don’t get.”
That’s it. The best job search advice I think I could give her or anyone else looking for a new job. Get the offer. You can always turn it down later. If you do your due diligence and have enough interest to do an official interview (video, in person or even on the phone), do everything you can to get the offer.
I am not saying that you keep proceeding through the process once you know you don’t want the job. What I am talking about is how we can poke holes in something without really knowing everything else involved. As you begin the search, it’s important to have your non-negotiables and your preferences in mind. But sometimes it’s easy to confuse the two or even discount something great that isn’t on either of your lists.
Don’t remove your name before you even apply
My daughter came across a job opening that sounded interesting with a gaming company. She hesitated to apply though, as it wasn’t the exact kind of work she was looking for. I encouraged her to at least apply and research it further. I wanted her to get to the stage of learning more about the job. Then if it isn’t going to work, she could always remove her name from contention. At first glance you don’t really know if you’re not interested or if this role couldn’t lead to a dream job down the line. So, don’t “remove your name” by never even applying before you have a chance to learn a little more if other aspects of the job really make sense.
Get the offer first
Essentially, this is the advice parents love to give, “Don’t say no to something without knowing what you’re saying no to.” That works great if we’re about talking green beans or a club at school. But the other aspect of “You can’t turn down an offer you don’t get” is a reminder to keep putting your best foot forward. Sometimes when we aren’t as interested in something (or someone), it’s actually very obvious to everyone around us. Poker face or not. I’ve seen candidates not get an offer because they misunderstood something during the interview. Then, their interest very obviously waned and they blew the interview.
Keep the interest level high. Get the offer. If it turns out it truly isn’t what you want, you can turn it down later. What you can’t do, however, is turn down a job offer you never get.