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Thank You, Masked Man
We get letters, we get email, we get wine and flowers...
"Sit down, shut up, you got the job."
Date: September 18, 2001

Wow. I'm still amazed. I got the job today, but I gotta say, I've never quite been told the way I was today.

The middle of June, I was informed that my contract would be over the end of the week. Actually a relief in a way... I was having second thoughts about the project I'd been transferred to (it headed straight into the Dilbert Zone, according to people I've kept in touch with).

Anyhoo, no big deal, right? I'm an experienced IT worker, what a hot field to be in, all I gotta do is make a couple calls, set up some interviews and decide which job offer to pick, right?... NOT.

As the summer goes by, I realize that my sense of timing for being unemployed was pretty lousy... nobody hiring, significant percentage have freezes in place until end of fiscal year, just nothing going on.

In the meantime, I've stumbled across the Ask The Headhunter site. Wow. This stuff really seems to make sense. I start practicing some of the techniques.

The job market in the area is still in the toilet, but I'm building confidence. Do the Job. Take Control of the Interview. More and more, this makes sense. 

It's now late August. Get a cold call from a headhunter who'd somehow gotten my name from a job board posting I'd submitted previously (and never gotten the slightest reply to, wonder why?). He might have something, would I be interested? Calls back two weeks later on the weekend, can I interview Monday? Sheesh, worst possible time, my mom in hospital for surgery, just getting out that day, oh well, let's do it. 

No time at all to prepare or do homework once I found out who the client is. Gotta do something, though, so I slap together a quick and dirty presentation. Get to the interview.  Still nervous. I meet the manager, he starts the "describe what you did that's written down on your resume in front of me" routine. I'm stumbling on my words, knowing the background of my last job is NOT what he's looking for.

After 10 minutes, I remember to TAKE CONTROL of the interview. I stand up and tell him that maybe the way we're going about this is not the best. I'd like to take 10 minutes to show him something. I'm getting the evil eye, I think I pissed him off... I hand him a copy of the presentation, tell him this is something I put together to try to show him how I am capable of solving his problems in a timely, cost effective manner.

I clumsily try to recite the bullet points as he looks to his computer to check his e-mail and calendar. Not a good sign. Five minutes into my presentation, he says, "This would be fine if you were a consultant bidding on a contract, but that's not what I'm looking for." 

Crap. This ain't working, we're just gonna talk politely for another 30 minutes, and then he'll tell me he'll call if he's interested.

"Barry, I'm not a salesman. It's not what I'm good at. I'm outside of my comfort zone, but right here and now, I have to be a salesman, because I have to convince you that I am the man for the job, that I am capable of solving your problems for you."

"Point taken."

"I know I'm not coming up with all the right words, and my armpits are sweating down to my ribcage, and I know some of the solutions I put down are way off base because all I had to operate on was what Rick [the headhunter] said you'd told him, but I did all this to give you some concrete examples of real problems I've faced and how I was able to solve them, and to try to show you how I would go about solving some of the problems you have here and now."  

Silence for about 20 seconds.

"Sit down and shut up. You got the job."

Barry spent the remaining 40 minutes of the hour he'd allocated for the interview going over the problems he has, the initiatives he wants to get going, and described the department and team structure so I had an idea of who the players are and where he was getting push-back on changes he was trying to make.

At the end, when he asked if I had any questions, he'd already covered it all. The only thing I could think of was, "The dress code is business casual, right?"

I'll start in another day or two as soon as he can ramrod the paperwork through HR. I have to say again, I've never quite gotten a job offer worded like this one. It feels pretty good.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Bob Cole



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