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Thank You, Masked Man
We get letters, we get email, we get wine and flowers...
ATH has made me a better employee.
Date: August 20, 2002

I'm sure you receive a lot of thank-you letters from people telling you that they applied the Ask The Headhunter philosophy and it helped them to find a job that they are really excited about doing. This email has one exception in that the book has fundamentally changed the way that I think about interviewing and work in general.

A lot of people, including me, live under the old adage that it is easier to get a job when you have a job. I used to believe this misconception. I was in a situation where I knew that the company that I was working for wasn't going to make it financially.

I was working as a manager for a software development company. The company's business plan (if there was one) was full of holes and I started to feel like I was only there to collect a paycheck. Work is about more than money. It is about doing something that makes you feel inspired, want to grow, change, and contribute. I felt like the people running my business fell asleep at the wheel and I lost the ability to wake up in the morning and think that I was going to do something today to make a difference, no matter how small that contribution was.

The company offered an optional layoff to anyone who wanted it so that they could reduce what was left of their dwindling staff. I took the severance and decided that I would make finding the right job a full-time job. I know that you say that the time that it takes to find your next position doesn't have to be all-encompassing, but in order to do it correctly I believe it does take a phenomenal amount of time.

The Russian Roulette of job seeking that many people find themselves playing is, in my opinion, one of the worst things a person can do. We are not high school students waiting for the captain of the football team to call us. I finally realized that the Human Resources department is an obstruction. It's the reason why I was not being recognized as a potential candidate for jobs that I applied for. When I began to sell myself directly to the hiring manager, I got immediate -- if not always positive -- results. I wasn't just blindly sending resumes to some resume scanner in the sky only to be found one day several years from now, if found at all. Blindly applying to ads on the Internet can totally consume a job seeker's time, and statistically it yields only about a 4% success rate. I received an immediate response from calling the hiring manager directly. This took a lot of the pain out of the job search.

Every day I got up as though I were going to work. I researched five companies by 10 a.m. and another five by 3 p.m.. Every day, I decided that I would make a minimum of 20 phone calls. The calls could be follow-up calls to networking contacts, networking calls to old friends and former co-workers, or networking calls to prospective employers. I only applied to companies that had a business concept that I understood or companies with sound financials. With those 100 calls a week, within two months' time I was able to find what I think will be the right job.

I also used to dread interviewing. I thought of it as an arranged harassment where an interviewer would cross-examine me on tidbits of jobs that I had done 100 years ago. I didn't learn anything about the way that the manager thought or reacted to various situations, or about the job that needed to be done. And the manager learned very little about my ability to respond quickly, to strategize, and to implement solutions to solve the company's problems.

I know that I am a good employee. After reading your book, every interview I went on changed. I was able to adequately demonstrate that I have what it takes to be a good employee, and I was offered almost every job for which I interviewed! By the second interview, I felt like an employee and asked questions as though I were one.

Another thing that I think that many job seekers overlook that you point out in your book is the ability to look past the initial compensation posted for a position. Sure, there may be some jobs that will only pay an entry-level salary and there is no room for flexibility, but there are often hidden benefits that on the surface may not be so apparent. In my case, the company that I will be working for has a two-to-one match on 403B and a huge tuition reimbursement plan. What I didn't expect was for the hiring manager, based on my experience and education, to bump up the grade level for the position so that she could get me in the job. In total compensation, I will be making more than I was making in my last position. The hiring manager pushed the salary grade increase without my having to ask! Now, this is someone worth working for!

I wanted to say thanks. Ultimately, your book helped to change the way I think about work. I think that I will be a better employee because I can recognize the signs in my own behavior when a job or organization becomes broken. I also think that I am now equipped with the tools to make better choices about my fit within an organization and size up relationships with future employers.

I have already recommended your book and life philosophy to a number of people that I know who are still out there searching, many of whom were searching long before I chose to leave my position.

Inga Fleischhacker
Northwestern University
Application Analyst/Training Consultant



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