So there I was, unemployed, on a 1st interview date with the MD of a company, to talk about a possible job. I was hopeful and it went great! We chatted very nicely, with a lot of warmth and laughter, agreed on many things, and really had a fabulous conversation. So I thought a 2nd interview date that she invited me for could be nice.
Only difference? This time it was of course with a different person, the line manager.
And oh boy! The chemistry was so cold you could have made popsicles in the room.
My date was not a fan of smiling, it seemed, and I felt scrutinized by his blue eyes, that I felt were trying to pierce through something in mine. He was straight to the point, direct, and not the best conversationalist, in my opinion. I shifted in my seat, made feeble attempts to smile, engage, make little jokes, but nope, no response, got the cold shoulder.
So you know how halfway through a bad date you sit there wondering what is stopping you from leaving, and yet you carry on polite conversations anyway, till somehow, both of you can escape? It was kind of like that. I was answering questions blankly. I don’t know about my date, but I felt I couldn’t breathe.
Sure, it wasn’t a personal date, but positivity, smiles, warmth, are very important for me in relationships, whether it be my partner or my boss. How can I work with someone for 8-10 hours a day, with someone who can’t manage one smile or a kind look in his eyes or a little lightness for one whole hour? The 10 hours of office unhappiness would lead to 24 hours of stress then!
Ok fine, benefit of doubt, maybe he was like that just in the interview to grill me. But a, there is something called chemistry, things that we feel, and b, even when we walked out of the interview room, it stayed the same till we said goodbye.
Yes, it was an interview. So he doesn’t really have to care whether the interviewee likes him or not. Or does he? He is representing the company, so is it only important how the job-seeker brand shows up, and not the employer one?
I guess one viewpoint is that if the company values don’t match the applicant’s values, he/ she is welcome to walk away. But most job-seekers feel desperation at some point and think if the role is good, they will suck up a grumpy boss and anything else that makes them super stressed. Be unhappy everyday, but at least it pays the rent, right?
That got me thinking, seriously, is this the only way to pay the bills? Live in an atmosphere where the values of a person I will be working most closely with, is completely opposite mine?
I got out of the office and immediately I felt the tension leaving my body. I breathed in deeply, smiled, soaked up the sun, walked on happily, glad to get away. There was going to be no 3rd date.
But I really liked the MD, she was also introduced to me by a friend, and I didn’t want her to spend her valuable time processing my application.
So I just drafted her a letter thanking her for the opportunity to discuss, but I wouldn’t be considering the role, and she should not waste time reviewing my fit any further. I don’t know if applicants send rejection letters, but my gut told me to, and I did.
I basically rejected a job I didn’t even have!
I know it’s hard when you’re out of a job, but remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and if you get a job, the employer is not doing you a favor, it’s because they think you’re worthy and the right ‘fit’.
So you, on the other side, need to screen the employer too. Are they worthy of you and do their values match yours? In fact, as one of the 1st steps of personal branding, do you even know your values?
You have to be authentic and true to yourself. If you know you’re going to hate working somewhere, and yet go for it, you’re not being honest or providing value to yourself and the employer.
I know, you could be saying, if someone is desperate for a job and has responsibilities; it is not possible to refuse a job, and how much do values matter anyway?
Well, everyone has their own choice, but if being in an environment feels claustrophobic, then the difference between having a job and not, is just the sustenance factor.
Of course, you can always take this job and look out for other ones simultaneously. Seriously, for anyone who has done a job change, how well does that work? You get caught in the everyday tasks, and try to do job search when you get home, while balancing time with friends and family. And that’s more stressful.
So if sustenance is the key issue, you can always leverage your personal brand and find creative ways for generating income, yet being authentic, and true to your values. For example:
Identify your core professional skills and explore part-time jobs based on that, till you find the full-time job. There are many part-time or project based jobs and website for those.
Identify your secondary skills related to your interests and explore those jobs. E.g Can you do some tutoring? Provide gardening tips? Do freelance content marketing? Many people start like this and go on to become full-time entrepreneurs!
Identify what you’re good at based on some experience you’ve had, and see if you can use it to generate income. E.g. I have a friend who started giving parenting talks based on his experience as a 1st-time father.