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In case anyone was wondering, Agency A has YET to contact me to tell me ANYTHING.  No calls to tell me they are going in another direction.  No emails to say they are evaluating other candidates.  No communication whatsoever in over four weeks to let me know whether or not they even have a clue.

Sure, I no longer need to concern myself with the jamokes at Agency A since the search is over…since the new deal starts soon.   But, as a result of the immense amount of relief I feel as a result of the new deal starting, I have the brief luxury of considering the absurdity of the actions of Agency A.

Why go to the time and expense of flying a person to another city, putting them up in a hotel, and then scheduling an entire’s day worth of interviews for the candidate with senior members of the organization, only to then drop the ball so completely afterwards???

It boggles…

And, it is with that perspective that I now look forward to the new situation.

(Oh, and I ran into three former GM clients today during my trip to the grocery store.  THAT was a little awkward…)

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Two days after having returned from the city where Agency A is located (Atlanta, in case you were guessing at home…BTW, I wonder if I have any old friends/acquaintances or know any jamokes who live in the Greater Atlanta Area?!?!?!?!…oh, nevermind…)…

Two days after returning from the visit to Agency A, I received a fone call from Agency B instead. Basically, here’s how the conversation went…

Agency B – “Are you still interested?”
Me – “Yes I am.”
Agency B – “Then we won’t be interviewing anyone else. Look for an offer from us within the next two days.”
Me – “Thank You Very Much.”
Agency B – “No…Thank You.”

Now the dilemma really begins. Bird in the hand versus two in the bush? What are the chances? And, nevermind a scenario where the”offer” would not be acceptable. Nope, it wasn’t going to be any easier navigating the possibilities just because one suitor had proposed. Making a false move here could blow my chances with both opportunities.

But, I have dragged out the suspense long enough…

The offer from Agency B, when it was received, was acceptable. I was able to relax a little. Out of courtesy to Agency A, though, I didn’t immediately accept Agency B’s offer. Sure, in the back of my head I thought it would be cool to have them fight over me. “Letting the bidding begin!” But, in reality, I knew that was not going to happen. Instead, the thought was that a) they had flown me to another city, put me up in a hotel, and spent an entire day with me…I owed them the courtesy of telling them about the other agency and b) I needed to give them a day or two more to come to their own decision about the right person for their open position.

So, I called Mr. Somebody Important and left him a voicemail requesting a quick conversation. After not hearing from him for a day, I called his Admin. Speaking with her I explained the situation, informed her of my desire to give them every courtesy, and asked her if I could have just a few minutes of Mr. Somebody Important’s time. She assured me that she would give him the message and suggest he call me back…and she congratulated me on getting the offer.

I didn’t get a phone call.

After the third business day of failing to hear from Agency A, I made the decision to accept Agency B’s offer.

It is done. Finito. Kaput.

I have informed my superior. I have quietly let friends and coworkers know my plans. Tomorrow will be the day I provide my “official” two week notice. And, tomorrow is the day I tell the current clients. This next two weeks will be relaxing and full of optimism.
BTW, both Agencies do work for the same client…T0y0ta…so, I will probably run into Mr. Somebody Important again. It is a small world after all. And, I can’t wait to see his expression change the first time that chance meeting occurs.

In closing, we won’t be moving. And, I get to do the home office thing whenever I’m not travelling. I am joining a smaller organization and will work for/with a client on a pretty good run of positive momentum.

And, I want to give all of you a BIG thanks…

While waiting for the courtship to continue (translation – flying to the home office to meet everyone face-to-face) with Agency A, an old suitor just happened to come a-calling. Imagine my surprise.

Yes, some will say, “when it rains it pours”. And, true, some will say my patience up until now was rewarded with all of this recent courtship activity. And, conversely, others would say I just happened to be a fairly lucky jamoke.

Regardless, I was all of a sudden put into an unfamiliar role…having to satisfy multiple requests for my attention.

And, I have no experience juggling two girlfriends at once….literally OR figuratively.

Regular readers will recall my adventure earlier this year with an agency and a job I wanted. Ultimately I wasn’t selected for that position, but all in I had had a fairly good experience. At that time, I would have had to move cities. But, the situation would have been worth the change. Well, nearly a year later, that particular agency (Agency B) called me out of the blue, asked me if I was still interested in them…although for a different position…and when I said yes, told me they’d be calling back shortly.

This was what was then in my head when I flew to meet with the principals at Agency A. I knew I had a pretty solid lead “in my back pocket” while I went to get the “once-over” and take the “look-see”. For the most part (foreshadowing), the trip was uneventful. I arrived, took the taxi to the hotel, checked in, called home, and then went to sleep. The next morning I drank some coffee, had a muffin, did a little touch-up pressing to my suit, and then walked to the location for the interviews. Uneventful so far, right? Right.

I was told by the Admin (mentioned here) upon arrival the names of the people with whom I would be meeting. I was given names, but not titles or departments. This would turn out to be an issue later on. I was informed that the first scheduled interview was currently occupied with something else more pressing and so the interview rotation was being adjusted. As a result, the first person I met was none other than the Mr. Somebody Important (with whom I had had a swell fone interview). However, when he walked into the room for the interview his facial expression changed noticeably and I knew instantly I was not what he had been expecting. The interview went nowhere fast after that. Granted, there wasn’t an overt issue…and nothing was directly or indirectly stated…but, I knew this guy didn’t want to hire me. He had said one thing on the fone. He acted very differently upon meeting face to face. And, truth be told, I probably would have had a problem with his management style anyway. I could tell he was a closet micro-manager. At the end of the hour he excused himself and wished me luck with the rest of the people whom I would meet. I thanked him for the interview.

I don’t believe I did poorly in that actual interview. But, maybe I could have said/done something during that hour to change what was his first impression. But, I will never know.

I believe I impressed person number two, though. He and I had some similar stories/experiences.

Person number three was the person who had originally been my initial interview. Turns out he was the CEO of the agency.

Now you know why titles and department names are important for interviewers.

Had the CEO been my first interview right out of the gate…along with not knowing his role (importance) in the agency, I surely would have been sent home before lunch. I would have bombed. As it was I don’t believe I did as well with him as I could have, even with the adjusted schedule.

Plain and simple, he was in a hurry.

Person number four was my lunch date. He and I hit it off and traded war stories. I felt as if I could have easily worked with him.

Person number five was the Head of the Internet Department. Wow. Suffice it to say I now understand why I have not been hired (let alone even considered) by any interactive agencies. If he represents the “look” required in those fine establishments, I’m from the wrong epoch. Clothes, hair style, glasses, mannerisms…everything was off the wall. Everything would scare every client I had ever serviced. Regardless, I believe he and I hit it off as well. I probably could have gotten used to his “look”…and I know I could have learned some stuff from him.

Person number six was actually a subordinate to the position for which I was interviewing. She was very capable and competent and surely put into the schedule to assess my skill as a manager and supervisor. I believe I performed well here too. She was the only one to give me a business card at the conclusion of the interview.

Person number seven was the last and final interview. Turns out he was the CFO and part owner of the company. He’s the one who made an issue of the “not giving me the titles oversight”. To quote, “I have told them repeatedly. We need to include titles and departments when we invite people in to our shop. This is a reflection on us. This is not how we should operate. I’m sorry. Do you know who I am?”

As I smiled, “I figured it out, sir.”

He was definitely someone for whom I could work. He inspired loyalty. And, the interview with him went very well.

Before leaving I asked the Admin if I could meet with Mr. Somebody Important for a few short minutes just to recap and conclude the events of the day. She informed me he was desperately trying to get something out the door for a client and would be unable to meet with me. I thanked her for the assistance and said goodbye. In summary, I had two so-so interviews and five successful interviews…I think.

Then I took a taxi to the airport. While waiting for my departure, I purchased a gift for each of the kids.

It had been a long day.

But, that’s not the end of the story.

 

(to be concluded)

So, the company mentioned here finally got around to calling me to set up an interview. The HR person (different than the one who sent me the automatic response email) said I would be doing a fone interview with somebody important and offered several hour-long blocks of time over the span of several days in which the call could occur. Not to appear too interested, I picked a date and time that was a few days out…but before the end of the span of offered days.

On the day of the fone interview, I was extremely busy. Parent stuff…conference call stuff…email stuff…catching up or getting ahead stuff. It was nonstop excitement and pressure. But, despite everything going on, I made sure to take a break to ensure I was mentally and physically prepared for the conversation. I was composed. I was calm and collected.

Two minutes before the allotted time my cell fone rang. It was another HR person. Apparently Mr. Somebody Important had been called into an emergency meeting and would have to reschedule. No apology was offered. But, then again, I didn’t expect one. The HR person asked to reschedule the call for the same time on the next business day. I acknowledged the request and replied it would be fine with me. Then , I confirmed the day and time as I wrote them down. Lastly, while still top of mind I wrote the information into my day planner.

At the agreed upon time on the next business day I was again sitting by the fone waiting for it to ring. After ten minutes without a ring I decided something had gone wrong. Maybe they had gotten the fone number wrong, I thought. Maybe I had gotten the time zone deal confused, I wondered. Maybe they had forgotten to call and tell me that I was no longer one of their candidates (which has happened before), I postulated. So, I called and spoke with the first HR person…since the second one had never provided me with a fone number. Needless to say, that person had zero knowledge of what was (or wasn’t) going on with my fone interview…but offered to find out and call me back. To my surprise I was informed I had gotten the day wrong. Fortunately, the mixup hadn’t caused me to miss the interview. It was supposed to occur a day later. The HR person seemed a little perturbed, but offered an apology. I quickly offered my own and then thanked the person for the assistance

But, I know I got the date and time correct. I know I was right.

So, at this point I began to wonder how many strikes I should give this outfit. Don’t the actions thus far imply endemic problems with the organization?

On the following day, I had a great interview with Mr. Somebody Important. He and I had a similar background and knew some of the same people. He seemed to be highly competent and capable and confident. I was inspired and told him I remained interested in the position. He informed me that I had the exact qualifications for which he was searching and was the number one candidate for the position. He stated that I would need to fly to his city to meet the other principals of the agency. I told him I was ready and available at anytime.

Two weeks later I was contacted about making flight/hotel arrangements. And, all in, the proposed plan for the trip was very convenient for me. It was going to be a good day.

But, that’s not the end of the story.

(to be continued…)

The eternal question…

Having once been through a similar situation to what Taco Bell is currently going through, I’m extremely glad in hindsight I was not brought on earlier this year as an employee of that fine company. (Regular readers may remember that I came very close to joining the Nachos Bell Grande Group, but struck out in the final period of the match.) My experience with customers having a bad time and products getting recalled occured with a previous automotive client whose SUVs were accused of flipping over and whose tires were susceptible to blow-outs. It was not a fun time for me. (Definitely wasn’t fun for those customers either.) So, in essence, I feel as if I’ve been there and done that already. And, even though the roll-over/blowout thing was eventually fixed with my former client…and as the E Coli thing will surely be fixed with Taco Bell, I still would not want to have to deal with that type of thing again.

Especially considering it appears the lettuce is to blame

It may seem a little bit cocky of me to claim or imply I’m a star performer, but a) I don’t spend a lot of time bragging about it and b) people HAVE told me it’s true. So, I think I’m OK here. Regardless, the situation described in this article struck a chord with me. (From the Houston Chronicle)

Star workers tire of performing while others loaf
By JANET H. CHO

What if you found out that nearly half your department’s star performers – the dream employees you couldn’t imagine not relying on – were seriously looking for new jobs?

What would you do?

That scenario isn’t as far-fetched as you might think.

A recent workplace survey of 16,237 workers by Leadership IQ, a leadership training and research firm in Washington, D.C., found that nearly half the people regarded as stellar performers were actively trying to leave their current employers.

Think about that.

Forty-seven percent of your most productive, most creative, most valuable workers are mailing out resumes, going on job interviews, even contemplating other offers.

Even worse, many managers are actually accelerating those departures by how they treat those employees, said Mark Murphy, chief executive of Leadership IQ and co-author of The Deadly Sins of Employee Retention: Cutting Edge Strategies for Keeping Your Best People.

“Frankly, we treat our high performers worse than any other employee,” he said.

“When a manager has a tough project upon which the whole company depends, to whom do they turn?

“Who gets the late hours and the stress? It’s not the low performers, because managers want the project done right. Instead, managers turn to their handful of high performers.

“Over and over we ask our high performers to go above and beyond, making their jobs tough and burning them out at a terrible pace. Meanwhile, low performers often get easier jobs because their bosses dread dealing with them and may avoid them altogether.”

Little wonder that “high performers hate slackers,” he said. “Eighty-seven percent of (high performers) say working with a low performer or a slacker has actually made them want to change jobs. They’re really sick of having to carry the load for everybody else.”

That same study found that:

• Twenty-five percent of middle performers, as measured by their annual performance appraisal scores, are actively looking for another job.

• Only 18 percent of “slackers,” the people who spend more time trying to avoid work than actually doing any, are looking around.

“These are the kinds of issues that the average kindergarten teacher has to deal with on a daily basis, … but most managers have absolutely no training on how to deal with these issues,” Murphy said.

So how do you reverse the trend? First, identify your high performers and commit yourself to holding on to them.

If you oversee a company with 10,000 people, instead of trying to retain 5,000 to 6,000 of them, “get every one of your managers to commit to holding on to the best four or five people,” he said.

Supervisors need to talk one-on-one with each of those targeted people to ask them what they love about their jobs and what drives them crazy.

Be sure to act quickly

“You want to have a private conversation as soon as you sense that someone you consider indispensable may be thinking about leaving,” said Sandy Kristin Piderit, associate professor in organizational behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Piderit suggests an open-ended question such as, “What do you like best about working here?” and letting the employee bring up any negative aspects.

“It has to be the high performer’s decision at the end, but you want to open up the conversation before it’s too late and they have another job and they’re coming in to give notice,” she said. Ask: “What are we doing to demotivate you and how can we stop it?” and “What can we do to keep you motivated?”

Few talk to employees

“Fewer than 25 percent of managers actually go out and talk to their employees about what motivates them and what demotivates them,” Murphy said.

And don’t assume it’s about money. When someone quits a job, 89 percent of managers assume it was over money, whereas 91 percent of the workers who quit say it was anything but, Murphy said.

“There isn’t one thing that demotivates employees, because it’s going to be different for every single employee,” Murphy said.

Bottom-line effect

Peter Rea, who teaches entrepreneurial studies at Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio, was not familiar with the Leadership IQ survey, but said it reminded him of a Gallup study on how much engaged employees affect the bottom line.

In a typical organization, 28 percent of employees are highly engaged.

“These are the people for whom it’s a career and not a job,” he said. “They’re the heart and soul of your company.”

Fifty-five percent of workers are less engaged. “For them, it’s a job, not a career,” he said.

The remaining 17 percent are not only disengaged; they are “actually working against the goals of the enterprise,” he said.

It’s not necessarily (in my case) a complete lack of motivation or engagement toward the current situation…and, it isn’t necessarily because of poor management either. But, I don’t want ever to become the person who quits reaching for the brass ring.

So, while ‘looking’ for the next deal, I may not be giving it my all…my undivided attention. But, that doesn’t mean I’m loafing. It just means I’m pacing myself…

I was having lunch with a friend recently and we got on the subject of my ongoing job search. He asked me the following question:

“Hypothetically, if they were to give you a raise, would you stay?”

I said, “That depends. While it may seem trite to say I don’t do what I do just for the money, it is true. I do have this idealistic viewpoint that a job should also be fulfilling. And, at present, the job is not fulfilling. But, it also depends on the size of the raise. I’m not a complete idealist.”

He laughed and told me I was full of baloney. And, I told him he was probably right, and then asked him for what he thought the answer to the question was.

He said, “A company that gives a raise in today’s world is trying to do the right thing. The gesture should inspire loyalty from the employee.”

I responded, “I am way too cynical to buy into that. I have been used up and spit out by companies that could care less how much loyalty I showed. Why should I sell myself short just because I got a raise that was most definitely already long overdue?”

I continued, “The HR wisdom of companies today is that ‘Raises are a reward for performance, while promotions occur because of potential.’ But, what if promotions are given without a corresponding increase in compensation? Who in their right mind would take a promotion, with the understanding/implication that it meant you were going places, but do so at the same salary? No one. But, this is how companies operate. They assume you’ll be so happy with the promotion, they can get chintzy with you on the raise. So, in truth, any promotion resulting from future potential should be linked together with a raise rewarding performance to that point. This baloney about ‘the money catching up to you’ is untrue.”

“Now, people who do good work but are not up for promotions should also get raises. But, that is a different situation than the first one.”

My friend smiled and slyly said, “So, hypothetically speaking, if they were to promote you AND give you more money would you stay?”

“Absolutely…but, it’s not because of loyalty…I told you I’m not a complete idealist.”

I have mentioned this before…but, a) I thought it was worth mentioning again and b) I am currently light on new ‘material’ for which I can expound/pontificate/bloviate.

So, what is the point of the automatic email response from an online job application??

Seriously, it is a complete waste of time/effort, in my opinion. Is it meant to dissuade? Is it meant to placate? Is it meant to befuddle? Is it meant to show how technologically savvy said company is and inspire the candidate to sit idly by and wait for more instructions? Will the message self-destruct after 10 seconds?

What is it good for?

From the latest application…

Thank you for your interest in BLANK company. We appreciate the opportunity to review your resume for the position of BLANK job in BLANK city as posted on our website.

We are fortunate to receive many resumes for candidates with a variety of qualifications and take the time to review each resume carefully as to select the strongest candidates. Your resume has been forwarded to the appropriate hiring manager for review. If your background and experience is a fit with the requirements of the position, you will be contacted for an interview.

We will maintain a copy of your resume on file for the period of one year in the event a suitable opportunity should arise. Best wishes in your job search, and thank you again for your interest in our firm.

Sincerely,

BLANK BLANK
Vice-President,
Director of Human Resources

Well, OK then. THAT is sure good to know. An email from the Vice President. WOW! I sure do feel great and excited about my potential prospects at that company. I just know I will be contacted for an interview!!

Oh, but wait…the above message came to my email inbox exactly 10 nanoseconds after I clicked ‘submit’ on the BLANK company’s website. So, it’s machine-generated.

How very droll.

(As an aside, the job search exercise is not necessarily as a result of any dissatisfaction with the current position. I’m just looking for the next challenge…)

Then, a few minutes later, I got another email…

Dear BLANK:

Thank you for your interest in BLANK company.

We have received your resume in response to our recent job posting for the position of BLANK (BLANK city) . The posting has generated an enormous response from interested candidates. We are reviewing resumes and will contact candidates whose background and experience most closely fit the needs of the position.

A copy of your resume will remain on file and active for the period of one year. We appreciate your interest and wish you well in your job search.

Regards,

Blank Blank
Human Resource,
Administrative Assistant

How very exciting!! I received TWO (automatically generated) emails. This is definitely good news!!! I’m so stoked…

Of course both emails say the same thing. (And, what’s this business about being saved for a year? In a year I will probably have no interest in working for this place. In a year I will have found something else. If I’m still “looking” in a year, somebody shoot me. Saving my resume for a year in the (trash) file is just HR babble.) And, both give the corporate baloney speak about “thanks” and “experience” and “interest” and “best regards”. And, that the second one is from the Administrative Assistant shows the true level of “reviewing” that will be done. I guarantee the VP told the Admin to wade through the “enormous” number of responses and weed out the junk. So, maybe the second one wasn’t automatic. Maybe he/she actually did send the email. And, maybe he/she actually reviewed my resume and application. But, it’s no comfort knowing the Admin is potentially responsible for hiring decisions…

So, in the end, what is the point of an automatically generated email?

Well, if it says, “hey jamoke, we got your application. chill out for a spell. we might call you.”…then I would be ok with it. But, if it says what the two emails say above, which is basically just HR email diarrhea, then no thanks. I don’t need that kind of disingenuous assurance.

Dear BLANK,

Thank you for applying to 8446BR: Marketing Manager. We appreciate your interest in BLANK COMPANY. We have reviewed your resume and are unfortunately pursuing other local candidates whose experience and skill set more closely match those outlined in the job description.

We encourage you to enable the search agent feature in the careers section of our website, if you haven’t already done so, in order to receive an email whenever we post a new position in your field of expertise.

Sincerely,

BLANK COMPANY Resourcing