Break the Hiring Manager's Rules and Make Your Own

I was overwhelmed by the response to the article “How Successful Candidates Steal Job Interviews.” It seems that many job-seekers are searching out ways to get an edge in this difficult job market, and my advice to get bold resonated with them. More than 72,000 people read the article and more than 120 took time to leave a comment.

I suggested that job seekers stop applying to every posting they see, and instead zero in on the companies where they would like to work. This reader agreed:

I love the term ‘get small!’ When I tell career coaching clients to get more focused on the jobs they are applying for and send fewer resumes, I am met with major hesitation. Great tips for standing out as an applicant.

However, several readers took me to task for daring to suggest that job-seekers rebel and break some of the rules that hiring managers come up with, like no follow-up phone calls.

Don’t break the rules, but don’t let the prospect employer drive the whole agenda either. Be polite, be optimistic, follow the process. But there is no employment contract until there’s an employment contract.

One comment in particular made me pause and think deeply about the entire process of looking for a job. This reader has a strong belief about hiring — that I do not agree with.

Breaking the rules? That depends on the company and their HR person / hiring manager. If I were interviewing you, and you ‘broke’ my rules… you certainly would not get the job!

That may very well be true at some companies. If you break their rules, the consequence may be that you do not get the job.

So be it.

Guess what? They probably would not have hired you anyways. That’s right — you will not work for them, and you will likely be better off for it. If they had hired you, you would have discovered more unpleasantness later on and wished you had taken a few more chances when you were sending out resumes.

It is time that job seekers take control of their future rather than leaving it to chance.

I’ll go further and say that not only is it okay to break some of the rules, you should start making some of your own to guide your job search.

Here are three good ones to start with:

Keep your self-respect
You would think that a company would be on its best behavior when looking for new hires. But if something seems rotten about the company when you meet them face-to-face, trust your instincts. If the hiring managers are not treating you well during the interview process, or are always late, how do you think they will treat you after you are hired? Sometimes it is best to say, “thanks but no thanks.”

Start being choosy
If you are a strong candidate, you certainly do not have to apply for every job you see. And you do not have to take the first offer you receive. Now, it is true that you may not be in a position where you can afford to be choosy — especially if you have been out of work and there is a stack of bills waiting to be paid on your desk. But even if you have to take a temporary job to tide you over, be particular. Keep searching for the right job that will best use your skills and make you happy.

Play it smart
You have always done the polite thing. That is why you are afraid that it will be rude to entertain other offers because you are certain that a job offer is imminent. However, do not turn away a good job lead just because you may be close to getting an offer. This is the time to be a little selfish. Why? Anything can happen. Companies can even withdraw their offer at the last moment, or decide to not hire anyone at all. When you are looking for a job, you have to look out for yourself.

When you are job hunting, you may think you are at a major disadvantage. You may believe you have to play by the employer’s rules every time. But some rules are just begging to be broken, especially the ones that are nonsensical.

You deserve to have some rules of your own to lead you in your job search — rules that help you land the right job and keep your self-confidence intact. Establish some rules of your own and help employers see the unique you and what you are really capable of achieving.

What other hiring “rules” are made to be broken?

About Brian and Aha!

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product roadmap and marketing planning software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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