Control Part Two

When you are out of work, control isn’t something you generally feel.  But when you’re looking for work, you have more control than you may think!  There are many aspects to the job search where you, the job seeker, are in control.  And while you may need to exercise caution and respect exerting that control, there are times when the power is in your hands, and I’m here to encourage you to use this control to your fullest advantage.
One area that job seekers forget they can exhibit a bit more control is over the timing of your interview appointments.  Don’t be intimidated to accept the first time slot the scheduler offers you.  If you know you are not at your best at 8:30 on a Monday, don’t accept that as a time to meet with a prospective employer. Suggest an alternate time that works better for you.  Better still, offer your availability for multiple time slots to demonstrate that you are very interested in attending that interview. But be careful not to be too contrary.  Don’t say, “That time won’t work for me” more than once, or both your credibility and interest in employment with that company will be questioned. Be respectful and sensitive to the interviewer’s needs to manage her time, but be honest with yourself about what works best for you.
You also have control over the timing of preliminary phone conversations.  If an employer or recruiter calls you at an inopportune time, don’t hesitate to ask if you can call them back in a few minutes when the environment is more within your control.  You don’t want to take a call from a prospective employer when you’re in a noisy or crowded space with no privacy.  At the very least, excuse yourself temporarily from your surroundings and find a quieter place where you can think and talk clearly.  And if that’s not possible, ask the employer if you can schedule a call-back at a time that works better for you.  Just don’t put it off too long!
Do you want to personally connect with a decision maker at a particular company? Of course you do!  But don’t just wait for your resume to be seen, or your phone calls to be returned.  Put yourself in control by doing all the research it takes to uncover that person’s name, then find out where you can meet this person face to face.  Not stalking!  But maybe you can find out what kind of events they attend (industry related or not!), or find out their favorite watering hole.  Be respectful and polite, but take control to put yourself in front of that person and introduce yourself.
You are in control of where you apply for work, and the impressions you make on the recruiters, HR personnel, employers and potential coworkers.  Treat them all with respect, be attentive to what they say, and get the most from your interactions, including acquiring direct contact and social/professional networking information.  You are in control and responsible for building the connections and broadening your network.
And your online profiles and social networking presence are also within your control! You are responsible for keeping them up-to-date, and accurately reflective of your experience, learning, skills, and contacts.  If there is something visible to others that even vaguely creates questions for a prospective employer, you are in control of removing that content.  Do any of your friends have pictures of you on their pages that might reflect poorly on your professional image?  If so, un-tag yourself, or ask your friends to remove those images.  This puts you in control to un-friend anyone who refuses to honor your request!
Where you work is also within your control!  The decision to accept a job offer is firmly yours.  If, during an interview or other interaction with an employer, the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up warning you that something isn’t quite right, listen to your gut.  Yes, you may really want/need that job, but if you don’t believe the position is a good fit for you, take control, and politely thank the employer/interviewer for their time, and reject their offer.  Or take control and negotiate a situation that is more to your satisfaction.
No, we can’t control everything!  And finding the inner strength to exert control is harder for some than others.  It takes a certain amount of assertiveness to survive and thrive!  But if you do your homework, do some research, know your options, and know your rights, the quality of the career decisions you make will increase exponentially.  And you do want to control your career, right?
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