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Job Seeker: You are in the driver’s seat.

I see a lot of articles about how job seekers can give themselves an edge in the job search process. Heck, I’ve written a few. Every job seeker appreciates pointers and tips. What I don’t like about these articles is the imbalance of power between the potential employer and the potential employee in the job search process. Everything suggested is always geared around impressing the employer. Sure they have the power to change your life in dramatic ways by offering you a job, but does an employer ever need to impress you, the job seeker? In other words, is the balance of power ever in your favor as a job seeker?

There is a Reason They are Called Red Flags
I am reminded of a conversation I had with a former colleague of mine a year after he was hired. He remembered noticing a note on his boss’ computer monitor that said, “Be nice to someone today,” while he was interviewing. My colleague said it should’ve been a red flag to him because anyone who needs to be reminded to be nice to someone is probably someone who is going to cause or create interpersonal friction for his team. Truer words were never spoken. His boss’ interpersonal skills were challenging and made for a sometimes unpleasant work environment for those whose values did not match his.

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My colleague’s observation was astute. Pay attention to red flags throughout the interview process. The potential employer has as much of a burden to impress you as you do them. Leave the rose colored glasses at home. I know you need a job. I know you want out of your current situation. I know you’ve waited six months for this great opportunity. Trust me, another one will come up that is a good fit.

Cultural Fit is Important for the Employee Too
Hiring is as much about a cultural fit for the employer as it is for the employee. Is the employer a good cultural fit for you? No amount of prestige of working for a recognized and acclaimed company is worth sacrificing your psychological peace, compromising your principles or worse yet becoming the person to whom everyone else voices their complaints. That is why it is important that you pay attention to how you’re treated in the interview process.

You’re putting your best foot forward in the interview process. Likewise, the company and its hiring representatives are on their best behavior during the interview process. Notice how they talk to the support staff. Notice what they say about others or if their tone changes when talking about others who aren’t in the room. Are your interviewers prepared and genuinely interested in what you’ve done or are they frazzled and cursorily interested? Do people return your phone calls and/or emails promptly? Do they leave you hanging? Is the office so quiet you could hear a pin drop? This is not good if you’re an extrovert. Do people seem engaged with each other as you walk around on your way to and from the interviews or as you get your tour(s)? What jokes are told or what direction does conversation take once everyone is comfortable with each other? This is all behavior that is predictive of future treatment and perhaps symptomatic of a company that doesn’t value their team.

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What’s Your Deal Breaker?
Bottom line – everyone has to establish their deal breakers in the interview process. It is my hope you have a couple and that you value yourself enough to be choosy in the job search and land where you’ll be the most fulfilled professionally.

The best is yet to come,
Michelle

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