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Don't close off job options prematurely

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Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Yes, there is one more thing to learn from the recent elections, and it is this: Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Of course if you're running for president of the United States, it's all or nothing. And putting all your energy and resources into getting the one and only job you want can't be helped.

But for most of us, it is not necessary nor wise to place all hope into getting one particular job. If you do, you may be setting yourself up for one whopper of a letdown.

Unfortunately, most people do the opposite. Folks from all types of professions and at all levels make the mistake of putting their all into one opportunity. Take the senior executive who had an interview with an international firm to run its American operation. On paper, the job fit him perfectly. So perfect was his background and skills for the role, he couldn't picture the company considering anyone but him and he couldn't envision doing any other job.

“It's a no-brainer,” he told me. I begged him: “Please keep in contact with others. Keep other leads alive. Pursue other openings.”

The executive did get an interview for the job he desired. And it came down to him and one other person. But then the criteria for the job changed. The company put the position on hold for months. It's still in limbo. The executive was devastated.

He was so sure he'd get the job, he had not followed up on other leads and now he was back to square one. It took him weeks to get back into the swing of his job-hunting campaign.

For a politician who has been defeated, it's even worse. They suffer an emotional letdown similar to grief, say experts. Referencing Mitt Romney's loss for the job of United States president, Kirk Jowers, a Romney friend, said in a recent New York Times article: ‘”He will be sifting through this for quite a while. The question is when the sifting takes a couple of hours a day instead of being all-consuming.”

Steve Schmidt, a campaign adviser to Sen. John McCain in 2008, warned, ‘”Losing a presidential campaign is something you never get over. The question is whether you can move forward without bitterness or rancor.'”

Whether you are completely focused on getting a new job or not, you always want to keep the relationship-building momentum going. And if all your energy is going into finding a new job, make sure it's not spent on just one potential opportunity.

You may have had a good-as-good-can-be interview, and it may feel like a sure thing. But here's what could be going on that would deter you from being a shoo-in:

• Your biggest cheerleader might leave the company.

• The company may put the position on hold or eliminate it.

• The company could be evaluating other candidates for months to come.

• An unforeseen external or internal change could change the criteria for the job.

• You may have stiff competition.

While Romney may have other opportunities awaiting him, the rest of us have to keep up the hard work. Even if you think a job is in the bag, keep moving forward as if it may never happen.

Because it just might not.


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