Joe didn’t leave his last job under the best of circumstances. Ok, he was fired. His company was going through hard times and was on the verge of major layoffs. Plus, Joe had recently floated the (unpopular, it turned out) idea of his moving to Michigan and working remotely. When some critical words he spoke about his boss, Katherine, got back to her, that was all she needed. Bye bye, Joe.
Joe works in a specialized sector of IT in the Midwest. It’s a pretty small world. He was concerned that, although he had great skills and a stellar track record, anyone considering him for a job would ultimately find their way to Katherine for her take on Joe. And he was rightfully worried that the wrong word from her could sabotage his chances at finding anything new.
But maybe Katherine would take the (legal) high road and not say anything disparaging. Or maybe his potential employers wouldn’t track her down.
Joe’s not a man to leave such things up to fate.
“I want to meet with her and try to patch things up. I can’t have her talking badly about me,” he said.
“Great idea. And face-to-face is always most effective,” I said. “So where is she?”
“In Columbus. 5 1/2 hours away.”
He sent her an email. She was open to the idea. Good sign. They set a date for the meeting.
“Before you go,” I said, “let’s set some goals.” I always advise clients to enter a negotiation knowing two things: 1) your best case scenario–the best possible outcome; and 2) the minimum you’d be ok walking away with. If #1 doesn’t work, there’s still a victory to be gained in #2.
“Ok,” Joe said, “Best possible outcome–when asked, she says great things about my work, says we were sorry to have to let him go, and tells them the reason they did was because I was moving to Michigan and they really needed me in headquarters at the time.”
“Great. And the minimum?”
“Minimum would be the standard line they’re supposed to toe. I worked there, had this title, don’t work there anymore. And she says nothing bad about me.”
And off he went. Eleven hours round trip in full Midwest winter. Then I got a call.
“I got the best!” he said. “She really appreciated my effort in coming down. We had a real heart to heart. I apologized for what I’d said in the meeting. She said it was tough for her, but thought her decision was best for the company. She really does wish the best for me going forward. When I asked her if she’d say good things about me and my work, if asked, she said ‘yes, absolutely.’ It feels great. Like a big burden has been lifted.”
And it had. Job search is fraught with enough anxieties. The more of them you can take off the table, the more confidently you’ll move forward. And a bold move like Joe’s may be just the boost you need.
- In difficult conversations, face-to-face gives you the best chance to break through and achieve your goals.
- If you did something wrong–apologize. Own your mistakes.
- Know what you want before going in–best case scenario, and minimum for victory.
4. Be bold.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done in job search? Please share below!
Feel free to forward to a friend. If there’s anything I can do to help you reach your career goals, please contact me:
Larry Braman / Larry’s email / 213.300.9887
(c) 2016 Larry Braman, President, Global Career Consulting & Placement