Q: A recruiting firm caught me by surprise the other day. The caller said she’d been referred to me by a colleague, whose name she mentioned, and that her source thought I’d be a good person for a job.
I asked for as many details as possible as long I was out of earshot of everyone else. I wasn’t sold, but I thought it at least worth an interview.
The interview was a good experience, but I definitely am not the person for the job. Before leaving her office, I let the recruiter know that I’m not the fit she needs. What can I do to maintain communication?
A: The best thing you can do is dig up some referrals for the recruiter. You’ll be remembered. Send a brief thank-you note if you haven’t already, hard copy preferred. (Otherwise, you might get lost in a bank of emails.) Call the recruiter with your suggestions and ask how often to check in.
Meanwhile, feed her articles you think might be of interest, with names of people highlighted, and keep updating your resume. Send links if you’ve appeared in the media.
Q: I’ve been doing extremely technical work and I want to become a manager in another company. However, I’m having problems explaining what I do to potential employers. How do I do this so I can sell myself better?
A: You’ve actually asked two questions in one. The answer to the first one is simpler than you think.
Find a child and explain your work. You’ll automatically simplify your concepts and vocabulary while you’re slowing down. Be alert to a confused look and respond immediately. If you stumble in your first foray, try again with another child.
Spend more time thinking about how to indicate you have managerial potential. Identify managerial issues behind the work you’ve done. How did you motivate people? What did you do to help people with difficulties? What creative ideas you suggested moved projects along? Did you increase efficiency and, if so, how much? Did you cut budgets and schedules? How did you communicate with people in other departments? Did you supervise anyone? Think about anything else you did that pulls you out of the rank and file. Do the same with volunteer work.