Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Job Interview - No Resume

I was thinking today about a job interview in Denver more than 20 years ago, and it seems like just yesterday. I was coaching someone on job-finding skills and motivation and recalled this story.

I had stayed in Denver about five years too long in the early 1980s. The job market had been terrible. Oil, real estate, agriculture - you name it. In the pits! One Sunday I read a classified ad for a job and thought, "That's me!" But I wasn't so naive that I thought it might be a real job. Most job-seekers know that the classified ads - the Want Ads - are the #1 Worst Place to look for a job.

I called first thing Monday morning and set up an appointment for 1:00PM. Lucky me; right? I arrived about 12:45PM, and the hiring guy was out to lunch. Literally. I quickly saw that it was a legitimate operation. I was in the regional office of a large investment banking firm with headquarters in Kansas City. What? A real job? Good thing I had worn my best suit!

At about 12:55PM the VP breezed in, greeted me and asked me to follow him into his office. As he passed through his doorway, he held his hand back and asked for my resume.

"I didn't bring one," I said.

He stopped in his tracks and turned around. "You didn't bring a resume? Why not?"

"I don't know if I want the job. Five minutes from now I'll know if I want the job and you'll know if you want to see a resume."

Ninety minutes later he looked at his watch and exclaimed that he had other business to get done and asked me to bring him a resume. That afternoon I prepared six pages of reasons he ought to hire me, and I delivered the packet the next morning.

I met with him again and we talked about the job in more detail. I really wanted it and asked him to hire me on the spot. He told me he had promised the home office that he'd interview for two weeks. I agreed with him that he should be honest with the home office, so I suggested he hire me that day and then interview for two weeks, at the end of which he could inform his superior that he had found the right guy! That would take the pressure off of him. Pretty creative, eh?

It turned out that the funding for the position was never approved. He had run the ad to test out the marketplace for candidates. That reminded me of the pecking order in corporations.

Not like another VP I met in Phoenix in 1989. She hired me and then introduced me to consulting firm's president as their new employee. Later she privately told me that the president was more than a little upset that she hadn't first "presented" me for his okay. But that's a story for another day.


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