The Quest: Candidate Expectations

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As my search continues, I've become aware of an important quality difference between meetings or interviews that I obtain through networking, and those that result from contact with a recruiter or responding to a job posting.

With network-generated meetings, I'm always able to anticipate how the conversation will go and what I will get out of it. In contrast, when I interview through a recruiter or a job posting, my initial expectations are seldom confirmed.

When a meeting comes through a networking contact, I get more useful information ahead of time - informal information and insights on the company and its managers. That kind of information isn't there when a meeting comes about through a job posting.

For example, in late September I replied to a posting and was invited for an interview. In the course of that meeting I was happily surprised to discover the published description didn't do justice to the job - the resources available and the caliber of management made it more interesting than I had thought it would be going in.

Keep An Open Mind

This illustrates how information obtained during an interview, and the experience of meeting people at the company, may completely change my original perception of the job. At the time of the interview, I'm able to gain a three-dimensional perspective on the job, versus the black-and-white, sometimes biased picture communicated by reading the job description.

Having experienced this a number of times, I now look beyond the job description and try to force myself to be less selective when screening various job postings. Doing this also helps me keep my activity level high. If my objective is to have five meetings or interviews a week, I would choose to meet with a company to learn more about a job opening whose description didn't sound appealing enough, rather than let my activity level drop because of my biased expectations.

A job description can be changed during the hiring process to accommodate a candidate when a company is interested. And joining a company whose culture encourages employee growth and responsibilities may pay off more in the long run than joining a company that has an attractive opening but provides fewer opportunities for internal growth.

Finally, even if a meeting confirms my initial feeling that the job isn't a good fit, these new contacts can lead to referrals for other positions or introductions to other managers.

Maintaining an open mind and a high activity level are key factors in my job search. This is a prerequisite for me to stay motivated and move forward in a constructive way.

James Weldon (a pseudonym) is a portfolio manager. This column details his strategy and tactics in searching for a new job after he was let go by the hedge fund group at a bulge bracket investment bank in New York.

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