The Quest: Priorities by Search Stage

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I am now at a point in my search where I am close to an opportunity that I find interesting and that I like as a career path. As I approach this stage, I realize that my daily activities and priorities need to gradually change emphasis.

With a desirable job opportunity in sight, my reaction has been to gradually drop the "business development" component of my search - activities such as networking meetings or identifying new leads. Instead, my task is to review any other pending interview process to see if I can somehow advance these alternative job opportunities into yielding an offer around the same time as the one employer that I perceive is close to making a decision. Managing this timing is extremely difficult, and I would say that it is more an art than a science.

In doing so, my decisions are dictated by my feelings about the particular characteristics of each job. In one instance, I would disclose to a potential employer that I may be close to an opportunity and that they may want to pick up the pace of their interview process if they are really interested in me as a candidate. In other cases, I feel it is just better to leave the situation alone, because forcing a timeline could hamper any opportunity with that firm. That's a risk I don't want to take, because something still could go wrong with the job opportunity that is at a final stage. I experienced that a few years ago, when a prospective employer backed off after I tried to force the timing. The larger and more bureaucratic the company, the greater the chance they'll react that way.

Anticipating How to Respond to an Offer

Another new activity during the current stage of my search is striving to think through all the implications of accepting a job offer from a particular employer before I've actually received one. This is important, because on previous occasions I was always given an extremely short period to decide on an offer. In addition, sometimes I faced unusual clauses or requirements in the contract that ended up absorbing my entire focus in that final stage. Therefore, I am trying to sort out a big-picture framework for my decision before knowing all details of a potential job offer.

I feel that these activities are the best investment of my time at the moment. However, I am also ready to roll up my sleeves and re-fuel my business development activity should something go awry with this job opportunity that seems to be close to a decision point.

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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