When you’re in a job search, when the stakes are high, when your future hangs on getting the role dangling in front of you, you drop. You drop your confident stance, you drop your shoulders, you drop your aspirations. You might even drop to your knees and beg.
When you’re reaching up, that reflex kicks in, to drop to a smaller, more scared version of yourself. Just when the prize is in reach. I’ve seen myself do it, I’ve seen my kids do it and I’ve seen tough, experience, brilliant professionals do it. No one is immune from dropping.
Anka is one of my favourite clients and we still talk years after our core work on her career strategy. In that time, she’s held some high powered, high impact roles. Last week we had an email exchange which went like this:
- Anka: Good news! I just thought I’d let you know my CV is in front of the CEO of my top target company, with a recommendation from my ex-boss.
- Anka: This could be the one! I’ve just heard that they love my CV and want to see me. The CEO’s sending the CV around to her executive team.
- Anka: I thought I was supposed to meet him. I’ve called his EA 3 times. Should I send him an email? Or a phone call? Should I get my contact to call her?
- Me: Be the fish, not the bait.
You see, having your CV circulated amongst the key decision makers and getting great feedback means you’ve been doing your process right. You have credibility, and you’re the solution to someone’s problem. They need you – they need you more than you need them, no matter how desperate you may feel. And this is where if you forget you’re their target, their fish, you’ve lost your negotiating position.
It’s tough, I know. When you’ve been looking hard and finally the ideal role is sitting right in front of you, it’s tough not to leap at it. However, in recruitment, there are many imponderables. If you switch from being the fish they want, to behaving like bait, it changes the dynamic. It makes you look less confident. It tells them you’re willing to compromise to get the role. It makes you less attractive.
It can even ring an alarm bell – why is someone so good, so eager to jump? Has something gone wrong that we don’t know about? Is she not as good as we thought?
Justified confidence is powerful
Remember you are a big fish. If you want to make this more concrete, try calculating how much more value you’ll bring by comparison with the ‘next best’ candidate. Confidence based on evidence is powerful.
If anything, turn away from their bait. Keep up your strategic momentum. Now that you know there’s a great role available you can continue your search in a more relaxed mood, more alert to possibility and clear about what you want.
All the signs for Anka are good…. I’m keen to get her next email!