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Distinguish Yourself In A Positive Way III: After The Interview

Dec. 2, 2013

Over the past two weeks we've talked about how to distinguish yourself in a positive way during the job application process as well as the interview. This week we're going to examine what that looks like after the interview is over, when you're waiting to hear back, negotiating an offer, etc.

Let's start the day after the interview is over. You've done all you can do and it's all in the employer's hands now, right? Wrong! There are several things you can do to put even more distance between yourself and the other candidates:

  1. Say Thank You. I won't get too deep into the best way to do that here; our office goes over a lot of this in detail during OCI season and throughout the year. But whether it's an email, handwritten note or something else, it is critical you thank the people who took time out of their busy schedule to interview you for the position. Don't wait around to do this either; you never know when a decision may get made and you want to make sure the employer has been thanked before that happens.

  2. Ask A Reference To Make A Call. You may or may not have provided a list of references to the employer at this point. Regardless, unless you hear from one of those references that the employer called them, you won't know for sure they've heard from some of your biggest advocates. In fact, I often make it a point to call people not on a candidate's reference list because I they typically say good things about the candidate no matter what, and I want the cold truth! The point is, if you have a great reference from a professor or a former employer or perhaps most helpful, from someone who the employer knows, ask that reference if they would be willing to call the employer on your behalf.

  3. Stay In Touch. If the decision process drags on, which it can with many employers, stay in touch with them. Send an email congratulating them on a case they just won that was in the news, or just to reaffirm your interest in the job. This is a little thing but one that will help you stand out.

Let's say you've done these things and the employer has decided (wisely!) to make you an offer. How you handle the initial offer and the coming negotiation is still an opportunity for you to stand out negatively or positively. Here are some tips:

  1. Maintain Your Enthusiasm. In most cases the initial offer is not going to be all you hoped for and you're going to struggle with how to communicate that and at the same time not kill the deal. After all you want the job! So you need to prepare yourself that no matter the initial offer, you're going to be excited and enthusiastic that they chose you. You'll have an opportunity later (could be minutes, hours or days) to discuss any issues you have with the offer itself. But for now you want to work for them, are excited they chose you, and look forward to coming to an agreement that works for both you and the employer.

  2. Read My Salary Expectations Posts (I and II) And Apply. Nothing will make you stand out more negatively at this point than having no understanding of what the market is and what you're worth. Don't be that home owner who is trying to sell their $150k house for $250k because that's what they paid for it. The house (i.e. you), is worth what the market says. Having said that, don't get taken advantage of either. Know your value in the market, and respond to offers / make counteroffers accordingly.

  3. Ask For Time Respectfully. It is entirely appropriate to take a day or two (probably not much more than that but it depends on the situation) to think about the offer, visit with family, pray, whatever else you do when you make a big decision. What will make you stand out positively here is: a) that you ask and b) how you ask. Some candidates will simply state that they need some time. Better to politely ask permission. In most cases you'll get the time either way, but the latter approach comes across more grateful and less entitled. Remember they could snatch the offer away at any point, including while you're taking you're time to think about it. So don't give them a reason to!

If you look back over all three of the posts in this series, you might notice that no one tip seems like that big of a deal, and isolated they probably aren't. But if there's a candidate who doesn't submit everything the application asks for, shows up late and questionably dressed for the interview, and then is never heard from after the interview, what are the odds that person gets the job offer over someone who does the opposite? Highly unlikely. So put yourself in the best position to get the job by following these tips and distinguishing yourself in a positive way.

Connect with Daniel: and @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

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Director of Career Development
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