This was the final opportunity for the company to assess me and determine if they would make an offer.
I was already working for a very solid company, but since that company would soon be moving to Texas, I elected to put myself out there and see if there were any new, promising job opportunities in California. The job search was exhausting, but I made a commitment to myself and my husband that I would do my due diligence and see if I could find a new professional home to keep our family in the state.
As I went through the job-search journey, I elected not to blog about it. I felt it was too risky to share what I was doing since I didn’t want my current employer at the time to find out. But boy did I want to vent. Looking for work, the calls with HR, the introductions to hiring managers and the in-person meetings felt like the equivalent to dating.
Will he call? Do they like me? Do I like them? Why aren’t they calling? Ugh, she was nothing like I expected.
Not to mention when I did get that initial call from a recruiter, they wanted to me to strip myself naked on the first date. What are you making now? What do you want to make? Tell us all of your juicy compensation details.
Geez, we haven’t even met in-person yet. Can we slow it down a bit to see if we will like one another?
So, when I made it to the final round with this particular company a year ago, I felt vested and so desperately wanted the crazy job search to end. I wanted to say yes to an offer. I wanted to be on my way to the next company. I wanted to stop dating and settle down.
But … it’s never that simple.
As I lunched with that hiring vice president on a rainy afternoon, I got a weird feeling in my gut. She talked about her work hours, how she expects her entire team to be in the office by 8 a.m. and stay until 5 p.m., how she was divorced and her only son was attending college out-of-state. She rambled about her commitment to career and ultra-high expectations and philosophy around team. She checked her mobile frequently. She mentioned she would be trying to get out of the office by 6 p.m. that evening to make an event, but noted that she typically stayed until 10 p.m.
After lunch, I chatted with a few of her direct reports and talked about the corporate culture. I genuinely liked many of the people I met with that day, and as it turns out, they liked me too.
The recruiter called me on my drive home, and an offer was presented the next day.
Yes, I had gotten so far in the process, and I didn’t want to keep looking for that next company, but as I “dated” my potential future boss, I realized we were not a match.
I don’t mind long hours or going into the office every day, but I quickly picked up on this hiring manager’s lack of flexibility, and frankly her lack of “life” outside of her career.
I was fortunate in that I was seeking new career opportunities while holding down a job, so my family was not desperate for me to find work immediately. There was no need to rush into my next relationship, so I approached each interview as a chance to size up the company as well.
After I declined, I was back in the dating pool for five more months before I found my match. It felt like the journey took forever, but today I am happy with my decision. I love the team I work with, and my boss. I feel empowered to do great work, test out new tactics and be creative. I feel valued and have fun in the office.
I didn’t settle. I listened to my gut. And I especially learned I needed to be patient to find the right position for me. Who knows how long I’ll be with this particular boss – she could always seek new opportunities herself – or with this new company. Given my age, I’ll likely put myself back in the “dating” game again someday. But when I do, I hope I’ll trust my gut and recognize I deserve to find a right fit for me. It may often feel like the company is holding all of the cards, but I hold the power too.
If you find yourself job searching in 2016, remember the professional dating game can suck, but hold strong and stick to your values. It will come together, and when it feels right, you’ll know.