Here’s a story to illustrate my advice. After I received an M.B.A. from the University of Connecticut, I was hired by Burroughs Business Systems, which ultimately became Unisys. I left in a little less than a year because I was not enthusiastic about what the company provided, my role and my long-term prospects.
I didn’t have a job when I left but felt confident I could find something easily. After all, I’d been hired right out of graduate school. I didn’t understand then that it’s unwise to leave a salaried position unless you have another one lined up.
From desperation to despair
Six months and 300 resumes later, I was gloomy. I had a few interviews here and there, but no real prospects for months. And it was expensive to job hunt before the Internet existed. Finally, a prospect emerged, at a six-person consulting firm. It was perfect.
The company was only a mile from my house. I interviewed with the company president and thought it went exceedingly well. By all indications, I felt he’d call within the week to make an offer.
When that first week passed, I was a bit disheartened but still confident because the interview had gone so well. Then another week passed. I was running low on funds, had no other prospects and was nearly out of options.
Shut out and shivering
On a Friday afternoon, as the third week was about to pass, I was lying on my bed staring at the ceiling. It was December, shivering cold and completely gray with a constant downpour. My father, a junior high school vice principal, called me after the school day, eager for news.
“No word,” I said, “and it’s been three weeks, so I think this is a lost cause.”
He told me, in his characteristic way, that if I hadn’t heard “no” the possibility was still open. Then, ever the encourager, he suggested I get dressed and visit the company that afternoon.
Fortified, I showered, put on my best suit and drove that one mile. It was 4:30 and still raining.
I took the elevator to the third floor, opened the door and saw the receptionist, who remembered me. I asked to see the company president. “Do you have an appointment?,” she asked. I didn’t. “Is he expecting you?” He wasn’t.
“OK,” she said, “let me see if he has a few minutes.” She was on the phone briefly and then said, “Have a seat, he’ll be out in a few minutes.” I sat in the only visitor’s chair in this tiny reception room worrying. “Is he going to think I’m some kind of idiot for showing up unannounced on a day like this?”
Within a minute, he invited me into his office. We spoke for a while and the conversation went just as well as before. He told me he’d been on the fence for two reasons: He was waiting to land a large contract and he’d never hired anyone as young as I was. He also said he admired my tenacity for returning to his office in a rainstorm.
You could hear that everyone else had gone home for the weekend, and when I left the office, I was aglow. I was hired that afternoon.
Encouragement is priceless
People in our lives can help mitigate our self-doubt. I went from six months of personal, professional and financial anguish to landing my ideal long-term job in the span of 90 minutes because of my father’s words.
What encouragement can you offer right now to your meeting planning staff? Try it and prepare to see big returns.
Join the conversation. When have you been encouraged or discouraged by the words of co-workers and supervisors?