Winter was long and cold across much of the country, and for many people it was an extremely challenging period with regard to work, careers and job search. The news about the economy and job market continued to be negative and cynical throughout the season. But now, it’s April. Spring has finally arrived, and many aspects of our world seems to be lightening-up.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to offer something quite different in this article – a bit of levity! I hope you’ll enjoy the work-related stories below (true stories which are drawn from my own career experience), and that they’ll put a smile on your face. If you keep smiling, I’m sure you’ll produce better job search and career management results!
I had a mid-level management client who was just starting to interview for new opportunities. She learned about a great job and was excited to get her first interview, which was with a large, prestigious pharmaceutical company. She arrived on time, and was fully prepared. The office was beautiful, and the nice receptionist led her into the office of the executive who was going to interview her. The man wasn’t at his desk, so she waited. Within a few minutes, the interviewer arrived and began the dialogue. He was pleasant and professional in every way but one. He wasn’t wearing any shoes or socks! To make matters worse, the executive put his feet up on his desk, right in my client’s line of vision. She was obviously mortified, and didn’t know what to do or say under the circumstances. While this experience was quite upsetting at the time, she and I shared a big laugh at our next career coaching session!
I worked with another client who was in the marketing communications field. After several months of working together, and navigating through many unsuccessful interviews, my client landed a wonderful job for a global marketing consulting firm. He was very excited, and even said that “This was the best job he ever had.” In fact, he is still with that company and doing fine! The funny part, however, is that after he had already been working at this company for about three weeks, he received a phone call from the Human Resources department. They asked him “who he was and what he was doing there!” Naturally, he thought it was a joke – but quickly realized that it was NO joke. The fact was that, somehow, the company’s Human Resources department had no record of my client being interviewed or hired, and they also had no idea what he was doing there or what his job was supposed to be! It took a few days to work everything out, but the issue was eventually resolved.
When I was working at a global career services firm in a senior consulting role, I was charged with the responsibility of recruiting and hiring a new career consultant for our team. I interviewed several candidates, and invited two finalists back for follow-up interviews. As part of the hiring process, the Regional VP asked to see both candidates do a business presentation. This was a reasonable request, since a large part of this job was to serve as a Trainer and Seminar Leader. The senior staff gathered in the conference room to observe the two candidates. The first presentation went fairly well, but the candidate was not as engaging or dynamic as we had hoped. The second candidate, who was actually my “favorite,” did an outstanding job! His presentation was highly professional, polished, and exciting. There was just one problem. About ¾ of the way through his talk, he suddenly got a severe case of the hiccoughs. He was hi ccoughing loudly and constantly, and he simply could not stop. At first, this was extremely embarrassing for him and uncomfortable for the rest of us. But then, we all started laughing hysterically! By the way – yes, he did get the job (even though he never completed his presentation)!
When I was in charge of business development for a training and consulting company, I invited an out-of-town prospect to visit our facility and meet the management team. Our offices were extremely impressive, so this had always been an effective means of closing new business for my firm. I sent my assistant to pick-up this gentleman at the airport. Naturally, I provided her with the prospect’s name and physical description. She arrived on time and waited at the gate to greet our prospect. When she saw a man who fit the description, she called-out his first name: Richard. He turned, smiled, and walked toward her to shake her hand. The two of them gathered his luggage, and headed to the garage. My assistant later told me that they’d had a lovely conversation all the way back to the office – until the man mentioned that he was “looking forward to upgrading our company’s software systems today.” At first, she thought he w as just being funny. But when he started going into great detail about the “installation and software programming,” she realized that something wasn’t right. As the car approached our office building, my assistant asked, “Your name is Richard, right?” He responded, “Yes, of course.” She continued, “Richard Evans – here to consider buying our training and consulting services, right?” He responded, “No, Richard Harrison, here to install a complete software system!” Needless to say, it was a long drive back to the airport.