Candidate in Waiting


Donald Asher is the author of “Cracking the Hidden Job Market.” The book is full of common sense tips for finding a job, combined with innovative ideas on what it takes to become employed. One of Asher’s good ideas is a new take on the informational interview.

The informational interview is a networking meeting that simply requests information from your contact: advice on your resume, information about an occupation, a company, or an industry. It’s used when you need more information or guidance on your career transition, and as a jobseeker, you make it clear to your contact that you are not seeking a job offer from him or her.

The informational interview is a mature technique (that ‘s a nice way of saying “old;” everyone’s heard of it and used it.) Asher’s fresh technique was to call a meeting to become a “candidate in waiting.” Asher says that smart managers know that they must be ready to replace key talent at a moment’s notice. People move, have emergencies, and get promoted all the time. It’s good policy to have a network of candidates in waiting who you’ve met, vetted, and know are interested in your company.

Asking for a meeting with the understanding that nothing is available right now takes pressure off both parties. Asher’s suggested script goes something like this: “I understand that you’re not hiring right now. I hope we can meet for a few minutes, anyway, to discuss some ideas I have about how I might contribute to (INSERT CHALLENGE, TEAM, OR PROJECT HERE.) That way, if things change and you are ready to hire, you’ll think of me first. I’ll be in and out of your office in 15 or 20 minutes, and we’ll both know if there’s any chemistry for the future.” The beauty of this pitch is that it works best in small, smart and nimble organizations – just the kind you should be targeting. You may also walk out with an opportunity to demonstrate your skills through a consulting project or contract work. Your contact may know others who are ready to hire, and may be happy to do her network a favor by recommending a candidate she’s met and feels confident about.

As the job market improves, more candidates will be entering the market. They’ll be joined by the thousands of workers who say they’re dissatisfied with their jobs and ready to look for new opportunities. You’ll need a bold and confident plan to stand out from the crowd and be a manager’s candidate in waiting.

Has this technique worked for you? Let me know by emailing me with your story.

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