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It's wise to be assertive, even aggressive in your pursuing an opportunity. It's wise to not be afraid to talk with the head honcho. However, it's also wise to build your alliances with support staff.

Not too long ago, someone asked me for some advice on being reconsidered for an opportunity. The candidate said it just felt like the right fit. And even though the job seeker was rejected, they weren't alone. All of the interviewees were rejected and the Selection Committee must recommence their search.

The Aggressive Approach

My advice was to first research how one goes about reapplying for a position with that type of compay. My next recommendation was to contact the official who is in charge of interviewing and making the selection, then ask strategic questions about the qualities the successful candidate should have, discuss their own successes as well as their zeal for that type of work. Obviously, reapplying is part of the formula. That's the aggressive approach.

A More Passive Way

There are times when the more passive approach is better. It builds long-term relationships and garners overall popularity. You need to recognize that the support staff is an integral ingredient in your being accepted, in getting your application into the right hands, in learning the little-known information that a winner has. Many insiders will tell private stories of how they got their application accepted by a government-style employer because they treated the application examiner with respect. They were honest and straightforward about their efforts and the sincerity rang in their voices. The examiner had an opportunity to see some aspect of the first phase of approaching the company and realized the applicant had the right mix and was a runner. They just needed that edge, a few extra minutes or knowing that if they slipped the application under the door, they would be a "seeded" candidate.

A Sampling of the Players

The receptionist (or, at least the person who appears to be the receptionist) is another person to have on your side. Be agreeable with this person. When your call comes in, they have the power to make certain you get through or your message is answered.

The Messenger and Reproduction Departments are integral to helping get the project produced and delivered. If you seem arrogant and give the impression you're the only one who smells like a rose, these folks may have some other projects that are in front of yours and are of higher priority. These jobs may be the department To-Do list forms, the lunch pick-up, the table in the partner's office that needs to be moved before the end of the day.

Protocol and Deference

It isn't necessary to get chummy with these people. But do recognize that they are people, complete with families, goals and ambitions, reputations for their work product and discretion. They have dignity and deserve to be treated with it, just as you wish to be given respect. So a modest amount of conversation with these people is appropriate. A little convivial conversation is fine. If they appear to be having a bad day (or a not so good time at the moment), just give them space; leave them alone after doing the basic formalities of getting in the door. They will appreciate the fact that you were not pushy or overbearing.

The support staff is the allied forces in career maneuvers. Treat them as such at all times. These are many times the people who know who should get the inside word about the best candidate -- and they'll pass the word along so that it reaches the right ears.

Once you're in, you allies are not history. Instead, they are part of the army of colleagues you're building; they're part of your very important network. Continue to have time to talk with them, learn about what's happening with them and to them. Share advice when it seems desired and be certain to listen to theirs.

Big Isn't Necessarily "The Answer"

In the job search and in the career, there are actually no big fish and minnows. There are, well I guess you'd call them "members" in the camp. Each one has their duties, duties that they are expected to execute with expertise, precision, and insightfulness. To the extent they stretch to learn about the work of some of their colleagues, they become even more trusted allies and indispensible members of the team because they have diversified and have reach. And with that reach is greater knowledge of the best contacts and how to access them.

You're only as great as your network is powerful. And your network is constituted of not only the executives but also the very essential support staff. While one route to getting in is going directly to the official, there is another way. That way is gain the insider information you need through the back scenes allies.

Dell Home Systems, Inc.


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