Originally published in International FamilyMagazine
Republished in Folks Magazine on 11/7/09.
I was working as a computer programmer at Rutgers University when I saw the perfect job advertised by American Airlines. It had everything that I wanted: interesting work, decent pay, and free travel everywhere American flew.
I sent a letter outlining my skills, and offered to write a resume if they found me interesting. They did not request a resume, but they did call me in for an interview. I thought that it went very well.
A month later, a “thanks but no thanks” letter arrived.
This was disappointing. I called Walter, the hiring manager and asked what was wrong, and why I didn’t get the offer. He said it was just a matter of competition; there was someone better.
I asked what I could have done to be better than the competition. He said it wasn’t likely there was anything I could have done. The person they hired came from the software vendor who had been servicing their account for years. He already knew their needs better than anyone else could have.
“So, why did you interview me?”
“Because the Human Resources department requires that we run an ad and interview three people before we make an offer.”
That made sense.
At the university, I wrote a computer column for a monthly newsletter. Every few weeks I would put out a document about some programming technique or software package.
I put Walter on the distribution list for all my publications. Then I forgot all about him.
Six months later he called me.
“I have a job for you.”
“There is only one thing.”
“Get me off that damn mailing list.”
“No problem. I can start in two weeks.”
“We can’t move that fast. It will take six weeks minimum.”
“We have to run and ad and interview three people. But the job is yours.”
If you don’t get what you want, don’t forget to ask why.