Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Invaluable Feedback

I want to share a story that will possibly change the job search game for me:-

Hitesh works at HP. Around April 2010, he showed me career story of someone from HP. Let's call this person - Photographer (well, because I checked out some of his photos, and they are amazing). His career story was fascinating!
He talked about a lot of things that I value - design-thinking, collaboration, diverse backgrounds, relentless curiosity, networking, leadership, cultures and opportunities to work in different parts of the worlds.

I asked Hitesh to introduce us. Believe me, you rarely get to encounter all these words in one career story; it was refreshing and I was intrigued by the story.

We got introduced, and agreed to speak on the phone. The first phone conversation fell through, and did not happen. We were finally able to speak over the phone for about 25 minutes. Usually, in my phone conversations, I thank the person for their time, and after a brief chit-chat, I dive into the purpose of the conversation.

During the conversation, Photographer informed me that he had a position within his group. Although, he did not give me any details about the position, experience etc, we ended on a note that required me to send my resume across, in order to provide him with a better context about my background.

I followed up after a few weeks, and Photographer wrote back,"It appears there is not a fit at this time".

I was disappointed. I re-read the email after 2 days, and thought to myself,"Appears, is a good word. He did not say 'NO', there is not a good fit". I sent another email inquiring whether he would be interested in my portfolio.
He welcomed that.

In June 2010, I volunteered at the DMI conference, and found out that Photographer was attending the conference as well. We exchanged emails, and agreed to meet at the conference.

We met, and had a pleasant conversation.

Last week, I made a day trip to San Diego. Most insightful discovery of that trip was my lunch meeting with Photographer. This is how he remembers me from our first phone conversation, and told his wife about the experience as well :-

"Shalu, when we first spoke, you jumped straight to the point. You did not thank me for my time, and directly said,"This is what I want to talk about". I had written you off there and then! Also, your voice on the phone is high pitched. Your phone persona is very different from your real persona. You are very charismatic and confident in real life. When I met you at the conference, I saw you in a different light, and thought to myself that I could work with her. She seems like a pleasant person."

I have to admit; I was quite shocked that THIS is what he remembers about me! It must be true, because he still remember it after 5 months. And, he had written me off! (Boy! and, I had no clue all this time). I actually pride myself on being able to engage people at every level, and be polite. I can not believe that I was horribly rude to Photographer in our first phone conversation.

This story summarizes the reason I never do well in any phone interview. Till date, I have been able to convert 1 out of 5 into an offer, which is extremely frustrating.

No one...and I mean NO ONE has ever given me the invaluable feedback that I received last week!

I always thought that the reason that I do not do well in phone interviews is, because I like to put faces behind people's names, and am not able to connect with people over the phone. I did not realize that my phone interviewing skills / phone pitch skills need a lot of work.

Thank you, Photographer; much appreciated.

Can you imagine working with Photographer, and getting your annual (or semi-annual) feedback? I am certain that his team members know so much more about themselves, and constantly innovate their personalities.

I wish more people were like Photographer i.e. not afraid of providing feedback in a constructive way.

The big question is: "What will I do different that will help me succeed in phone interviews, and convey my real persona across"?

The funny thing is that now that I try to talk softer, my husband can barely hear me! :)

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