EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

If you went to an interview with a broken arm, I’m pretty sure you would feel the need to explain.

Honestly, sitting there with your arm in a cast, it is hard to imagine a productive discussion taking place until you tell your interviewer how it happened. Was it a skiing accident? Did you trip and fall? Inquiring minds want to know.

On a smaller scale, all of us from time to time don’t seem to see that elephant sitting in the room. The truth is that even if you are only engaging in an email exchange, there can still be that huge creature waiting for some remark by you to explain its existence and reason for being there.

For example, if you live in New York City and apply for a job in California with no relocation, the elephant is why you would consider such an opportunity. Without some simple explanation, your candidacy begs the question as to why you should be considered.

Another situation with a slippery slope is when we apply for jobs for which we are “well qualified.” (Notice, I didn’t say overqualified.) There is obviously an elephant sitting in the room, but an answer to this question is one you must answer with great care. Things like: “I don’t want to work as hard.” probably won’t enhance your candidacy. An explanation is needed, but you want to take the time to come up with something that rings true and also makes you a viable candidate.

The most important part of the “elephant sitting in the room” syndrome is that YOU need to be sensitive and be thinking in advance as to what those issues might be in a given situation.

People tend to be polite. (Okay, not all of them.) They will often times sit there appearing to listen attentively when they are actually looking for an opening to ask their difficult question and not hearing anything you say.

Another very obvious question is why you left your last job. Here the advantage goes to the side which brings it up first. Let’s hope that is you and that you have a 30 second explanation that is true and which solves their problem. The lawyers rule is “question asked, question answered.” Once you have provided a reasonable explanation, they are going to be hard pressed to bring it up again.

Another area for which you should be prepared is if you have been “between jobs” for a significant length of time. Those who have not been unemployed in middle age or later have almost no understanding of how hard it is to find a senior level job and how hard you have to work at it. They don’t seem to have any comprehension and you need to know and understand that, because if you don’t there is the very real possibility they will in some way offend you.

Elephants take up a lot of space and eat a lot of food. Getting them out of the room and out of the way is the only way to prevent them from sitting on YOU.

Regards, Matt

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