“Little Things” Are Not Always So Little

My first career after university was sales and marketing—and I was quite successful in both the telecommunications and healthcare arenas. After a few years in healthcare, I was informed that my boss was leaving for another opportunity and that I was being considered for a promotion to his position (along with the local CEO’s personal friend). I really wanted that job, and I thought that I had earned it through my sales performance. At the same time, I knew how much the local CEO wanted his personal friend to have the position.

Both of us were flown to Nashville to interview for the job. I didn’t even come across the other candidate—they put him on a different flight and he was interviewed early in the day. My interview was in the afternoon and lasted several hours. They put me through role-playing scenarios to determine whether I would lose my cool under pressure. They also spent time questioning me about how I would increase the success of our sales and promotional efforts if given the chance.

My interview concluded at 6 p.m.—it was a Friday evening. The person who would be my boss, if I got the job, walked me to my rental car. When I got in the car, I immediately took out one of my note cards and wrote the following:

Cheryl, I wanted to thank you, once again, for taking time from your busy schedule to talk with me about the Director of Sales and Marketing position. I really enjoyed our discussion—especially the ideas we shared on how to increase our organization’s visibility in the marketplace. It will be exciting (if I am chosen) to implement the many changes we discussed. Whatever your ultimate decision, I wish you continued success! -Mark Swain

It was a beautiful evening in Nashville, so I rolled down the window and enjoyed my drive to the airport. On the way I spotted a mail box, so I stopped and mailed the thank you note I had written.

After I got the job, my new boss and I were promoting our company’s services in a large city. While driving to an appointment, I turned to her and said, “Cheryl, I never asked you why you chose me for this position.” She responded, “That’s quite a funny story,” and proceeded. She told me that after she walked me to my car, the interviewing team met to make a decision. Cheryl said, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you two were so close that we couldn’t make a decision. We decided to think about it over the weekend and make our decision by Tuesday.” She continued, “When I arrived at work on Tuesday, there was a small envelope in the middle of my desk. I’ll bet you know what it was.” I figured it was the thank you note I had written and mailed. Then she said, “There was only one envelope on my desk.”  As I continued to drive, my new boss added, “True story.”

Over the past 20 years, I have taught thousands of job seekers the importance of expressing thanks for the privilege of being considered for a job and expressing their desires to be selected!