When A Company Is Just Not That Into You...

There is a good reason why He's Just Not That Into You grew from a Sex and the City episode to a book to a movie. Rather than waiting and wondering by the phone for an interminable amount of time, women were encouraged to take back the power. They could free themselves from the nagging, "why hasn't he called" question with a simple refrain: "If he likes you, he'll call you." (Subtext: If not, move on).

It was revolutionary.

And while it sounds harsh, as you may remember, Miranda found it liberating. Why worry? If he likes her, he'll call her; if not, it's not meant to be. The book and movie reassure us: men know how to use a phone, men know if they like someone, men know how to hold onto a number, men will find a way to track someone down if it's important to them (Serendipity, anyone).

What interests me about this principle is that "he's just not that into you" can be applied beyond dating, really to anything involving chemistry, and particularly to job-hunting. I've held two super-impressive, competitive jobs, and with each one, I was called and offered the position within twenty-four hours of my interview (one on the morning after the interview, and the other just a few hours later as I was sitting down to write my thank-you note).

So if I don't hear within 48 hours, I'm nervous. My husband thinks it's ridiculous- superstition at best. Don't we all know that companies have policies and timetables and the interview process can stretch out over weeks upon weeks. Sure, but here's what I know: If they want me, they'll call me. (And why not apply this dating lesson to job-hunting: the sinking feeling when it's been days since your interview and the employer hasn't called feels similar enough).
But what about a company that really can't tell you for x number of weeks because of their hiring policies? (A note: these companies should assess why it takes them so long). Or what if it's a relatively speedy process - decision less than one week after the final interview- but there is no wiggle room to discuss the offer before a given date in the future?

If they like you, they'll call you.

Why? Because companies don't want to risk losing their top candidate. Why else? Because they want to show through their actions that they value the candidate's time and talent.

How? Even if they can't formally offer you, they'll provide some kind of indication that you stand out from the pack. Maybe a response to your thank you email, that it was great meeting you as well and your ideas were innovative and well-received (positive reinforcement) or an inquiry as to when you might be able to start or a request for references (hint, hint). Even a "bear with us" email (aka you're still top of mind). 

I'm not encouraging impatience nor am I suggesting if you don't hear immediately you should feel downhearted. And many a hiring manager may think 48 hours is ridiculous (to clarify, I'm saying 48 hours after the final, finalist interview). But seriously, if one candidate is clearly better than the rest it shouldn't take any longer than that. 

So when it does, it might be the kindest, most empowering thing to let the jobseeker begin emotionally preparing. I, for one, would rather be happily surprised than miserably blindsided.

The company I interviewed with is still one I hold in the highest regard. And their process was fair - they even sent me a thoughtful 'it's a no' email, which (take note hiring managers) matters! But while everyone around me was saying "It was Thanksgiving"; "It's only been a week"; I was hearing, "He'll call, really he will," and I knew better. 

I really wanted this job. I'll admit it -I cried when I didn't get it (no matter how much of a longshot I knew it may have been). But when I grab a latte later today, and am thinking all of this over, it will be comforting to remember that this doesn't mean no company will ever want me: it means it wasn't the right time, the right position, the right fit- they just weren't that into me this time, but that's okay.