Wednesday 18 September 2019

What should I do after board advertised the role I thought it had offered to me?

Leadership advice

It’s important to leave any frustration and resentment behind and focus on the future
It’s important to leave any frustration and resentment behind and focus on the future

Caroline Ward

Query: Before I went on annual leave two weeks ago, I was invited to apply for a more senior management position at the publishing company where I work. I was told by the board of directors that the position wouldn't be advertised as they wanted me for the job. But a week into my holiday, they contacted me to tell me that it was being advertised after all and the closing date was the day after I came back. I got my application in, but I am frustrated by the way I've been treated. Can you advise on how I can address this with the board?

Answer: I understand that this is a difficult position to be in as you had presumed that you had the position and then the way you found out that you had to apply for the job, while on holidays, was not ideal. But, while this is a difficult and disappointing situation for you, you need to take stock of what happened and move on with your career without any negative impact. Here are some steps below that will help you understand what happened more fully and help you learn from it and then move on.

1 - Consider the details: Take some time initially to reflect upon the situation and any communication you had with the board regarding this matter.

Sometimes your recollection or understanding of an event might be different to the other party's view. Try to take an objective view, gathering facts only.

  • Did you make any assumptions with what was said to you?
  • Was the process of the application process fully outlined to you or was it just the potential outcome?
  • Were the key stakeholders present? Or was the person who said this to you not a decision-maker in the process?
  • Was anyone involved in the human resources function present?

You need to consider that it is possible that the established relationship you have with the board caused you to inflate the meaning of their statements.

2 - Remain professional throughout the process: It is important to avoid allowing what should be a positive situation impact upon your wider career in a negative way. You need to take stock of the situation and ensure that your further dealings within the process and professional. Although you may be upset, allowing your frustration to colour the conversation or to negatively impact your relationship with the board will likely be counterproductive in the medium or long-term. It could have a lasting impact on your career. Choose your language carefully, remain calm and do not say anything that you would not be willing to repeat at a later date.

3 - Prepare yourself for a practical response: I understand that you might believe that the situation you find yourself in is personal, but that might not be the case at all. While the handling of the situation has been less than ideal, it is possible that a combination of unfortunate timing and poor communication is at fault.

It is likely that there is a legal requirement on the board to open the competition to the public and perhaps this was not previously understood by your initial contacts. This does not undermine your suitability or merit for the role. If there has simply been a miscommunication on their part or a misunderstanding on yours, you must be prepared to move forward and leave frustration or resentment behind. This is the only way to move forward without impacting on your future career.

4 - Focus on the future: Move on and try and forget about what happened. Be sure not to allow this aspect of the process to prevent you from putting your best foot forward in application to the role itself.

Prepare diligently for any interviews or assessments required. It is important that you treat this process with professionalism. Whether or not there are other applicants in the process, you should be preparing for the interview to the best of your abilities. Focus on preparing competency-based interview question responses, consider your key strengths in relation to the role and the underlying reasons for your interest.

  • Caroline Ward is HR Services Manager at Collins McNicholas Recruitment and HR Services Group, which has six offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Athlone and Limerick.

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