If you’ve been following my journey you’ll know that I have spent the good part of the last year formulating an exit strategy from my current 9-5. I even managed to manifest an unsolicited opportunity that resulted in three promising rounds of interviews with a top boutique investment banking firm.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
In theory, my plan was formed:
- Spend a year researching investment strategies that would generate me passive income.
- Develop several streams of passive income (eg real estate buy and hold, affiliate marketing, develop a consulting business)I
- Hand in my resignation by March 16, 2020
Little did I know that as I was planning to resign, I would be pursued by a recruiting firm for a lucrative job opportunity with a great company. Also, unless you had a sure-fire way to predict the future, no one ever could have predicted that a worldwide pandemic would happen and disrupt normal life as we know it.
The interview timeline.
About a month before I was due to hand in my resignation, I was actually contacted by an executive recruiter via Linkedin. Out of the blue and completely unsolicited, she asked if we could chat.
It was like my thoughts and intentions over the years were being heard and somehow I manifested this! As a firm believer in exploring opportunities before turning them down, I accepted the recruiter’s invite to have a call.
I discovered that their client, the Co-President of a boutique investment banking firm was in the market looking for a candidate that had a very specific skill set and had actually asked for me by name. As far as I was aware I never dealt with this company directly before. I was flattered and assumed my Linkedin profile had garnered their attention.
The process accelerated. Within days of our initial call, I had interviewed with the recruiting firm’s president. Then over the next 2 weeks interviewed with the COO and Co-President of the hiring firm.
I thought this was an ideal situation and was anticipating getting an offer since all the feedback after interviewing was extremely positive.
Sure, this was not in my plan and I was so focused on exiting the 9-5 world altogether but I figured if the more options I have, the better. It’s a win-win situation.
The turning point.
Then the coronavirus happened. The day that my current job implemented mandatory work from home arrangements, was the day I was supposed to resign.
It was a week since the last interview I had with the hiring company and had not heard back. If it was any normal day I don’t think I would have hesitated with sending a quick email to follow up asking for an update. But now……?I was asking myself all sorts of questions.
Should I follow up? How? What is the “interview follow up” protocol during a pandemic outbreak quarantine the world has never seen??? Are they doing ok?
“Follow up” protocol redefined.
According to the general rule of thumb for interviewing (via career-focused websites like ineeded.com, balancecareers.com, monster.com), you should wait around 5-7 business days before following up with a recruiter post-interview.
Since I was the one being pursued, the whole interview process already seemed a little unconventional to me (especially since I hadn’t had to interview for a job since 6 years ago – that and well you know, THE CORONAVIRUS!)I
For the 2 interviews I had in this instance, the recruiter had made contact with me almost immediately after each one. I guess it was because the feedback was so positive on all sides and that the company was keen to hire.
But when something like this happens, what is the protocol? General rules of thumb during this situation pretty much goes out the window. All I knew was that:
- I wasn’t actively seeking another 9-5 job but was interested in this opportunity because it sounded very different from what I had been doing all my career
- I had established a good relationship with both recruiter and hiring company and didn’t want to reverse that
- Regardless of what my intentions were or what was happening around me, courtesy and compassion come first – especially because of what was happening.
Initially, I decided to send a follow-up email to the recruiter after the 7 business day rule of thumb. However, 7 days into waiting the whole world turned upside down.
I ended up waiting 7 more business days (mostly because I had other priorities to worry about)I The key would be to strike the right balance by being professional without being insensitive.
Example of email follow-up.
After spending some time thinking about how to craft such an email I came up with something like this:
First and foremost I hope that you and the team are doing well, staying healthy and sane during these crazy times!
I realize that this situation is unprecedented and I appreciate it might take some time before we can pick up where we left off with this opportunity. I wanted to reach out and check-in but can only imagine that (hiring company interviewers) have more pressing priorities to deal with at this time!
Fortunately, I have the capability to be working from home currently – which seems to be the norm now and available to discuss should there be any updates. If you need anything else from me please let me know. In the meantime, stay safe and take care.”
I re-read this several times before sending and even shared with my sister, K.D Brighton, to get an outsider’s thoughts. Eventually, after no further objections, I hit send and waited with anticipation.
It was no more than 15 minutes that I had received a reply! I was relieved to hear that they were doing well despite all the madness but more so because I had received a response.
In return, the recruiter was also courteous, sensitive and professional saying that she had been in close contact with the hiring firm but given the recent events, everything was in a holding pattern and speculated that it might be a while before she could give me an update.
The response was as I had expected but at least some degree of uncertainty was eliminated. That gave me some relief.
I found it bizarre how a response like that gave me some assurance despite not getting an update.
Did I get to execute my exit strategy? Not yet.
Was it inappropriate for me to follow up in the first place? Some may think so. But I am not one to leave things “hanging”.
There is always a choice and a reasonable way to approach things. Some good lessons that I learned during this scenario:
- Life throws you curve balls but it’s how you react that matters
- If a door closes another one always opens – YOU just have to be open to it
- Stick to the facts
- You can be sensitive without being emotional
- You can be rationale without being insensitive
- Find a balance between professionalism and compassion
- Everyone is human and I am not the only one
- It is always good to have an independent, third party’s opinion
- The world is not ending so don’t think like it (or preferably – don’t use that tone in an email!
Especially now, when no one, not even our government or other leaders we may look to in times like this, can give any definitive answers so sometimes it helps to go back to basics; stick to the facts, rely strongly on our morals, remember our duties as fellow human beings, and continue to have faith.
As the old saying “the only thing we can be certain about is uncertainty”. Strangely enough, this gives me comfort during times like this.
Thank you for reading. I hope that this provided some guidance. Remember folks – stay home, stay healthy and safe and try to stay sane!
How do you react when thrown a “curveball’ in life? Were you in the midst of carrying out a plan or about to make a life-changing decision during the coronavirus outbreak? Comment below!
www.thenaughtyforties.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.