Thursday, July 18, 2013

Answering Reader Mail: I Know Who I am and I Know the Difference

I got an email from “CT.”  Their question is below.  


“Hello there - I don't know how soon you will see this, but I'm hoping today.  :-)  I need your advice.


I am trying to get hired by a company and have been on two separate interviews with different departments and I have finally decided that I am needing to tailor my interview to the position these executives hold.  My first interview was for the CFO and CEO of the company and I truly wanted that position.  The CFO liked me...I missed the mark on the CEO.  He asked me the question "what is the difference between an Executive Assistant and an Assistant".  Now I know the answer to that...and there could be many variations.  What I was wanting to know though, does the person he interviews and would potentially hire, have "leadership qualities".


I was told that out of all the candidates, I was the only one he spent any amount of time with.  Because this interview has stayed on my mind from the moment I left, I want to email that CEO and although I don't have it all written out.,..it starts out like this:


Good morning ____.   I wanted to thank you again for the opportunity to interview with you.  The short amount of time spent with you has had the greatest impact on me and I keep replaying it in my mind.  For the first time since I have been separated from my position at ____, you challenged me to express who I was and I couldn't find the words.  
I know you have moved on and are searching for your match with other candidates, so I want to assure you that this is not an attempt for a reprieve but more of a confirmation to you, of my knowing the difference between an "Executive Assistant" and an "Assistant.”  The million dollar question in my opinion.


Again, I have already been passed on...but I feel an urgency in letting him know, I truly do know who I am and I know the difference.


What is your opinion with this?


Regards,
CT




Deart CT,


I’m sorry to hear you were passed on, but I’m so happy you are truly thinking about how to change yourself to put your best foot forward.  Self reflection is a very important tool and I’m glad to hear you are passionate about being the best person you can be, and the best professional you can be.  


You asked two questions, so I will answer them in order.


1) Does the person he interviews and would potentially hire, have "leadership qualities?"


That answer is yes.  An executive most typically wants someone similar to him, someone that can represent him, be his mini me, the face of his office and company.  And how to answer, “Do you think an executive assistant should have leadership qualities?” can be answered in various ways.  Leadership can mean everything from leading a team and being the one in charge, to being amazing at soft skills and listening and responding to those you work with, or being proactive, forward thinking, and making the situation better.  A great way to answer the question about leadership, if it’s true and in your own words, is to say if you need to be called upon to be the point person, shepard everyone  toward a goal, and lead - you can.  However, you also realize you are a lifelonge learner, each company is different; you are green enough and hungry enough to do the minor tasks, because it needs to get done.  You believe customer service means doing anything that is required of you.  You are flexible and will do anything as long as it is not illegal or immoral.  You will be what they need you to be.  If you spout these answers but don’t truly live or believe it, that will become evident somewhere down the line.  


2) Again, I have already been passed on...but I feel an urgency in letting him know, I truly do know who I am and I know the difference. What is your opinion with this?


I agree it’s really frustrating to to be passed on an opportunity you were really really excited about.  It sux to feel as though you shortchanged yourself in a moment.  It’s nerve-wracking to believe you had an “off” answer and were thisclose to getting what you wanted.  It’s hard to stop thinking about the if only, I wish, but, and...  


My advice to you is to be really professional and the best professional you can be, which means as an employee or future/possible employee, your only job is to serve THEM.  You are there to help THEM do business faster, more efficiently, and fit into their team.  


This is what he’s thinking and working on right now: hiring a new assistant, his next project or deadline, the bottom line, next year’s budget, how his team is faring, employee morale, what his CFO thinks, problem areas of the company, what he’s doing this weekend, his summer plans, his loved ones, his pets, how he will get more sleep/rest/vacation time, where he needs to be in 3 or 5 years with his career, how he will catch up, and the list goes on.  


So in the midst of all this, if you do write him, it will be the most jarring thing for him because he mentally moved on to other business the moment you answered “wrong” or left his office.  


The crux of you answer on why you want to email him is: I feel an urgency in letting him know, I truly do know who I am and I know the difference.


Which by default means, it’s about you.  He didn’t ask you to reach out to him once you figured it out.  He didn’t ask you to keep him posted.  And he didn’t ask you about what you thought once you left his office.  If you do write him, it will do more damage than good IMHO.  Your email isn’t to say thank you for meeting with you and leaving it at that, but rather can or will be perceived as trying to “fix” a portrayal of yourself you didn’t like and to “defend” yourself.  This could come across, rightly or wrongly, as you feeling/being/the perception of insecure, living in the past, and unprofessional.


The more you reach out to HR or hiring managers when they didn’t ask you the more their perception of you changes for the worse.  When they need something from you, they will find you.  Otherwise, it’s just you inserting yourself into their lives and having them read one more email, check one more voicemail, etc.  


Think about yourself for a moment...  Whenever you get an email or phone call from someone you are not super duper excited to hear from, just think of your reaction - you roll your eyes, ask yourself what they want, begrudge them for making you have to decide to answer or ignore, and you tell your friends, “You’ll never guess who contacted me!”


I agree it speaks volumes that he spent the most time with you and opened your eyes during the interview process.  However, your goal is to get a job offer and to accept it.  Without a job offer, all your time and energy should be spent getting interviews or bettering yourself in the interview process.  He’s living in today and the far future.  So “honor” him by doing just that, for yourself...  He would have wanted  and expected that.  

Other Executive Assistants, please weigh in on your thoughts too! 


***New “rule” - when you ask me a question for anonymous advice and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you read the post?  You can just write “Thx!” or something!  :) 

As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address. It usually takes me 5-6 days to answer.

I also write over at Jobstr.com under Hollywood Executive Assistant.

http://jobstr.com/threads/show/4303-hollywood-executive-assistant











11 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Executive AssistantJuly 22, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      Dearn Anonymous,

      I hope/assume you are the one who submitted the question? Regardless, glad you liked the answer...

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Executive AssistantAugust 12, 2013 at 12:02 AM

      Dear SP, So glad you agreed with my advice and are enjoying my blog! Sorry it took so long to respond. I was on vacation!

      Delete
  3. Hi again,
    I love your musings. Do you have a book published yet? You should, IMHO (which I learned from you, I'm "old school"). I landed an Executive Assistant job since following you and I'm so proud and grateful because it is with an organization that is simply amazing! Now, this was not the position I studied or trained for and I have been working for 30+ years doing various jobs (some high leadership type things, others not so much). Yet this situation feels like I was made for it...I'm rambling and giddy but just wanted to say thanks! Kim R

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Executive AssistantAugust 20, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      Dear Kim, I realized when I answered this comment a week ago in ran in the wrong "area" as regular comment instead of a response to yours. So I am repasting it here in case you didn't see it...

      Congrats on being an EA and with an awesome company to boot! I love being an EA. I am so very flattered you are giddy about writing to me! So happy you love my musings and my blog! I feel so bad I have not been writing weekly, I have been on vacation! I do not have a book published yet, but maybe some day. I have always wanted to write a book! Should I ever write a book, I am sure it will be mentioned here - perhaps a compilation of all my blog posts... Hope you have a great week!

      Delete
  4. I love your blog! You have such a great writing style. I am 27 & work in a fortune 500 co as EA to president. I love the advice and articles you write as I am still in the early stages of my career and it's great to read the thoughts of someone who is so experienced. Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Executive AssistantAugust 12, 2013 at 12:08 AM

      Dear Anonymous - I am so happy to hear you enjoy my writing style and reading my blog! It is always nice to hear from other EAs. I do need to step up writing more blog posts. It has been awhile; I have been on vacay! Hope you have a great Monday!

      Delete
  5. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Executive AssistantAugust 12, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    Dear Kim, Congrats on being an EA and with an awesome company to boot! I love being an EA. I am so very flattered you are giddy about writing to me! So happy you love my musings and my blog! I feel so bad I have not been writing weekly, I have been on vacation! I do not have a book published yet, but maybe some day. I have always wanted to write a book! Should I ever write a book, I am sure it will be mentioned here - perhaps a compilation of all my blog posts... Hope you have a great week!

    ReplyDelete
  6. <>>

    Wow! My mind just blew up. Thank you for responding in the way you did. I enjoyed reading your response. It was the right tact and this reader needed to know that she was making this about her.

    Also you put into words the exact way I feel ("ugly") when candidates for positions that my VPs are interviewing continually keep in touch. It's awkward. I do not want to respond and we are not friends. Don't 'use my contact information against me by using it' to communicate with me! Ick. My boss passed you over, end of story. Move on.

    Thanks for this great blog and for sharing so much. It is a great resource.
    NYC EA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Exec AsstJanuary 15, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      Dear NYC EA - I am so happy to hear my response and advice really resonated with you. Readers like to hear other views for a more well rounded one. I would like to think my answers are what most EAs would believe too, so when I get feedback that other's do feel the same, especially when they are on the OTHER side, it is more powerful! Thank you for the comment and happy new year! Thank you for being a reader!

      Delete