People wait in lines. We get upset when someone cuts in front. So we wait back until it is our turn. We don’t want to be greedy.
Tim was competing with three others for a promotion at EDS. He was prepared. He was a good choice. He told his boss, “I do want this promotion. It is the next step I need to take in my career. But I don’t want you to choose me for the job if the other guys should have it. I know it is important to them too. I don’t want you to feel any pressure to give it to me even though I want it.”
Tim did NOT get the promotion.
Tim also waited a full year to get half of the bonus he was promised for putting in a lot of overtime on a project. During that year he reminded his boss twice of the bonus. Then Tim waited patiently with a smile. Tim was a nice guy. He was getting beaten up because he was afraid that being insistent that he was the correct choice was uncouth. Tim was politely waiting in line.
Let’s compare that to me. Same area at EDS, different job. I wanted to move to a special technical team. There were 4 openings. I asked my team leader and manager to help me get in. I reminded them every few days. I visited the manager who was leading the new group every other day. I brought a word of cheer or another accomplishment. He had no doubt how much I wanted the job. He got an email after every contact. I got the job with 3 years of experience. The other technicians were 5 to 20 years my senior. They were well known and earned twice what I did. I was nobody in comparison. And I know I beat out a whole bunch of other folks who had way better credentials than me.
I waited, but I was persistent while I waited. I made sure my references were checked. I offered more proof of my accomplishments. I never let the manager forget I wanted that job. Towards the end he would see me in his doorway and grin, “Bryan, I haven’t made that decision yet, but I’m going to. Don’t worry. I know you want the job.” But I kept coming for 3 weeks anyway. I wanted the job more than I wanted to be polite. I was willing to out work any of the more senior guys he could hire. This was my only way to prove it.
There were a lot of very surprised people when I got the job. They were obviously better than me. But I was persistent. I made it a big deal. I got the job. Unfortunately there was nothing left for the others waiting in line.
Something to do today
If you are job hunting or looking for a promotion, be persistent. The job seeker who offers contagious enthusiasm often gets hired over the guy with experience. For the job that is a quantum leap forward in your career, refuse to wait in line.