I see it over and over again, a client goes on an interview, makes it past HR (in my book the highest hurdle), is sent up to meet the department head, onto the hiring manager with a stop by the top person, and then no offer. What happened?

Ruling out the circumstances beyond your control, such as they were going to hire from within from the get go, a hiring freeze was put in place, or they chose not to fill the position, what can you do to make sure you get the offer, promotion, or key project?

Here are a few things I see too many well-qualified people fail to do when it comes to getting the offer, promotion, or assignment.

  1. They fail to ask for the job. It's believed that 90% of all salespeople fail to ask for the order; asking for the position is no different. Maybe you aren't as direct as "can I wrap that up for you" or "click here now," but saying something like, "I think I could make a major contribution to this team, all I need is the opportunity," comes across as more motivated and desirable than the person who waits for the decision to be made by someone else.
  2. They fail to describe the advantages to the interviewer and the company if they hire them. The eager candidate can spend too much time laying out their needs and wants, and not enough on how they would bring fresh ideas, make or save the organization money and time, or bring them ease or prestige. People want to know -- what can you do for me -- now!
  3. They fail to use third party endorsements. Going on and on about how great you are (even if you are) has limited appeal and impact. A technique I took from marketing mavens is the third party endorsement. Here's how it works. You're asked the question, "What are you like as a manger?" You have a number of options but one of the most effective is quoting someone else. "If you were to ask the people who work for me, they would say I'm tough, but fair, knowledgeable, but willing to admit when I don't know something." The voice of another person gives greater credence to the points rather than you making the statement. It also allows you to say something that spoken in the first person might feel uncomfortable or seem like bragging.
  4. They fail to leave the "quotable quote." When a candidate is passed on to the next decision maker, you hope they will have communicated in some way. You want to control that message, (1) so it is accurate, (2) it emphasizes what you believe is essential and, finally (3) it's memorable. "I'm sending over the guy who changed an entire application with a single key stroke," or "This is the woman who found $10 million in a neglected space." Something that gets the next listener to say, "Tell me more."
  5. They fail to find common ground with the listener. You have heard me say it before, "It's harder to lay off a face." Well it's easier to pass on someone you know nothing about (personally). I'm not a big fan of listing hobbies on resumes, a bit high school for my taste. But, if you are on the Board of a swim club where Michael Phelps happened to learn to float, weave it into the conversation. Look around the person's work space for clues. If the person's kid is in a photo playing soccer, saying you loved the sport when you were that age makes you someone they just might want to have around.
  6. They fail to show enthusiasm. Too many candidates fall into what I call the "too cool for school" group. They never show how much they really want the next level or yearn to be selected for the special project. By doing so, they are passed over either because no one thought they wanted it or they lacked the energy the situation requires. Generally, it's just the opposite and it's difficult to dissuade people otherwise, once they've come to the conclusion. Sit forward in your chair when the topic comes up. Ask for more details and updates. Forward the decision maker links related to the topic. State you are really excited about the work. One of the best employees I ever hired did not come with a stellar resume but at the end of the interview she stood up, leaned towards me, looked me straight in the eye and said, "If you take a chance with me, I promise you, I will be the best manager you ever hired." I did and she was. She literally jumped up and down when I told her she had the position. I'll never forget her.

There is more to getting what you want than hoping, answering job postings, or telling your colleagues or friends. Showing enthusiasm, finding common ground with decision makers, leaving them with a quotable quote and a third party endorsement as you ask for what you want, and telling them how you will make things better and easier, will get you that much closer to your goal.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.